Mega City One is on the brink of disaster. With the Chaos virus released, Judge Dredd and a weakened justice department struggle to maintain order. Just when things couldn't get any worse, a rogue Judge releases the Dark Judges back into the world. Will Mega City One survive?
There was understandably a considerable amount of buzz around last year's Judge Dredd epic, Day of Chaos. Clocking in at 48 episodes, making it the longest ever Dredd story ever and with Dredd creator John Wagner in the writers chair, this sprawling epic reaches its conclusion in this second volume.
You've got admire the ambition, perhaps even arrogance, evident in Day of Chaos. It completes a story arc begun 30 years previously in 'The Apocalypse War', a story that also saw massive changes for Mega City One - making Endgame certainly not a volume picked up or understood in isolation.
But what of the story? It's a cliche sometimes over used, but genuinely by the end of this story, nothing will ever be the same again. The level of devastation and game-changing plot are not something that you could see happening over in Gotham City or Smallville.
Wagner's pacing is a masterclass as the pages ooze tension ticking down to the inevitable destruction. However, my eagerness to get to the next instalment was at the cost of actually absorbing the narrative. Day of Chaos's weekly publication in 2000 AD was designed, rightly so, to make you wait for the next instalment. Collecting it in a trade removes this, and waters down the impact of the story for those not exercising restraint.
Endgame is not the most original of stories, in fact, it could be argued that the actual story itself sometimes disappoints due to throwing everything at the wall. But the beauty lies in the almost flawless execution. You can forgive the lack of innovation in the story thanks to the sheer roller coaster Day of Chaos takes you on.
The first act, "The Assassination List" sees the premonition that a contract has been taken out on a number of Judges. An engaging start to the book, it also sees the Judges doing something quite rare for Dredd - investigating. From there its onto the relentless "Eve of Destruction" where events threaten to break Dredd for good. One heart-stopping moment comes when the anti-Judge media is stirred up with falsified evidence of how the Judges 'intend' to stop the Chaos bug sending the city into riots. From here the artwork (from Henry Flint, Ben Wilsher and Colin MacNeil) literally explodes with sequences laced with detail and destruction.
There's a grim fascination to be had with Day of Chaos. You know everything's going wrong and that it can't be fixed. And I think it's this perverse nature of wanting to see exactly how bad the devastation can be wrought that makes Endgame such a pageturner. You know Dredd’s survival is, and will always be, a matter of fact, but what of Logan, Beeny, the Chief Judge? No-one is truly safe in some shockingly blunt storytelling.
The mis-step, for me anyway, comes with the arrival of the Dark Judges. Their inclusion is just one step too far, especially given their relatively quick exit from the story. I understand this another part of the long game employed by Wagner (they will return in a later storyline), but it's a jarring segment in an otherwise heart-stopping story.
Endgame is essential reading for understanding what the current of state of play in Mega City One is. It is also the conclusion one of the most dynamic Dredd epics of recent years. For these reasons, it's worth strapping yourself in for the roller coaster ride. Try not to get swept away though, and you will have a rewarding experience that changes the status quo - and continues to prove why 2000 AD is the galaxy's greatest comic.
Last updated: 26/02/2018 12:39:39