2000 AD Prog Slog

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Prog 794

As Judge Dredd mega epics go, Judgement Day isn’t quite hitting the spot as far as I’m concerned but then I am an old school Squaxx dek Thargo whose definition of what constitutes a good saga has been set by The Cursed Earth, The Day the Law Dies, The Judge Child Quest and The Apocalypse War. The premise of Judgement Day has some guy called Sabbat travel back through time to Dredd’s age to reanimate the world’s dead and have them attack the Mega Cities.

The real problem happens a couple of episodes ago when Dredd orders the nuclear destruction of five Mega Cities because they have become over run with Sabbat’s zombies. That’s two billion living people killed as a consequence of Dredd’s sense of realism; “Then we nuke ‘em!” Firstly, there’s no real logic to this course of action because this prog, the international unit of Judges led by Dredd are on a mission to attack Sabbat before the surviving cites get overrun. This suggests that they hope that stopping their leader will mean all zombies will drop down on the spot. In which case, why wipe out five overwhelmed but remote cities when it doesn’t really matter where the living dead are when they collapse?

Also, as decisive and pragmatic as Dredd can be he wouldn’t decide to destroy five Mega Cites without giving it very serious consideration first. Here, it seems to be the first option that pops into his head. “Drokk it, I can’t be bothered. Let’s nuke ‘em! We all wanna get home in time for The Apprentice tonight, right?” To add out of character insult to injury, as soon as the cities get wiped off the face of the Earth, instead of a moments meditation on the two billion people that have been vaporised, Dredd has a revenge brawl with Sadu and Alpha in the back room!

For me, this is where the story really falls apart. Which is a shame because Garth Ennis has proven to be a strong writer elsewhere, the art by Carlos Ezquerra, Peter Doherty and the rest is great and Johhny Alpha and the best of the world’s judges being in the same story as Dredd really appeals to my pre-2000 AD Marvel Team-Up loving self.

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  • When I initially read the episodes many moons ago, I was under the assumption that unless they did something quickly, they would be overrun, and that's why Judge Dredd gave the kill order.

    They had to buy themselves some time in order to figure out what to do next, and that plan was to get to Sabbat.

    My DC-self tells me also that it might have been something akin to a Crisis on Infinite Earths moment.

    By Blogger Crucifer, at 2:45 am  

  • What I'd like to know is what you're thinking of the recently started Zenith phase 4?

    I never really thought the Sabbat character was that great, I loved reading the stuff with Joe and Johnny and you've got an all time great one-liner coming in the last episode.

    By Blogger Kevin Levell, at 9:36 am  

  • Read Judgement Day just last night in one sitting (wasn't expecting to have the time but my wife's exam on Friday and the need to study for it is turning into a bit oh a nerd boon... selfish, what selfish...). Have to say that I agree with everything you say Paul.

    This epic should work. Dredd in Zombie epic – tick, crossover with Johnny Alpha – tick, involvement of all the world’s Judges in one epic – tick, two great creators behind it in Garth Ennis and John Wagner – tick, great team of artists, tick. There see can’t go wrong.

    Yet it does.

    The detail just doesn’t quite pull of its potential. It seems that the problem with epics at this point is that they’ve not recovered from the Apocalypse War, to top that they have to be bigger, more dramatic than what has gone before. Leading to the problems you mentioned.

    I mean the idea that destroying the other mega cities to create time just doesn’t work. Did they think that the dead of Mega City Two would be able to get across The Cursed Earth in the 48 hours that it’d been established the remaining Mega Cities had left? And this in a time before the controversial fast zombie! If one of the remits of the story was to make Dredd’s world smaller and therefore return the Mega Cities to the more isolated status they once had, that objective is achieved already by the populations of the cities being wiped out by Zombies anyway (which could have lead to some chilling stories of Dredd visiting these graveyard cities too). So this leaves me wondering if this plot point was there to re-establish Dredd as the cold hearted pragmatist that recent stories had moved him away from, as age had seemed to soften him? If so surely this could have been done in other ways?

    There are also some attempts at humour that while harking back to the fact that Dredd stories have always had a dark, bitter humour interweaved with tales of terrible violence, just seemed to trip up the tension the story was building.

    The beginning with the smaller story of Dredd and Cadets trapped by Zombie in the Cursed Earth is a great start and may have been a better way to tell the majority of the story with Dredd’s isolation and desperation to get back to the city to defend it being the driving force behind his story. Johnny Alpha’s story could give some of the bigger picture as he sort Dredd out as the best person to help him take down Sabbat. I guess this kind of ‘what if’ or ‘I’d have done this’ postulating gets you no where, just seems a shame that such a great story idea didn’t work.

    By Blogger Colin, at 1:10 pm  

  • ...and MY DC-Self was bitterly disappointed that Sabbat (sh*t name) hadn't turned out to be Malak Brood, which would have been all kinds of awesome.

    By Blogger Amanda, at 2:09 pm  

  • Hi Crucifer. The attack on Sabbat is the thing they had to do quickly before the rest of the cites got over run. If the nuking of the overrun cites happened for the same reason it still doesn't quite make sense to me.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:36 pm  

  • Kevin, Sabbat is a bit of a "comic book" villain, in every sense of the lazy journalist usage.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:37 pm  

  • Great assesment, Colin. I always worry when someone has recently read the same stories I'm covering. Any inaccuracy on my part is gonna be more apparant to you.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:40 pm  

  • Amanda, don't spoil it! (Don't worry, I'm only joking - I've read it before).

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:42 pm  

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