The Apocalypse War
|"The Apocalypse War"|
|Publisher||IPC Magazines Ltd|
|Publication date||2 January – 26 July, 1982|
|Title(s)||2000 AD progs 245–267, 269–270|
|Writer(s)||John Wagner; Alan Grant|
|Editor(s)||Tharg (Steve MacManus)|
|Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 05||ISBN 1-905437-08-0|
"The Apocalypse War" is a storyline from the comic strip Judge Dredd, first published in British comic 2000 AD in 1982. A sequel to the story "Block Mania", it was written by John Wagner and Alan Grant and illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra. The Apocalypse War covered 25 episodes over 2000 AD progs 245–267 and 269–270.
Set in 2104, it tells of the invasion of Dredd's city, Mega-City One by its Soviet counterpart, East Meg One. While the city is still vulnerable, most of the population having been infected by the Block Mania drug, the East-Meg forces launch a surprise attack on all fronts, including nuking random sectors of the city. Soviet nuclear weapons are then detonated across Mega-City One's Eastern seaboard, creating a tidal wave that destroys the Atlantic Wall and many sectors. With the wall's laser defences gone, the Sovs are able to launch nuclear saturation bombardment of the southern sectors, killing 150 million people in one volley. Mega-City One's nuclear counterstrike is rendered ineffective by East-Meg One's "Apocalypse Warp", a forcefield which diverts the incoming missiles to a peaceful alternative Earth, destroying it in the process. Mega-City Two and Texas City refuse to aid their ally in order to give themselves time to develop their own forcefield. East Meg ground troops then swarm into the stricken city via the Northern sectors, occupying most of it in only four days while Dredd tries to lead a guerrilla resistance movement.
A decisive turning point was the Mega City Judges' use of the Stub Gun, an experimental two handed cutting weapon able to slice through almost any substance. However, while this weapon was very powerful, sustained use would lead to it overheating and exploding. Dredd leads a band of Mega City Judges who "stubbed" a Mega-City transport nexus forcing East-Meg forces through to the city bottom. Thermal charges were employed in a devastating ambush, temporarily holding the invading forces in the north.
In a few days the Soviets, led by War Marshal Kazan, conquer ninety percent of the city, including the Grand Hall of Justice. Chief Judge Griffin is abducted and brainwashed into spreading pro-Sov propaganda, forcing Dredd to assassinate him. With the destruction of Weather Control, unpredictable weather conditions sweep the city. In an attempt to escape the war, many citizens flee to the Cursed Earth, while those deemed Sov collaborators are executed as an example to others.
The war is eventually won when Dredd leads a commando unit (including Judge Anderson) to seize an East-Meg missile silo and uses it to obliterate East-Meg One, with the loss of 500 million lives. East Meg One could not use its force field to protect itself in time, due to the proximity of the silo. With no hope of victory the East-Meg forces inside Mega-City One are defeated by a counterattack and forced to surrender.
The war left Mega-City One in ruins, with many highly radioactive areas and other hazards and half of its 800 million population dead. It fell to the new Chief Judge McGruder to begin the long task of rebuilding.
The destruction of East-Meg One would have consequences in several further stories. In 2121, in the story The Doomsday Scenario, Dredd was abducted and put on trial for war crimes by a group of East-Meg survivors at the New Kremlin, but he escaped and killed many of them before the kangaroo court could return its verdict.
As mentioned in the collected "Block Mania" and "Apocalypse War" Titan reprints, the writers felt that Mega-City One had essentially grown too big. When Judge Dredd started, the Mega-Cities boundaries were not exactly set in stone. Eventually it became established that MC-1 spanned the entire Eastern Seaboard, from the Canada–US border in the north, to the tip of Florida in the south.
The result was a storyline designed to bring Mega City back to a more reasonable size. Most of the southern part of the city was nuked out and four hundred million citizens killed, resulting in a much smaller city centred on the North East. Since this story the population has hovered around 400 million, rising to 420 million in stories set in the early 2110s before losing another sixty million after "Necropolis."
The story was somewhat set up with one previous Dredd tale. Over a year earlier the story "Pirates of the Black Atlantic" ended with the revelation that a seemingly independent nuclear attack on MC-1 had been the work of the Sov block, and East Meg one is forced to destroy one of its own sectors to appease Mega City One. However at the end MC-1 looks to its defences and the Sovs reveal that their plan to attack the American megacity is not ready yet.
When Orlok was finally put on trial years later it was submitted by his defence that the war was actually an act of pre-emptive self defence by the East-Meg One leadership. They obtained through spies a document drawn up by the Mega-City One Council of Five. It was a detailed plan on how to attack their city, kill all of their leaders and most of their citizens, along with war game scenarios, strategies and a date. They believed the date was when this attack would happen and that they couldn't defend against it. What they didn't know was it was just a theory plan, never to be used and was just put together to test ideas. It should have had "reference only" stamped all over it, the copy the East-Meg One Diktatorat got didn't. Believing their destruction was immanent they adapted parts of it and attacked Mega-City One. The whole plan and its part in causing the was kept secret from everyone, apart from the highest level Judges in Mega-City One until the trial, when it became public.
Fallout from the war dominated the strip for the next couple of years with the slow re-building of the city, occupying at least a background role in many stories. The post Apocalypse War status quo has remained in place ever since. Occasional stories have focused on Sov efforts at revenge (either from East Meg 2, or rogue groups), including "Satan's Island" (in which nearly 900,000 citizens lost their lives at the hands of a bio-weapon released by Orlok). This culminated in the events of "Day of Chaos", in which a virus released by survivors of East-Meg One resulted in the death of 350 million citizens.
Colorized and reprinted by Eagle Comics in 1985 as Judge Dredd issues 20 to 24.
The Apocalypse War and the lead-up story Block Mania were reprinted in a graphic novel by Titan Books: "Judge Dredd: The Complete 'Apocalypse War' Including 'Block Mania'" as a paperback (March 1995) ISBN 1-85286-404-4, 224 pages. There was also a hardback edition with a minimalist black cover.
Both stories were reprinted in "Judge Dredd: The Complete Casefiles 05" by Rebellion in 2006, and in the series "Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection" by Hachette Partworks in 2015.
- 2000 AD #1336-37
|Major Judge Dredd stories
City of the Damned