Prog 601 – Eldster Vigilante Mud-Wrestling Ninjas

Story: Eldster Vigilante Mud-Wrestling Ninjas
Appears: 2000AD Prog 601
Issues: 1
Writers: Alan Grant
Art: Vanyo
Dated: 19 November 1988

Is it a statement about contemporary crimes against the elderly?
Or just an excuse to make simplistic jokes about the hard of hearing?
You do wonder what could have been done with a few more issues though.

Prog 600 – The Power of the Gods

Story: The Power of the Gods
Appears: 2000AD Prog 600
Issues: 1
Writers: Alan Grant
Art: Glenn Fabry
Dated: 29 October 1988

It’s not a new idea but testament to the setting that Dredd is flexible enough to handle a story that is solely humorous. It is in the vein of Genie (Prog 514) or Navel Manoeuvres (Prog 516) and is easy to brush out of the Dredd canon. You can see more than a touch of Douglas Adams in the Alan Grant written story. 

Prog 599 – The Further Adventures of PJ Maybe, Age 14

Story: The Further Adventures of PJ Maybe, Age 14
Appears: 2000AD Prog 599
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner
Art: Liam Sharp
Dated: 29 October 1988
By this stage we are getting quite attached to young PJ Maybe despite him being a terrible murderous psychopath. As his current victims are reasonably unlikable we don’t mind his terrible actions. He and his family do have a noticeable character arc. Contrast this with someone like Otto Sump who did but is now just a delivery vehicle for joke of the week.

It is great to see Liam Sharp the sole artist on all the stories. As he is a rare name in Dredd art this helps preserve the thrill of each new story.  

Prog 598 – Worms

Story: Worms
Appears: 2000AD Prog 598
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner
Art: Chris Weston
Dated: 29 October 1988

This could be an interesting filler about a juvenile delinquent narrating his crimes in the first person. Where it not for the fact that we now have the vastly superior PJ Maybe. In fact putting it right up against a PJ Maybe story was a terrible idea.

A visit to a garbage disposal plant where everything is brown isn’t the greatest use of the new full colour strips and there are a couple of blank or mono-colour backgrounds too.

Prog 595 – Strange Customs

Story: Strange Customs
Appears: 2000AD Prog 595
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner
Art: Will Simpson
Dated: 8 October 1988

It’s not a riveting action spectacular but it does add another piece to the procedural background of Dredd.

It is odd seeing Dredd in colour but the biological nature of the story certainly comes alive with all the pink and red.

Progs 592 to 594 – What I Did During the Summer Holidays By PJ Maybe, Age 13

Story: What I Did During the Summer Holidays By PJ Maybe, Age 13
Appears: 2000AD Progs 592-594
Issues: 3
Writers: John Wagner
Art: Liam Sharp
Dated: 17 September 1988 to 1 October 1988

We have been waiting to PJ to return for some time and he does not disappoint. This is a very British use of black humour. The teenage narration, both in words and lettering style really sets the tone and you can see the homage to Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole very clearly.

The fact the story is now in full colour also adds a youthful dimension to things. Whilst the departure of the grim black and white style with its oppressive blacks is very much missed the use of colour in this story does add to the tone of the piece.

Not only does PJ return but we see a well-chosen cameo by taxidermist Mr Sardini.

Progs 588 to 591 – Twister

Story: Twister
Appears: 2000AD Progs 588-591
Issues: 4
Writers: John Wagner
Art: John Ridgeway
Dated: 20 August 1988 to 10 September 1988

Well it looks like Oz is the new Apocalypse War – in that it is the story that keeps on giving. It seems that The Wizard of Oz wasn’t literal enough a joke so now they send Dredd to the land of the munchkins. Pretty much literally.

You know that it isn’t real and you can see it coming a mile off but you for some reason you don’t mind. You cheerfully put up with the very predictable storyline because had a certain charm, a certain magic to it.

The key to its success, just like the Hollywood film, is the technicolour. From the second part, where Dredd arrives in storybook Oz, all Judge Dredd stories were printed in colour. Saving this printing transition for this moment is a stroke of genius. The fact the rest of the adventure stays in colour must have been a real eye-opener for readers. Switching to black and white for the last two pages when Dredd arrives back in the real world is a brilliant touch.