Prog 291 to 294 – The Executioner

CF06Story: The Executioner
Appears: 2000AD Prog 291-294
Issues: 4
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 20 November 1982 to 11 December 1982

This modest tale is possibly one of the most flawless Dredd stories going. It’s exciting and suspenseful with a wonderfully emotional core. It is packed with little Mega-city nuances in opinion polls and in news reports. It shows you just how harsh and unpleasant it is to be a Judge and how dumb the Mega Citizens can be. There are no aliens or psychic shenanigans just honest human drama. Bravo!

Ezquerra also does a good job with some really interesting panel layouts and borders.

Prog 290 – Blobs

CF06Story: Blobs
Appears: 2000AD Prog 290
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 13 November 1982

In the city that thrives on crazes Blob is born. What could be more different than looking exactly the same as everyone else. This is a great story and if you replaced the cartoonish organised crime mob with a modern corporation it is poignantly chilling!

Ron Smith does a brilliant job as always. The design of the blobs is reminiscent of the Cabbage Patch Kids toys of the era.

Prog 289 – Rabid

CF06Story: Rabid
Appears: 2000AD Prog 289
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 6 November 1982

Robodogs run amok in a ruined sector of MC1. This tiny story has a number of the emerging themes of Judge Dredd. Nostalgia: There is a museum of 20th Century objects one of the most valuable is a Wellie Boot. The fickleness of technology: a man is killed by his own robotic guard dogs after forgetting his ID badge. Initially the dogs victims are attributed to vampires; a metaphor for how sinister and little understood technology has become.

Ron Smith does some great work. Particularly showing us the dog’s eye view of things.

Prog 281 to 288 – Destiny’s Angels

CF06Story: Destiny’s Angels
Appears: 2000AD Prog 281-288
Issues: 8
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 11 September 1982 to 30 October 1982

Following on from the re-appearance of Mayor Grubb and Otto Sump we have much loved villains the Angel Gang, Mean and Fink at least, resurrected to do battle once more. Whilst Mean has to be literally brought back from the dead, the presence of the Judge Child makes it plausible and adds another dimension to the plot.

This is a great story with characters too essential to the Dredd mythos to be absent for long. Eight Progs is enough time to tell a sophisticated tale with lots of action and excitement.

Ezquerra does a great job with characters he didn’t create and his grungy style really works for Mean and Fink.

Prog 280 – Gunge

CF06Story: Gunge
Appears: 2000AD Prog 280
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 4 September 1982

You just can’t get enough of Otto Sump and here he is again teaching us another valuable lesson about consumerism.

In just a single Prog we laugh at a cartoonish vision of our future that shows us how ignorant and stupid we are today. Poor Otto, like Uncle Ump, is too successful for his own good and the brain dead consumers cut off their nose to spite their face. The ending is sublime.

Smith does a great job of capturing the hollow advertising of the eighties and pasting it over the twenty-second century.

Prog 278 to 279 – The Game Show Show

CF06Story: The Game Show Show
Appears: 2000AD Prog 278-279
Issues: 2
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Casanovas
Dated: 21 August 1982 to 28 August 1982

This is a superb satire of the cheesy game-show that dominated television of the period. The extrapolation of such entertainment to its logical dark end was a timely warning against the cruel and exploitative reality television of today. The story is packed with in-jokes and parodies of the celebrities of the day and makes a nostalgic read for anyone who watched through that era.

Casanovas is a new name but does a sterling job with clean lines and detailed faces.

Prog 275 to 277 – Fungus

CF06Story: Fungus
Appears: 2000AD Prog 275-277
Issues: 3
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 31 July 1982 to 14 August 1982

It’s great to see the Mega-city continuity thrive and Mayor Jim Grubb gets a superb send-off. Med Judge Kildare is a wicked flash of brilliance. The motif throughout is state before individual with the chief judge lying to the citizens for their collective good. Didn’t they win against the East Meg comrade?

Ezquerra’s art is faultless for the bombed out city, destitute tramps, and strange fungus. Unfortunately the colour reproduction is printed very heavily and turns the opening pages into a grey mess.

Prog 273 to 274 – The League of Fatties

CF06Story: The League of Fatties
Appears: 2000AD Prog 273-274
Issues: 2
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 17 July 1982 to 24 July 1982

This is another prophetic glimpse into the future from the 1980’s. The rise of obesity was foretold more than 30 years ago. The Fatties’ beliwheels are much cooler than today’s mobility scooters however.

This interesting story exposes some interesting viewpoints on class, wealth, minorities, personal excess and more. The Fatties are simply stealing food to survive, much like the rosy cheeked Dickensian orphan. Dredd’s solution is quite a political one.

The art from Ron Smith is great as always opening with a cool double page spread. It is chock full of quirky layouts and subtle bleed between panels.

Prog 271 to 272 – Meka-City

CF06Story: Meka-City
Appears: 2000AD Prog 271-272
Issues: 2
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 3 July 1982 to 10 July 1982

An unassuming little story that neatly dovetails into the end of the Apocalypse War. It raises the question of what would happen to all the robots? And then ignores it in favour of a wrestling match. Whilst the combat and pre-match trash talk is evocative of the British TV wrestling of the period and the opening is superbly atmospheric in terms of devastation the story goes nowhere.

This might have been another ‘Robot War,’ looking deep into the aftermath of war on minority groups or the disenfranchised. It does have the superbly dark line from Dredd “Next time, we get our retaliation in first.” Sadly not a lot else.

Prog 245 to 267 & 269 to 270 – The Apocalypse War

CF05Story: The Apocalypse War
Appears: 2000AD Prog 245-267 & 269-270
Issues: 25
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 2 January 1982 to 26 June 1982

This is the story the phrase “tour de force” was created for. Wagner does his best work when given an infinite number of pages and carte blanche to destroy everything. This tale ran for six months and did the most damage to date to Mega City One.

As a child of the eighties this portrayal of nuclear war would scare you silly. Its depictions of destruction and death are given in uncomfortable detail and drawn straight from the prevalent government warnings of the time.

Wagner takes you through an entire war from planning and propaganda to invasion and resistance. This story has much in common with that other great story “The Day the Law Died” but loses the surrealist absurdity in favour of real horror. The radio messages from doomed outposts are particularly grim. We see Dredd leading a desperate guerrilla war once more to save his city.

This story is really dark too. Dredd goes to some bad places and we are uneasy with his choices, shooting the Chief Judge, executing collaborators, euthanizing radiation victims and nuking 500 million people with a button press. This is quite a ‘war is hell’ soapbox.

The tension throughout is great as you don’t see any way the Mega City can survive, much less win. The whole time Dredd is retreating as more and more sectors fall. It is a gripping story and the ending is superb.

Hershey and Anderson appear but only for the last few issues and not as characters but as plot devices. This afterthought is disappointing and it probably would have been better to leave them out altogether.

There is a lot of politics here; not just with a cold war allegory but the nature of regimes, the fickleness of allies, and the effectiveness of ultimate deterrents.

The whole run is drawn by Carlos Ezquerra and using a lone artist makes a huge difference. The world seems a lot more believable when seen in single style. Ezquerra’s rough art is perfect for the sense of devastation and the brutality and chaos of war.

This could be the ultimate Dredd Storyline.