Judge Dredd: Necropolis by John Wagner

wagnerj-judgedreddnecropoliThe “Necropolis” story has been reprinted in several forms, as a two-parter and as a single volume. To really appreciate the story, you need to be familiar with a seemingly unconnected prequel called “The Dead Man” (which was crafily not billed as a Judge Dredd story in its original printing in 2000 AD, progs 650-668). Also it benefits you to be familiar with Dredd’s prior dealings with Judge Kraken, another Dredd clone. Also, “A Letter to Judge Dredd” in which Dredd is deeply moved by letter from a young person whose father was killed. Finally there are several short strips called “Countdown to Necropolis” (progs 669-673). Then we get down to “Necropolis” proper – a story that spans 26 issues of the comic (progs 674-699).

As if four Dark Judges who can’t be killed aren’t enough trouble, we now learn that Judge Death has three sisters. The Sisters of Death use a Psi Judge as a bridge to our dimension, enabling the whole Justice Department to be psychically controlled. Mega-City One is now totally at the mercy of the Dark Judges, who proceed on an unparalleled slaughter the likes of which has never been seen before in the pages of Judge Dredd. Dredd himself, having encountered the Sisters in the Cursed Earth, returns to Mega-City One to find the place in utter ruins. He manages to team up with some surviving cadets and Psi Judge Anderson. Together they attempt to overthrow the Dark Judges’ reign. They face insurmountable odds, and even if they win, Mega-City One will never the be the same again.

The story doesn’t sound like anything special, but it’s the backstory that injects it with so much potency – for one, Dredd’s reason for being the Cursed Earth (which I won’t spoil). The best place to read this story properly is in Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 14, where you will get all the extras, or in the two-volume edition published by Titan (2003), where you’ll get some of the extras. Avoid the single-volume edition published by Hamlyn (1998), as it fails to include most of the prequel material. This is deservedly one of the most popular and most remembered stories in the ongoing saga of Judge Dredd.

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