COMIC REVIEW: Judge Dredd – Day of Chaos: The Fourth Faction

Day of Chaos: The Fourth Faction is the first collection of what’s considered to be a modern 2000 AD classic. How does it stand up for someone who has been away from Britain’s best comic for a  while?

 

The simple answer is very well indeed. As we join events there’s been a change in the leadership of Mega City One, the sprawling metropolis covering the eastern seaboard of the future USA. Chief Judge Sinfield has been sent to Titan, for reasons which aren’t explained in this book, and former Mayor Ambrose has been revealed to be the infamous serial killer PJ Maybe.

As with most Dredd collections, this isn’t a single story, but a series of interconnecting arcs against a pretty consistent backdrop. The first of which, “The Skinning Room,” deals with a charming gent who tailors his clothes from human skin, this is 2000AD after all.

As the arcs progress, Dredd starts to receive warnings from a young PSI Judge called Hennessey, who has a less than stellar record of predictions. Initially sceptical, Dredd  becomes convinced as in this instance she seems to be on the money in identifying a future “day of chaos” which will challenge the very existence of Mega City One.

We also see Dredd back on the streets with Judge Hershey, highlighting their relationship. There’s a respect between these two which goes beyond Dredd’s relationship with other Judges. The way in which he doesn’t berate her when she gets hurt is probably the closest thing I’ve seen to Ol’ Joe being tender.

I’m a sucker for different nationalities and types of Judges. In this book we get to see Judicial Sniper Units and a design of Med Judge I don’t recall seeing before. I also like the updated design for the Lawmaster, although it appears not every Judge gets a new bike…rank has its privileges after all.

PJ Maybe gives us another arc, his dark deeds have a satirical edge to them that works with the humour of the book. Characters like Urb Karlan, an obvious reference to Dredd’s movie persona and the use of Ed Gein Block (the real-life inspiration for Leatherface and Norman Bates) really jumped out at me.

The main threat it appears comes from East Meg, the Russian super-state that Dredd nuked back in The Apocalypse War. In the latter half of the book we have an interwoven tale of sleeper agents and flashbacks to the war.  These are well-handled but I’d have rather had a clearer distinction between the current and flashback sequences in the artwork.

Speaking of the art, I was particularly impressed with Ben Willsher’s work as well as a fantastic cover by Greg Staples. There wasn’t any weak art in this collection, top notch throughout.

At £17.99, the book feels a little expensive next to some of the other UK collections like the Panini Marvel books, but search around online and you can pick it up for just over a tenner. The other complaint I have is that the binding of my review copy split almost immediately that I opened the book.

That didn’t detract from this being a great book, enjoyable for new and old readers alike. I can’t wait to get the other volumes and get caught up!

 

Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Dave W

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