Review: Judge Dredd: Necropolis by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra
Today I am looking at some classic Judge Dredd with one of the biggest storylines at the time. I would like to thank Rebellion Publishing and Netgalley for the Advanced Reading Copy of this book.
Now let's get this out in the open, this was always one of my favourite storylines (and I thik I still have it in its original format), and it was a delight to see this story collected in one place.
The essential Judge Dredd graphic novel series – the ultimate introduction to the Lawman of the Future!
Mega-City One is under siege from the Dark Judges, Dredd has been exiled to the harsh wastelands of the Cursed Earth and time is running out for the citizens he once swore to protect. With the body-count rising and hope running out, will the Judges be able to turn back the tide of death?
Essential Judge Dredd: Necropolis is the ultimate Judge Dredd Vs The Dark Judges storyline. A comic book ‘summer blockbuster’, written and drawn by Dredd’s co-creators John Wagner (A History of Violence) and Carlos Ezquerra (Strontium Dog), where Dredd must reclaim his badge from the imposter Judge Kraken and retake Mega-City One from the grip of the Dark Judges; Death, Fear, Fire and Mortis.
Necropolis was a massive storyline in the annals of 2000AD history. It was proceeded with portents of foreshadowing and the aftershocks of the storyline were felt many years after. I recall this series with a kind of fondness as it is such a good story.
The comic starts with the run up to the main event and we learn that Judge Dredd has taken the long walk to the Cursed Earth. In Mega City One, Judge Kraken (Judge Dredd’s clone brother) is sentenced to death for his part in the Judda rebellion. However, a plan is hatched to replace Judge Dredd with his clone brother, Kraken, in attempt to plug the gap that the retirement of Judge Dredd has left.
Necropolis, written and drawn by the dream team of Dredd creator John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, and brings back fan favourites Judge Death and the Dark Judges (Mortis, Fear & Fire), and also brings in the Sisters of Death, Nausea & Phobia.
So, if you are not familiar with Judge Dredd & the Dark Judges, let me explain! The Dark Judges are from a parallel dimension in which they have judged that all crime is undertook by the living, so in an attempt to rid crime, they have deemed that all life is the crime and have eradicated the sin from their own world by eradicating life.
It was so good to revisit this seminal storyline. The story is as fresh as it was thirty years ago. Surprisingly, it does have an element that was a little risky in that the main protagonists don’t actually make an appearance until quite some way into the story. You would expect that the main characters would be the star of the show from the beginning, but there is a significant amount of story building with the Sisters of Death before the Dark Judges make an appearance and devastate Mega City One. In addition, Judge Dredd does not blast his way on to the page until much later in the story, and he has been radically changed by his time in the Cursed Earth.
The artwork by Carlos Ezquerra is equally as amazing as the story. As I said earlier, the story was written in 1990 and it does reflect the time period. Madchester was in full swing and there was a neo - psychedelic edge to popular culture and this is evident in the multi- coloured panels and vivid strokes that were present in Esquerra’s art.
The story itself is cleverly written by John Wagner, highlighting that Dredd can never be replaced, and we see that as Judge Kraken succumbs to doubt and questions his ability as a law maker. Wagner does not hold anything back and this is an over the top storyline that continues to delight.
If you are new to the earlier Judge Dredd storylines, is this a good place to dive in? It is a steep learning curve and some knowledge of earlier storylines is useful as there are references to these stories and the mythology surrounding Judge Death, such as when he was encased in the expanding plastic Boing in one of the earlier stories, or the time that Judge Anderson was taken over by Death. However, I think that the new reader should get along with this iconic story and be able to enjoy it without hours of investigation.