Welcome to this week's comic review. Lucky for you, I am merging two graphic novels together in this post. The first graphic novel is The Dead Man, and the second is Judge Dredd: Complete Case Files 14. Together they form the Necropolis saga - aka the return of the Dark judges some of my favourite 2000 AD strips. Let us dive in.
Tales of the Dead Man. Written by John Wagner and illustrated by John Ridgway.
"In the harsh wastelands of the Cursed Earth, Yassa Povey makes a gruesome discovery; the badly burned body of a dead man. But the 'dead man' lives and when Yassa takes him back to his village to help him recover, something evil follows. Soon villagers start dying and the Dead Man is sent into exile. Yassa follows, curious to know more about the stranger. However, it is a decision he will come to regret, as Yassa is plunged into a world of horror when the Dead Man discovers the shocking truth behind his identity!"
I remember reading this as a young child. Meaning I know the surprise twist. That in no way discouraged me from the entertaining read. Throughout, we watch Yassa unknowingly head straight into danger time and time again. What draws him into helping the Dead Man is never understood or explained, and we are left to believe he is just a pure soul. This is helpful as the Dead Man needs one to help face off against creeping horror that is stalking across the Cursed Earth. Now for the spoilers! If you wish to not know then stop reading now. The Dead Man is actually Judge Dredd, after taking the Long Walk he is attacked by the Sister's Phobia and Nausea and hounded across the Cursed Earth. By the end of the story, Yassa is left blinded by his experiences, whilst Dredd is ready to go save Mega-City One. This ending perfectly leads us into the Case Files Volume 14 which we will now delve into.
The graphic novel picks up straight from the above tale with Tale of Dead Man. Judge Dredd aka Dead Man is heading back to MC-1 and with his memory restored he starts to recall how this all happened. We learn of Dredd having severe doubts about the Justice System, his entire belief shaken beyond repair by a letter from a child. With doubts nagging in his mind Judge Dredd is forced to complete the training of Cadet Kraken, a former Judda and an actual clone brother of Dredd. During the final tests, Dredd realizes Kraken is flawed and fails him, before requesting to retire and take the long walk (leading us to the above Dead Man story). A great arc, for once showing that Dredd is only a human and that even he has doubts and fears. It also shows us an ageing Dredd, something not truly mentioned until now, but Dredd is noticing he is being slower with age. After this tale, we enter an official countdown of strips to Necropolis, a 5 strip countdown starting with Lethal Injection (which is technically 5 & 4 of the countdown).
Countdown to Necropolis 2-1. Dear Annie. The last of the opening tales and more strangely zero Judge Dredd/Kraken. The story opens with Chip writing a letter to an agony aunt style publication. Chip retells his concerns about his wife who had a run-in with Judge Death. Following her encounter she falls into a coma for days, upon awaking and returning home she is forever changed. Xena the wife becomes obsessed with Judge Death, believing herself to be his wife she plots to kill Chip. As we reach the end of the story Xena sacrifices Chip, this breaks her out of her hypnosis but it is too late the Sisters of Death are loose in the city.
Necropolis 26 parts. We are finally here, Necropolis. The Sisters of Death are loose in MC-1 and a chaotic adventure starts at Rowdy Yates in Dredd's apartment. The Sisters announce their present to Dredd and attempt to overwhelm him. The first attempt fails but they do manage to affect his mind and over time they wear down Kraken's defences until they finally control him. Now with Kraken as a puppet they use him to find a stronger host one PSI Judge Agee.
Judge Anderson discovers the plot and using her powers is able to force the information out of a confused Kraken. As the Justice Department mobilizes its might, the sisters strike. Within moments the Sisters have neutralized the force and have taken over Judge Kraken. Using him as a puppet they force him to attack Judge Anderson, but before he can finish the job Anderson is seemingly crushed by a tank! With Dredd in the Cursed Earth, Anderson dead and Kraken mind controlled the City is wide open to attack. With their new Judge Puppet, the Sisters use Kraken and the Tech 21 facility to bring the Dark Judges back from limbo, it would seem Judgement Day is here in MC-1.