Review by Luke Williams
Seemingly in answer to a question that was never asked, Tharg has commissioned an alternate universe strip to commemorate the 30th anniversary of one of the most divisive and least nuanced Judge Dredd mega epics : ”Judgement Day”.
Split over 2000AD Prog 2300 and Judge Dredd Megazine 448, readers are treated to seeing their favourite (and some questionable) 2000AD characters as the brain scoffing undead.
“Judgement Days” hypothesises “What if Judgement Day had gone inter dimensional?”. Deviating from the Garth Ennis written, Ezquerra / Halls / Ormston drawn zombie fest – Necromancer Sabbat’s assault is deflected by the Mega Cities, but only for the plague to crossover into other non Dreddverse strips to wreak havoc and pile the bodies high.
By the way, minor spoilers ahoy.
Tharg has learned some of the lessons from the flawed Sci fi Special of 2021, the crossover event within Dredd’s world that shoehorned a grand tour of the Dreddverse into 48 pages. Squeezing that much into such a small space made the joins visible and the story suffered. This is similar but expanding its scope and page count pays dividends.
The zombie plague spreads through the 2000AD “multiverse”, which seems like something Rebellion want to turn into a “thing”, turning many of the most popular and long unused (often for a reason) characters to the legions of the living dead. This being an alternate “Judgement Day” Johnny Alpha and Dredd still feature prominently as the battle for the multiverse rages . Prog’ 2300 is the whistlestop tour of zombified 2000AD characters while Meg’ 448 focuses more on Dredd’s world and the final battle between the dead and undead.
There are a host of familiar names creating the sequences that make up the story and contributions vary in quality. Best are Ian Edginton and D’Israeli’s, the framing sequence by Kenneth Niemand and Henry Flint in the Prog’ with Flint’s reanimated and rotting dinosaurs a highlight, and Niemand and Leigh Gallagher’s climax in the Meg’, Leigh Gallagher having proven his living dead chops with “Defoe”.
Notably there are more interpretations of Johnny Alpha in these two issues than there have been published in the Prog’ over the last 45 years, some far more successful than others. And if nothing else, it’s provided the best “Sinister Dexter” strip for the past year or so.
“Judgement Days” stretches a familiar concept to breaking point for fanboyish thrill. The original “Judgement Day” was nothing more than an exercise in overtaking the bodycount of “Necropolis” and the “Apocalypse War”.
However, ultimately, who doesn’t want to see flesh eating version of the 2000AD megastars? There are a few misfires in here, but is it fun? Yeah, it is. Essential? Grud, no.