Author: John Wagner | Illustrator: Carlos Ezquerra | Page Count: 192
“If you bring them back, th-thousands will die!”
“I disagree. You’re setting your sights too low. All will die. Total annihilation – it’s the best way!”
In light of some poor decisions by the Justice Department, Chief Judge Silver makes another one that leaves the Big Meg vulnerable. Elsewhere, a door is being opened to a place where judgement of the guilty and the innocent returns the same sentence…the Sisters of Death are ready to move.
Ah, Necropolis. There have been bigger and some would say better Dredd epics since then but it remains my favourite for a number of reasons. It’s not Dredd specific. The story, by original creators Wagner and Ezquerra, is much too big for just one man to carry. PSI Division plays an important role, which means Judge Anderson's talents are needed. It splits the reactions and resolutions in a number of different ways. That could've made it feel fragmented but John Wagner was too focussed to allow that to happen. The build up toward it was extensive (see below) and the aftermath shaped many aspects of the world and the works that followed. In short, it was a huge game changer.
It’s from an era when 2000 AD was commissioning fully painted artwork for many of its ongoing stories. There are time-saving colour blocks but it doesn't feel like a cop out; the colours used are often representative of deeper allusions (e.g. the colours of malady). Ezquerra’s art style will forever be associated with Dredd; those weird black dashes that he uses to outline certain characters became a part of that. I even began to miss them when they weren't there.
Some backstory is needed if you're to fully understand the scope of what happens during the 26 chapter storyline, why it happens and how the Justice Department themselves were partly responsible. The minimum of which would be knowledge of the Morton Judd / Judda storyline and The Dead Man arc. The latter acts as an essential prelude to Necropolis and helps explain why Joe looks like someone has taken a huge acidic shit on his face.
5 black hearts out of 5
EDIT: According to Wiki, the entire Necropolis story is in The Complete Case Files: Volume 14, along with The Dead Man arc that I mentioned above.