Judgement Day (Judge Dredd)


Judgement Day (Judge Dredd)

"Judgement Day" was a Judge Dredd story published with alternating episodes in both "2000 AD" and the "Judge Dredd Megazine" in 1992. It was the first crossover between the two publications; three more have since followed. It was also a crossover with another "2000 AD" series, "Strontium Dog", the second occasion when Judge Dredd confronted Johnny Alpha. It was written by Garth Ennis (based on an idea by John Wagner) and illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra, Peter Doherty, Dean Ormston and Chris Halls.

Set mainly in 2114 it tells of how the Fourth World War took the lives of three billion people when a powerful necromagus called Sabbat raised all the corpses in the world as zombies. The series is mainly notable because it was Ennis' longest Dredd story, because it killed off most of the supporting cast of the "Judge Dredd" series, and because it was the first story to feature Johnny Alpha since he was killed off at the end of the "Strontium Dog" series (from Alpha's point of view it was set two years before his death).

Plot

The story opens with Sabbat, in an unknown location underground, beginning to raise the dead. Judge Dredd is one of the first people to encounter the zombies while leading a group of cadets (including Cadet Giant), on a training mission in the Cursed Earth. Although Dredd leads the cadets back to the relative safety of Mega-City One, Judge Perrier (Dredd's main sidekick during Ennis' tenure on writing for the strip) is killed only yards from home.

On his arrival Dredd is informed that the dead are rising all over the world. Minor foreign Judges from earlier Dredd strips are shown protecting their respective cities - Judge Armour in Brit-Cit, Judge-Sergeant Joyce in Murphyville etc. Mega-City One, due to Necropolis, finds itself facing the largest number of zombies: sixty million. Soon into the battle for Mega-City One, Dredd's protégé Judge Dekker is also killed and Dredd has to give the order to set fire to part of the cities' wall to hold back the zombies.

Meanwhile in Hondo City (future Japan) bounty hunter Johnny Alpha arrives in pursuit of Sabbat, time-travelling from the year 2178. It later transpires that Sabbat is from Alpha's time and has already wiped out the entire population of another world, Bethsheba. Alpha has been sent to stop him. (It is never explained how the outbreak of a world war in 2114 does not seem to affect history in 2178.) However Alpha is apprehended by Judge Sadu (effectively Hondo's equivalent to Dredd), who assumes he is a criminal, and Alpha is forced to spend some considerable time proving his good intentions.

The Hondo authorities organise and host an international conference of chief judges from all over the world to decide how to deal with the zombie threat. It is attended by Dredd and by Mega-City One's Chief Judge McGruder, who leaves Judge Hershey in charge of the city in her absence. Alpha and Sadu also attend, Sadu by now being convinced that Alpha is on the level. Most of the foreign Judges Dredd met in earlier strips attend the conference too.

The conference is interrupted by the unexpected intrusion of Sabbat himself, who teleports in to warn the judges not to interfere with his plans, which are to kill everyone in the world and then use the army of zombies to conquer the Galaxy. Dredd shoots Sabbat in the head, apparently causing a mortal wound, but to no effect, as Sabbat simply removes the bullet and vanishes.

Reports come in that five mega-cities around the world have been overrun by the zombies, including Mega-City Two on North America's west coast (a city which Dredd had previously saved from destruction in "The Cursed Earth"). Dredd proposes that instead of allowing the cities' populations to serve as more undead soldiers for Sabbat, they should be annihilated with nuclear weapons, even though there may still be survivors trapped within them. Although horrified by the plan, the chief judges agree to carry it out, with the loss of two billion lives. (Another billion are lost in the cities which survive.)

Once scientists figure out where Sabbat is based, Dredd leads a suicide mission to assassinate him; all the previously-introduced foreign Judges are drafted, backed up by Hondo's Samurai battle armour. He bans Alpha from attending because he is a mutant and a wanted criminal in Mega-City One, but Alpha sneaks aboard Dredd's spaceship, his face concealed by a Samurai visor.

