Volume 5 is probably the best Judge Dredd
collection so far released, and it's also a great place to start with the series.
It starts off with "The Mega-Rackets", a long series of 2-3 part stories examining the various crimes that take place in Mega-City One, and what the Judges do about them. The stories are mostly unconnected, though there is an overarcing progression of events to them, as Wagner and Grant take a leaf from Chris Carter
's book and have character from earlier stories show up in later ones. Meanwhile, we see things like Dredd sending a man to jail who turned to crime in desperation as the only way to pay for his sick wife's treatment, while the crime boss goes free due to lack of evidence.
Immediately after that is the five-part "Judge Death Lives!", an all-action story gorgeously drawn by Brian Bolland in which Judge Death's buddies appear to revive him and slaughter Mega-City One. Anderson comes out of her coma, and this story has the famous "Gaze into the fist of Dredd!" panel.
Other notable stories include "The Hot-dog Run", in which Dredd and Giant lead a group of cadets into the Cursed Earth on a training exercise.
The bulk of this volume is devoted to the Apocalypse War, which comes in two parts. The first, "Block Mania", drawn in Mike McMahon's trademark chunky style, sees Mega-City One descend into chaos as all the citi-blocks start fighting each other in a massive battle royale, with the Judges unable to cope with such a massive outbreak. This turns out to be the work of Orlok, a Sov agent who would go on to become a recurring antagonist in the future.
However, this is but a prelude to the epic spectacle that is "The Apocalypse War". With Mega-City One in chaos, East-Meg One launches a huge nuclear strike followed by a massive ground assault. Carlos Ezquerra returns to draw all 26 parts of this epic story, which features such events as Dredd euthanising a group of refugees because they have radiation sickness and the Judges can't spare the medicine, collaborators being buries in mass graves, and finally, Dredd personally nuking East-Meg One into oblivion. Garth Ennis identified this
as one of the defining moments of his life.
(Just try not to worry about the USSR surviving into the 22nd century).