Review – Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files Volume 05

Judge Dredd – The Complete Case Files 05

2000ad Progs 208 – 270

Year 2103-2104

Judge Dredd rides into action in this fifth volume. Arch-nemesis Judge Death rises from the grave once again in ‘Judge Death Lives’, citizen is pitted against citizen in ‘Block Mania’ and the apocalypse comes to Mega-City One in the all time classic Dredd epic ‘The Apocalypse War’

And so the Judge Dredd case file juggernaut rolls on and we arrive at volume 5, I have a quick confession to make at this point volume 5 was a Christmas preset and has been sat on my to read list since then. Why ? I’m not too sure maybe I was worried about the Apocalypse War not living up to my expectations the story does date back to 1982 and is regarded by many to be the ultimate Dredd epic could it really be that could?

The short answer is HELL YEAH

This volume of the case files can be split into four main story arcs first out of the blocks are the increasingly bizarre one or two part stories from The Mega Rackets Crime Files. These are the kind of stories that have appeared in the previous case files and are as much to do with the citizens of Mega City One and world building as they are to do with Dredd. Highlights include The Body Sharks which revolves around loan sharks who take out extraordinary insurance policies to make sure you keep up the repayments, The Sookie Glanders is about the whole sale farming and slaughtering of an alien race for an anti ageing drug and then finally there’s Mob Wars which ties up all the previous stories into one off the wall story where aliens are plotting to take over Mega City One’s mob rackets by any means necessary. The great thing about all these stories is that they are written with the sly sense of humour and knowing wink of the eye that we have come to expect from the writing team of Wagner and Grant who when called for can write bizarre and off beat with the best of them.

Next up is the return of Dredd’s arch nemesis Judge Death in Judge Death Lives. This mini epic also acts as an introduction to the three dark judges Fire, Fear and Mortis. After being released from his tomb of Boing, Death once again goes on the Judging rampage in Mega City One. Unfortunately for the citizens of Meg 1 the Dark Judges believe life to be ultimate crime so there’s a lot of judging to be done. Cue Dredd and Anderson (recently released from the Boing tomb with Death) opening a can of whoop ass on the Dark Judges and chasing them back to their own dimension for the ultimate face off. And if all that wasn’t enough for you thrill seekers this story includes one of Brian Bolland’s most famous panels if not one of the most famous panels in British comic history – yes, that right it’s the ‘Fist of Dredd’ panel

The second half of this volume of the case files contains just two stories, firstly Block Mania which then follows immediately into the epic Apocalypse War. Block Mania kicks of innocently enough with an ice cream being dropped of one of the Blocks but pretty soon chaos ensues as block takes on block in the ultimate turf war which in typical Mega City One style involves firstly tens of thousands of people and then millions as block mania sweeps Mega City One. As Dredd and the other Judges investigate and try to combat these block wars it becomes clear that they are not random acts of violence and mayhem, a sinister plot is afoot perpetrated by the sinister East One Meg agent Sov Judge Orlok ……..dun dun dun.

Block Mania acts as a prologue to the main event which is The Apocalypse War, a cold war inspired story that would change Mega City One for ever.

Originally published between January and July 1982, The Apocalypse War was written by TB Grover the pseudonym John Wagner and Alan Grant fact fans, it is also important to point out that this was the first time ever in a Dredd epic that a single artist one Carlos Ezquerra was used for the entire run. What a difference it makes, there’s a lovely continuity of design that’s runs through out the story with no jarring change of artists which can sometimes be distracting.

With Mega City One still reeling after the effects of the Block Mania wars East Meg One launches a devastating surprise attack, this includes nuclear attacks on random sectors, space battles and those pesky East Sov’s even raise a tsunami to flood the city killing 150 million people – bloody hell.

Mega City One is unable to strike back at East Meg One due to the latter’s inter dimensional force field and when they turn to there allies Texas City and Mega City Two they are refused help effectively leaving Meg One isolated and alone.

There are so many classic Dredd moments in this story we could be here all day here are just a few of the highlights, Dredd wiping out 500 million lives with the flick of switch, Dredd dealing with the Sov collaborators, the assassination of Chief Judge Griffin and so on.

The Apocalypse War is a true stone cold classic and is as resonant today as it was back in ’82. What must it have been like back in the day, the real world was in the grip of the Cold War and the fear of a Nuclear War was ever present and then little Johnny pop’s down to the newsagents on a Monday with his 16p and 2000ad are playing out the Apocalypse War. It’s a wonder any 2000ad reader remained sane.

Now for my only gripe about this collection and it’s to do with the printing quality. Some of the pages look really dark especially in the Mega Racket Crime Files and in some panels it’s impossible to work out what’s actually happening, a small issue I know but it can be annoying.

Overall though it’s another classic Dredd collection quite where Wagner and Grant take Dredd and Mega City One after the devastation Apocalypse war I for one can’t wait to find out, suffice to say Volume 6 is already on order (just don’t tell the wife)

Rating – 5/5

Dry Slaps – unfortunately 1 for the printing issue

GS Reviewer Nick Roberts


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  1. Sean O'Leary /

    Where did you find this? I’ve been looking and it’s sold out everywhere!

    • Nick Roberts /

      Got mine from Amazon UK had a quick look around and they are out of stock everywhere have you tried your local library ?



      Sent from my iPod

    • wetwebwork /

      I ordered the “Complete Case Files 05” from after not being able to find it anywhere else. After two or three months (really) I got an email saying it had been dispatched, and sure enough, it turned up. Another option is the book depository who will email you when stock comes in.

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