Dredd's team are forced to parachute from low orbit into Sabbat's lair, as Sabbat is using his powers to prevent all flying vehicles from working outside the mega-cities. They land in the radioactive Radlands of Ji (in post-nuclear China), where most of them are slaughtered. Out of twenty who started the mission, soon only Dredd, Alpha and Sadu are left, and are taken prisoner.

While Sabbat taunts his prisoners about his imminent victory, Sadu manages to escape and release Dredd and Alpha, but sacrifices his life in the process. After a lengthy fight, Dredd and Alpha eventually manage to decapitate Sabbat, and leave him helpless, powerless, but still alive (although a story published three months later reveals he has lost his mind and is reduced to a drooling vegetable). At the moment of Sabbat's defeat, his zombies instantly "switch off" and collapse all over the world at the eleventh hour.

In recognition of Alpha's help, Dredd recommends that he be pardoned for his earlier crimes. However they still face a long walk back to civilisation through hundreds of miles of radioactive desert populated with hostile mutants and outlaws. Dredd is optimistic about their chances though, saying "Who the hell's gonna mess with us?"

Criticism

The crossover between the two comics was not popular with all readers, some of whom resented having to buy both or miss out on important episodes. The format made no concessions to those who only bought one publication, as the story was entirely linear, with two episodes a fortnight in the weekly "2000 AD" followed by a third episode in the (then) fortnightly "Megazine". The editors attempted to address this problem in the next two crossovers, "Wilderlands" (1994) and "The Doomsday Scenario" (1999), by having two separate plot threads in each story, one in each comic, so that readers who only bought one could still follow the story.

This story arc is also notable for the fact that it features some of the first published artwork from Chris Halls, an early pseudonym of the acclaimed director Chris Cunningham. The artwork in question was subject to much criticism regarding the extreme similarity in style to Simon Bisley's work.

Aftermath in Judge Dredd

In the immediate aftermath, a Sino-Cit nuclear silo almost hit Hondo City with a pre-programmed retalitator assault from Sino-Cit One's destruction. Dredd and Alpha prevented this from happening, and Alpha was returned to his home time afterwards. ("Pre-Emptive Revenge" audio drama by Big Finish)

With every Judge focused on the external threat, crimelords and gangs had seized control over parts of the city such as Sector 123; the initial aftermath would involve regaining control ("The Taking of Sector 123", Megazine #2.10-11). As a result of Sabbat's actions, there would be occasional spontaneous zombie risings for a while after ("The Kinda Dead Man", 2000AD prog 816).

The loss of Judge life inspired Chief Judge McGruder to instigate the Mechanismo project, as well as causing Earth's Mega-Cities to stop sending Judges to Luna-1 and causing the colony's Judge force to suffer as a result ("Breathing Space", 2000AD prog 1451-9).

Following out of Judgement Day, Hondo City began rebuilding Mega-City Two so as to move many of their citizens over there ("Chopper: Supersurf 13", 2000AD prog 964-971). This was part of an aborted storyline that was intended to lead up to a new mega-epic, featuring a major global conflict between Mega-City One and Hondo City & Sino-Cit 2; it was abandoned when John Wagner returned to 2000AD's Dredd strip.

Publication

It ran in both magazines:

*"Judgement Day" (all written by Garth Ennis)):
** "Judgement Day" (with Peter Doherty (1, 2, 10, 11 and 19) and Carlos Ezquerra (4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 14, 16, 17 and 20), in "2000 AD" #786-799, 1992)
** "Judgement Day" (with Dean Ormston (1-3 and 5-6) and Chris Halls (4) , in "Judge Dredd Megazine" #2.04-2.09, 1992)

As well as being collected by two different publishers:

*"Judge Dredd Judgement Day":
** Hamlyn, 1999, ISBN 0-600-59970-1
** DC/Rebellion, also collects "The Kinda Dead Man" from prog 816, 2004, ISBN 1-904265-19-7

ee also

2000 AD crossovers

External links

* [http://www.2000adonline.com/index.php3?zone=thrill&page=thrillcredits&choice=Judgement_Day&Comic=2000AD 2000 AD's Judge Dredd timeline entry]
* [http://www.2000adreview.co.uk/reviews/extra/2005/trades/judgement_day/dredd_judgement_day.shtml Review of "Judgement Day" trade paperback]


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