Prog 224 to 228 – Judge Death Lives

CF05Story: Judge Death Lives
Appears: 2000AD Prog 224-228
Issues: 5
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Brian Bolland
Dated: 8 August 1981 to 5 September 1981

A double whammy in the return of both the Dark Judges and Anderson. The Dark Judges represent a tangible threat to Dredd and the Mega-city unlike the regular criminals that pop up most weeks. Anderson is also a great foil for Dredd by being his emotional opposite.

This story sees the mythos expanded as we journey to the Dark Judge’s homeworld. Like the last encounter there is a satisfying and credible conclusion to this latest chapter.

Bolland does a superb job and is the perfect artist for this story. His mastery of contorted, terror-filled expressions is perfect and brings a real sense of action to the page. There is a wonderful double page spread of all the Dark Judges too.

This also contains one of the most famous quotes of Dredd history: “gaze into the fist of Dredd.”

Prog 209 to 223 – The Mega-Rackets

CF05Story: The Mega-Rackets
Appears: 2000AD Prog 209-223
Issues: 15
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Colin Wilson, Ron Smith, Ian Gibson, Barry Mitchell
Dated: 25 April 1981 to 1 August 1981

This is a collection of stories, each focussing on a different form of organised crime. It does a great job enriching Mega-city culture and accomplishes some great world-building. Many of the stories are cool sci-fi ideas that show you criminals of the future are just as devious as those of today.

It is nice to revisit previous themes and characters; Uncle Ump, Psi-division and face changing machines all make another appearance.

Prog 208 – The Problem with Sonny Bono

CF05Story: The Problem with Sonny Bono
Appears: 2000AD Prog 208
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 18 April 1981

This is one of those stories that balances entertainment with social commentary so wonderfully that neither dominates your enjoyment. There isn’t a black and white enemy or criminal you can point at and boo. Rather, this lifts up the rock of society and lets you see the grime underneath. The lovely lines and clever shading of Gibson do a great job to illustrate the point.

Prog 206 to 207 – Unamerican Graffiti

CF04Story: Unamerican Graffiti
Appears: 2000AD Prog 206-207
Issues: 2
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 4 March 1981 to 11 March 1981

Here is a brilliant story. Not just because it is an entertaining read, or because it introduces us to Marlon Shakespeare who will go on to become one of Mega City’s great personalities. This holds up a crystal clear mirror to the politics of the day. The explosion of graffiti art in New York, the rise in unemployment under the Thatcher government and the increase in perceived juvenile delinquency in the 1970’s.

Marlon’s bleak future was, and still is, a real prospect for much of Britain’s youth. His closing statement “Is that what people are? Are we robots too?” is a sociologist’s wet dream. His parents with their incomprehensible interests are far removed from his generation and his sense of isolation and despair at the system around him is superbly portrayed.

The art is great and the start of the story is a double page wall of graffiti with the tags all references stories of the previous year or two with one pointing to the next Prog. The continuity is also well served with the Statue of Judgement reappearing and a genius debut of the White Cliff of Dover.

Prog 205 – Alone in a Crowd

CF04Story: Alone in a Crowd
Appears: 2000AD Prog 205
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Steve Dillon
Dated: 28 March 1981

This is a wonderful story that says so much about our society, both that of the 80’s and thirty years on. There are many variations on the saying “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Here we see that premise in action with citizens hoping others will be the victims of crime so that they may be spared. The rest of the story is bland action strip but this poignant message really resonates.

Prog 204 – The Alien Way

CF04Story: The Alien Way
Appears: 2000AD Prog 204
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 21 March 1981

Dredd is tasked with showing an alien journalist around the Mega-city and told to be a bit more civil, what could possibly go wrong? The brevity of the story means there is no time to do anything interesting although the alien’s hyperbolic scribblings are quite amusing. You can guess how it ends.

Funny aliens, like talking animals, are a bit of a mixed bag. They tend to blunt the sci-fi edge that Dredd has when just played for laughs as they are here. Off planet or with a purpose, like the Kleggs, they can make a positive contribution but in this case, not so much.

Prog 203 – Who Killed Pug Ugly?

CF04Story: Who Killed Pug Ugly?
Appears: 2000AD Prog 203
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 14 March 1981

An interesting case and a clever twist at the end. Really captures the feel of the bizarre Mega-city and its underground culture. Great use of language and imaginatively invented vocabulary. Otto Sump makes a fleeting appearance too.