Tuesday, 12 August 2014

'Judge Dredd, Day of Chaos: Fallout' - Various (Rebellion)

Over the years, I've become used to Mega City One being trampled all over and millions of citizens dying. It's like an extra season in a way; 'Spring', 'Summer', 'Autumn', 'Winter' and 'Mega City One being beaten to within an inch of its crime-ridden life'. It's always fun to be a spectator when 'Catastrophe Season' rolls round and 2000AD outdid themselves with the 'Day of Chaos' storyline; the Mega City skyline in flames, 350 million dead citizens and Justice Department struggling to mount any kind of resistance to the anarchy that the city is sliding into. 'The Fourth Faction' and 'Endgame' were awesome reads but where do you go from there? How can you top such a powerful story?

The answer is that you can't really top it but there is still a wealth of stories to be told in the shattered remains of the city. And that's what 'Fallout' is all about, an exploration of the aftermath of 'Chaos Day' and, I suspect, seeds being sown for future tales.

Dredd's actions, thirty years ago, led to the viral attack on Mega City One so it's only fitting that the bulk of this volume concentrates on how he is bearing up under the strain. Dredd is a fairly one dimensional character, from what I've seen, so it is interesting to see cracks starting to show in the fa├žade at the same time as he is busting perps. Stories like 'Wolves' and 'Save Him' force Dredd to face up to his actions in really intense ways (some incredible artwork from Currie backs this up) and the fact that you know Dredd will pull through is besides the point; it's all about internal conflict and in more ways than one, *COUGH*'Save Him'*COUGH!* Dredd knows where the responsibility for Chaos Day ultimately lies but he still has a job to do and he's going to get it done. It's an interesting dynamic that I wouldn't mind following further. Would it go to the logical conclusion or would the writers decide that Dredd is made of sterner stuff? Like I said, just the fact that you can see those cracks at all is really telling… 

There's fifty million other people, than Dredd, in the Big Meg though and 'Fallout' also chronicles the attempts of the 'Chaos Day' survivors to make something of themselves, generally involving varying degrees of illegal activity from breaking and entering ('Sealed', a moving tale that had me getting a piece of dust out of my eye, ahem…) to grave robbing ('The Pits') to seceding from Mega City One entirely ('Debris', superb artwork from PJ Holden and a story to match). The theme just about stays on the right side of being too repetitive, built only just, luckily for the writers there are a million different ways to break the law in the Big Meg. The only stories that didn't work for me were 'Wastelands' and 'Power Struggle'; the switch to the machinations of the rich/big corporations came at the expense of the raw emotion of the survivors at ground level and these stories felt a little detached as a result.The art was a little bit lacklustre too...

'Fallout' is one of those books that you're only really likely to read if you've already read the preceding volumes but, as far as I'm concerned, it's still a worthy follow up (albeit with a couple of misses amongst all the hits) to possibly one of the biggest events in the history of Mega City One. Nothing will ever be the same again and 'Fallout' leaves you in no doubt as to just why that is.

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