END OF DAYS (Williams, MacNeil & Flint, 92 pages, 2000 AD 2184-2195 & 2197-2199)
It's highly praised, but I don't rate its ending.
Most of the story's top-notch, mind you. Dredd's world is under threat again, this time by the four horsemen of the apocalypse! Yes, that's right. War, famine, death and plague /pestilence. That might sound silly, but it's not. Rob Williams makes the horsemen as dangerous as hell. Dredd and his team get crushed like bugs. Both the story and his decisions are unusually merciless, even for him.
It's a globetrotting story, which pleased me because I love exploring Dredd's world. (The whole planet's on the brink of being wiped out this time.) Buratino made me go "what the hell is that?" There's a deep rightness to who gets chosen by Death (and no, it's not Judge Death again). All that I liked, but...
Firstly, it's resolved with a time-looping plot device. I'm not convinced this works. It all fits together, yes, but I was watching a writer join the dots instead of admiring the characters' courage or intelligence. Then, in addition, there's Ichabod Azrael. He's the hero of another Rob Williams series and here he's reasonably impressive, but his reason for his presence is a bit of an "eh?" Was Rob Williams deliberately going for an anticlimax? Maybe that worked for fans who'd been reading all of Azrael's adventures from the beginning, but for me it turned this particular story into a bit of a shaggy dog tale.
CARRY THE NINE (Williams, Wyatt & Cook, 24 pages, 2000 AD 2200-2203)
This, on the other hand, threatens to overturn everything we know.
Judge Maitland, head of Accounts, realises that she can cure crime. What's more, it wouldn't involve megalomaniac villainous schemes and would work. (She thinks. I reckon she's identified something real and important, but that in practice she'd be looking at a dramatic reduction, not elimination.) It just takes education. Social services. Training people to be civilised, basically, instead of treating them like dangerous beasts as the Justice Department has always done.
The downside is that they don't have the money. Proper funding for education and social services would mean fewer boots on the streets. There are people in the Justice Department who'd regard such thoughts as proof of criminal intent.
It's sinister, fascinating and evil. It also has gorgeous fully painted art.
THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? (Williams & Cornwell, 12 pages, 2000 AD 2204-2205)
Dredd, Anderson and a talking horse are in the Cursed Earth. This story's fine. Perfectly normal Judge Dredd fare.
Overall, this isn't in any way a bad collection, but I wouldn't praise it as highly as others have. That said, though, End of Days for 90% of its run is as good an apocalyptic Dredd epic as you'll see. I also like Carry the Nine a lot (and I guarantee that we'll see more of this storyline later). You could still do a lot worse.