I'm relatively unfamiliar with this 2000 AD era, so I was looking forward to seeing how things had changed in my absence. (It feels pitched a bit older than I remembered. There's nudity and they've dropped the fake SF swearing, e.g. saying "bloody" instead of "drokk". Grud's still Grud, though.)
Anyway, I bought this because I'd heard that Day of Chaos was the landmark story of this era, not so much for quality (although it's good) as for sheer apocalyptic game-changing. It was huge. Even John Wagner's fellow writers were taken aback by how drastic and blood-soaked it was. Thus I bought this Rebellion graphic collection, comprising:
THE SKINNING ROOM (Wagner & Willsher, 30 pages, 2000 AD 1700-1704)
It's not immediately obvious why this story was included in this collection. It's quite a good serial killer yarn, but Judge Dredd has lots of those.
No, what's important is the scene-setting. Chief Judge Sinfield's been sent to Titan, the city's barely under control and Dredd's on the Council of Five (and going out of his mind with boredom). There's been institutionalised anti-mutant racism. Fortunately, our anti-hero has some suggestions. A crackdown. Zero tolerance. This is a man who'll shoot you in the street, then add another year to your sentence for bleeding on the pedway. He brings in Justice Department snipers to kill anyone they don't like the look of.
HOT NIGHT IN 95 (Wagner & Johnson, 30 pages, Judge Dredd Megazine 307, 308, 310)
There's a fattie professional eating tournament (played for comedy) and a bunch of terrorist suicide attacks. This is the start of it. The latest fashion is stoning. Yes, as in "stoning to death" in Biblical times. This story's a reasonably good example of Wagner's sense of humour, how dark he gets and how comfortable he is with both at once.
"They're using citizens as shields!"
"Citizens are expendable! Take them out!"
THE FURTHER DASTERDLY DEEDS OF PJ MAYBE (Wagner & MacNeil, 18 pages, 2000 AD 1740-1742)
PJ Maybe is still around? Good grief. I remember him from the 1980s. He saw Necropolis. What's more, he's been a busy chap, using face-changing technology to get elected as Mayor of Mega-City One. He even did a good job. He's clever, after all.
They've caught him now, though. Dredd wants to execute him, but gets outvoted. This is a mistake.
NADIA (Wagner & Willsher, 49 pages, 2000 AD 1743-1749)
Agents and assassins are at work in Mega-City One. Psi-Judge Hennessy sees chaos on election day, but she's not a particularly reliable psychic and the only one who'll listen to her is Dredd.
This is where things gets serious. It's a continuation and escalation of those terrorist actions, with Nadia herself being an Orlok-level assassin and specifically targeting Dredd. Hennessy predicts him getting his brains blown out and she's closer to the truth than you'd think. I was amused by Dredd's down-to-earth reaction to learning that a woman's going to kill him, though. "So it's a she. That's progress at least."
THE FOURTH FACTION (Wagner & Flint, 12 pages, 2000 AD 1750-1751)
The Sovs are on the move and outwitting the Council of Five. They're scary and ruthless, albeit conveniently forgetful about the small matter of who invaded who to start the Apocalypse War all those years ago.
ELUSIVE (Wagner & Flint, 36 pages, 2000 AD 1753-1758)
PJ Maybe's back again and even manages to be a bit sinister. He's normally a fun guy and his serial killings are a laugh, but he's still someone you really, really wouldn't like to cross. (Judge Benny's here too, incidentally. Yes, she's related to Bennett Beeny from Wagner/MacNeil's America, although this story doesn't mention her parents.)
This is one of several Judge Dredd collections I bought months ago, but took ages to get around to reading. I never seemed to be in the mood. I've started them at last now, though, and this first one's pretty good. I'd forgotten what an odd series Judge Dredd is, incidentally. His adventures will soon have been running for fifty years, but their pacing's unlike anything else (even in 2000 AD) because it's an ultra-violent police procedural being told in six-page weekly episodes. Most of it's just a cop on the beat. A horrifying cop who'd be the villain of any other comics series, admittedly, but a cop. This is liable to get bitty and repetitive... until, every so often, big things happen. This one's supposed to be up there with the biggest of them.