(2005 ed (1999)) Garth Ennis, Carlos Ezquerra, Dean Ormston, Peter Doherty & Chris Halls,
Rebellion, £11.99, trd pbk, 96 pp, ISBN 1-904-26519-7
This is a welcome 2005 reprint of the 1999 collection of the Dredd and Johnny Alpha story that first ran in tandem in 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine (alternating publications) way back in 1992. (Actually there was a bit of an outcry at the time as some of the readers only subscribed to one and not both publications and so only got half the tale. However the 1999 graphic novel release by Hamlyn changed that.) This 2005 edition comes from Rebellion who (owning 2000AD) in 2004 ended their graphic novel publishing arrangement with Titan.
This is a cross-over story with Judge Dredd and another 2000AD character, Johnny Alpha. Dredd being a 22nd century Judge (a policeman cum judge and jury dispensing justice on the spot) in the overcrowded Mega City One. (The Sylvester Stalone film was a soft version of the 2000AD character that also lacked the depth or detail that 2000AD provides.) Johnny Alpha is a mutant also from the future and in this story from Dredd's future (the 2000AD timelines are a bit tangled as the characters were originally conceived and developed separately). Being a mutant, one of the few jobs Johnny Alpha is allowed to do that pays well, is to be a bounty hunter. His mutation is that he can see through clothing and walls, otherwise he looks human. He also has some futuristic weapons.
In Judgement Day a super criminal with supernatural powers capable of raising the dead en masse escapes from Johnny Alpha's space-time continuum and ends up on Dredd's Earth. Soon the dead are stalking the Earth and laying siege to the Megacities. Fortunately for the beleaguered Judges that rule the Megacities, Johnny Alpha is sent back in time to re-capture the evil-doer. However the Judges at first do not realise who Alpha is. But when they do, it is time for two of 2000AD's favourite characters to team up and save the World.
Dredd's normally hard-SF noireish future is occasionally contrasted with science-fantasy adventures such as this one, and these do tend to stand out from most of the other stories. Judgement Day is no exception and is a cracking tale. Because the story originally was conceived in two parallel streams there are four artists involved which does mean that the art style changes. This is not too disruptive as it divides the story up in an almost chapter-like way. It also gives new-comers to the 2000AD universe a chance to see Dredd in a number of styles. Unfortunately, and uncharacteristically for 2000AD, the art by-lines at the beginning of each segment have been removed and this will not help those unfamiliar with the artists seek out more of their work. Nonetheless do not let this put you off. Newcomers to 2000AD since 1999, and indeed those unfamiliar with the 2000AD, universe will find this a worthy introduction to the principal character and the artistic range in the publication that has arguably been the leader of SF in British comics for much of the time since 1978.
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