Advance Review: ‘Judge Dredd: End Of Days’ – What A Difference A Collection Makes
by Richard Bruton
Judge Dredd End Of Days is an unapologetic bit of old school Dredd, the give him a challenge, a quest, and then let him at it. And it’s got all those great elements of those great Dredds in here, assembling the team, threats galore, Dredd in peril, Dredd being the mean and moody old git that he is. Yep, End Of Days is epic Dredd.
Now, I remember being very excited to read this when it was in 2000 AD, the next big Dredd epic and with a particularly talented team. And yet, reading it week by week, it just didn’t really work the way I wanted it to. Yes, I enjoyed it but it didn’t completely connect with me, I described it then as fizzling where it promised to wow. And that’s why it’s great to get the chance to give these storylines a second chance, because reading in one go here has let me thoroughly enjoy the series as a whole. It hangs together so well, it’s tight, it’s pacey, it’s full of great artwork and yes, it sits up there with those other epic Dredd tales.
There’s also plenty of that thing I do love in Rob William’s writing on Dredd, that certain tone he uses, the internal monologue, the thoughts of Dredd, and it always adds a sense of dark foreboding to the storylines.
And just like those Dredd epics of old, this one’s got artistic talent in spades, with Colin MacNeil taking the first six parts and Flint taking parts seven to fifteen.
Two of the best Dredd artists around right now giving us fifteen episodes of fabulous looking stuff.
So, what we have here is Dredd and the gang going up against the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. Yep, it’s the Judges versus Famine, Pestilence, War, and Death (nope, not that Death, this one’s not Justice Department affiliated… well, not yet anyhow.)
And it all kicks off with the unexpected appearance of the dead cowboy Ichabod Azrael, as last seen in The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the dead left in his wake). He’s also got an Angel with him, not to mention his talking horse.
Yep, loving the talking horse.
So while Mega-City One burns as the apocalypse begins, Dredd and his gang heads out to track down the first Horseman, Famine. And then Pestilence, then War, then Death, one after the next, the whole storyline absolutely done at speed, a great rush of thrills.
Yes, it’s pretty predictable how it’s all going to go, but this is one of those where the fun is in the journey, not the surprises. So it doesn’t matter that seeing Dredd versus Death goes just the way we thought it would with all the build-up, what really matters is how it all flows together. And this one is meant to flow together at speed, which is why it reads so much better in this collection than it did in episodes.
There’s a great line that summarises everything that really does make this one work, especially here in the collection, from Rob Williams’ original pitch document – ‘The ultimate cosmic, old west-style gunfight in the shadow of the planet Earth, on the main street of Luna-1’. And yes, that’s all here.
It might have taken me a while, but yes, I really, really enjoyed this one.
You also get two epilogue tales of sorts, Carry The Nine and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?.
They Shoot Horses is a slight thing, more coda than anything important, Dredd, Anderson and the horse getting some closure on it all. Looks fabulous though – Cornwell’s turning into a great Dredd artist.
But the first epilogue, Carry The Nine, co-written by Williams and Arthur Wyatt, with some beautiful Boo Cook art, that’s definitely one you want to read. It’s the classic thing of a Dredd tale taking an unexpected turn, with Accounts Judge Maitland managing to figure out a way to solve all crime in Mega-City One, just by thinking about it and running some models. Honestly, it might be my favourite bit of Dredd all year and proof, if proof were ever needed, that there are so many different kind of tales in Mega-City One.
Judge Dredd: End of Days – written by Rob Williams, art by Colin MacNeil and Henry Flint, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Simon Bowland & Annie Parkhouse.
Also contains the epilogue tales – CARRY THE NINE written by Rob Williams & Arthur Wyatt, art by Boo Cook, letters by Annie Parkhouse and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? written by Rob Williams, art by Dan Cornwell, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Annie Parkhouse.
Out March 13th from 20000AD/Rebellion.