Prog 26 – Dream Palace

Dredd BadgeStory: Dream Palace
Appears: 2000AD Prog 26
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner
Art: Mike McMahon
Dated: 20 August 1977

Plot: A man goes on a mass killing spree after planning it in artificial dreams.

Verdict: An enjoyable tale. We learn more about Mega City One which has 800 million people. We get some good Sci-fi ideas with machines to generate artificial dreams. We also get some thoughts on the culture of the 70’s. The Mega City citizens only work 2 hours a day is a nice throwback to the three day week in Britain under the Conservative Party. Or am I reading too much into it?

The art is fine but again with more straight edges than we are used to. We see a Justice Day parade where the flags flown seem to be a variant of America’s current Stars and Stripes.

Once again the criminal is killed as a result of his own actions, by a falling sword from a statue – the Sword of Justice.

Prog 25 – You Bet Your Life

Dredd BadgeStory: You Bet Your Life
Appears: 2000AD Prog 25
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 13 August 1977

Plot: An illegal gameshow sees people wagering their own and their family’s lives to win big money.

Verdict: A nice dose of black humour and poke at the plethora of cheap TV shows of the period as well as a sly Bruce Forsythe impression. Plus a close to the knuckle observation about greed and human nature. Inspired by the pirate radio boom of the time possibly.

Dredd gets a comedy sidekick as he is forced to take Walter with him to help him track the pirate TV broadcasts. A buddy movie in five pages. But surely Dredd has to wonder about having a robot servant who not only watches illegal broadcasts but whose favourite program is one where real humans are killed. I’d get rid of him sharpish. But Dredd doesn’t even give him a warning.

The art is well defined with plenty of detail and the characters have a distinctive look about them but there are more straight edges and panel borders than we are used to. It all comes together well though.

Prog 24 – The Wreath Murders

Dredd BadgeStory: The Wreath Murders
Appears: 2000AD Prog 24
Issues: 1
Writers: Malcolm Shaw
Art: Mike McMahon
Dated: 06 August 1977

Plot: Two criminals impersonate ambulance crew in order to rob and murder undetected.

Verdict: It is a nice little idea but with only five pages you don’t get any time for suspense and mystery before the reveal. The criminals come to a typical Dredd sticky end as one accidentally kills his partner and the remaining one tries to shoot Dredd with his own gun. Which reveals the fact that Lawgivers are coded to their owner and self-destruct when used by others.

We meet M.A.C. the Judges’ central computer who functions like the computer in the Bat-cave filling in any plot holes and speeding up the story.

The art is fine with some good poses and great attempts to bring depth to the page but isn’t as crisp as we have seen before. The last page is covered in some kind of grey wash and looks terrible. Which is because that this page was originally in colour (the last page seems an odd choice) and hasn’t translated to black and white well at all. We also see the outside of Justice HQ which looks like a precarious profiterole stack.

Nice ideas but could have done with more space.

Prog 23 – Smoker’s Crime

Prog 23Story: Smoker’s Crime
Appears: 2000AD Prog 23
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner
Art: Mike McMahon
Dated: 30 July 1977

Plot: Dredd Catches bank robbers though a cigar butt.

Verdict: It’s ok. I am guessing that there was an anti-smoking vibe going on and just as Superman had Nick O Teen then Dredd had to do his part too. Although it might be just so he can deliver the line “Now you know too late that smoking can damage your health,” after he has just killed someone. Speaking of clunky dialogue, “old-time space astronaut helmets” anyone?

We see the Smokatorium for the first time and it turns out Dredd has a beat. He actually puts up signs too. Who would have thought it? The police are still part of mega-city life and they even have a bank squad.

My First Quarter in the Megacity

Well Robot War changed everything. John Wagner taking the reins of his creation and showing us what a multipart story with a great hook and brilliant execution can do really cranked it up a gear.

This upped the bar for the subsequent stories and new writers and artists coming on board produced better dialogue and more polished work. Despite the occasional clanger. A familiar supporting cast was introduced such as Maria, Walter and Max Normal. The template was firmly established from its dynamic layouts and visual style to its social commentary and healthy dose of poetic justice.

The police were still around although America was mentioned less and less. Innovations such as Atmosphere Control, Riot Foam, the Smokatorium, and new bullets for the lawgiver kept coming thick and fast.

Prog 22 – Mr Buzzz

Prog 22Story: Mr Buzzz
Appears: 2000AD Prog 22
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 23 July 1977

Plot: Dredd chases down a mutant.

Verdict: Terrible. You wouldn’t think this was a Wagner story. There are some good moments when Dreed gets a perp to spill the beans in return for reducing his sentence. He reduces the 40 year sentence by one day. Then Dredd burns down an entire building to flush out a criminal saying “the city will pay.” A bit too cartoonish.

The art is also heavy handed lacking the fine lines and detailed hatching of previous artists and going for the thick black marker look.

The first mention of jail cells being called isolation cubes.