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Judge Dredd Judgement Day Main

"Essential Judge Dredd: Judgement Day" Trade Paperback Review

Written by Joel Harley

Published by Rebellion


Originally published in 2000AD progs #786 - #799, #816 and Judge Dredd Megazine progs #2.04 - #209 

Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated and coloured by Carlos Ezquerra, Peter Doherty, Dean Ormston, Chris Halls, Anthony Williams
Lettered by Tom Frame
1992, 160 pages
Trade Paperback released on 11th April 2023


After introducing readers to the world of Judge Dredd with such indisputable classics as America, The Apocalypse War and Origins, the Essential Judge Dredd collection gets into muddier waters with this - the complete Judgement Day. In a nutshell: Judge Dredd versus zombies.

This ambitious crossover not only spanned two books upon its release in 1992 (2000AD, Dredd's regular home, and its spin-off title, Judge Dredd Megazine)but also brought in creator John Wagner's other signature character - bounty hunter Johnny Alpha, from the Strontium Dog series. With the Earth under attack from a multidimensional necromancer named Sabbat, Dredd and Alpha are forced to put aside their differences in order to save the world. Once again, it's Judge Dredd versus zombies, and the action more than lives up to that promise.

Click images to enlarge.

As an introduction to Dredd, it's a perfectly servicable one, if somewhat light on the strip's usual satirical bite. Having taken over the reins from series creator John Wagner, this is Garth Ennis's attempt at a mega-epic with the scale and stakes of, say, The Apocalypse War. Chock full of nineties excess, Ennis is a little too in love with the idea of Dredd The Badass, resulting in one of the more one-note Dredd stories out there. Ennis himself admitted, later on, that he cribbed a bit too much from other stories when writing this one (particularly the aforementioned Apocalypse War), and this generally holds true throughout.

Regardless, it's still Judge Dredd and Johnny Alpha versus zombies, and a lot of fun when taken on its own terms. Sabbat is a deliciously sadistic villain, and the portions of the story illustrated by the mighty Carlos Ezquerra and Peter Doherty are some of the best-looking Dredd visuals out there (even if I still hate Sabbat's cape). Doherty's prologue is particularly atmospheric, featuring Dredd and a handful of Cadets running into Sabbat's zombies out in the Cursed Earth. The action continues with a suitably apocalyptic battle against the zombie hordes, and then a fun dust-up between Dredd and Alpha. Artist Chris Halls lets the side down a bit, but has had enough of a kicking for it in the thirty-odd years since the story was first published, so we won't focus on that here.

Click images to enlarge.

While not held in the same esteem as other Dredd stories, Judgement Day is a solid work of blockbuster sci-fi action, featuring amusingly macabre humour (I still quote the line "our doom is nigh - I quite fancy being the nighest!" today), memorable gore (Sabbat pulling a bullet out of his own head) and one of the most iconic closing lines/pages 2000AD ever produced. First time readers may not come away with the best first impression of the strip's true range, but it's a good sampler of the comic at its most action-packed. Even the least essential of the Essential Dredd is still... fairly essential. 

Having first read it at thirteen years old, Judge Dredd: Judgement Day was, at the time, the greatest comic book story I had ever read. It's Judge Dredd versus zombies, after all.


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Overall: 4.5 Star Rating

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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer - UK
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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