Prog 331 to 334 – Requiem for a Heavyweight

CF07Story: Requiem for a Heavyweight
Appears: 331-334
Issues: 4
Script: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 27 August to 17 September 1983

It’s great to see the fatties back in their own version of Rocky. The Heavyweight Eating Championships of the World provide a backdrop for a really touching tale. There is a good opening to hook you into reading and the Judges aren’t the stars this time.

Ezquerra does a great job with the fatties. Their rolls of flab and undulating gullets make you feel really queasy.

Prog 329 to 330 – The Weather Man

CF07Story: The Weather Man
Appears: 329-330
Issues: 2
Script: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 13 August to 20 August 1983

Carl Heinz Pilchards-in-Tomato-Sauce Clayderman stages a concert involving weather that kills the audience. That name alone should tell you everything about this story. I’m not sure if there was originally a message about modern art or if it is just bizarre filler.

Prog 322 to 328 – Cry of the Werewolf

CF07Cry of the Werewolf
Appears: 322-328
Issues: 7
Script: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Steve Dillon
Dated: 25 June to 6 August 1983

This is an awesome story. Once again we see Dredd on his own battling for his life and it’s not clear how or if he will make it. The werewolves are a credible threat and supply a good deal of relatable menace. We see Dredd ready to sacrifice himself for his city without a second thought.

We also visit the Undercity that we haven’t seen since the Troggies. We learn that Judges take the long walk down there as well as the Cursed Earth. This popular location is anchored in old New York with Times Square, Broadway and Central Park. The posters for films Rocky 37 Mad Max 25 are unfortunately anachronistic.

Dillon does a good job on the art with a nice touch to the action scenes. All his Judges look like Dredd however and if you don’t see their badges you can get confused as to who is who. His werewolves are great. Very bestial with inhuman eyes.

Prog 319 to 321 – Condo

CF06Story: Condo
Appears: 2000AD Prog 319-321
Issues: 3
Script: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 4 June 1983 to 18 June 1983

Getting Dredd off his home turf and into the danger of space is a very dramatic choice. This is part thriller and part disaster movie and definitely holds your attention. Unfortunately the reveal at the end without any form of detective work feels far too flimsy.

Even with such a short page-count the choice to use full page panels to convey the epic scope of the disaster is a brilliant one.

Prog 316 to 318 – The Stupid Gun

CF06Story: The Stupid Gun
Appears: 2000AD Prog 316-318
Issues: 3
Script: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 15 May 1983 to 21 May 1983

This is a brilliant tale and not least in its innovative telling. It begins with a juve and his internal monologue. But you quickly realise he is actually recording a video. This predates the YouTube generation by decades but predicts it wonderfully.

The device of the Stupid Gun, the descent of poor Eck into crime and the way criminals have a knack of perverting anything new to their ends are all fantastic ideas superbly delivered. The Runaway train adds a climactic final act too.

Ron Smith’s art is superb as his exaggerated faces are perfect for the moronic victims of the Stupid Gun. His rendering of the Mega-city combines futurist, gothic and art deco to create a wonderfully characterful landscape.

Prog 309 to 314 – The Starborn Thing

CF06Story: The Starborn Thing
Appears: 2000AD Prog 309-314
Issues: 6
Script: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 26 March 1983 to 30 April 1983

A Lovecraftian tale, heavily influenced by Alien and set in the Wild West of the Cursed Earth. How could this not be a great story?

With several issues to slowly build suspense and malevolence you really get drawn into the peril of the situation. As the threat comes from an unknown alien literally anything can happen making the outcome uncertain. A high judge bodycount ups the stakes too.

The terrifying part is when Dredd is possessed by the creature forcing him to kill innocent judges. Committing any crime is an anathema to Dredd and being totally out of control is a really frightening prospect. This is his worst nightmare.

Ezquerra is in his element with the Cursed Earth, muties and alien life forms. This is very much his forte.

Prog 308 – The Prankster

CF06Story: The Prankster
Appears: 2000AD Prog 308
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 19 March 1983

Is this the Mega-city equivalent of The Joker? Well in one issue we don’t get to explore what is certainly an unusually motivated Dredd antagonist.

Ezquerra does his best but there are an awful lot of panels per page meaning everything feels messy and cluttered.

Prog 305 to 307 – Trapper Hag

CF06Story: Trapper Hag
Appears: 2000AD Prog 305-307
Issues: 3
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Steve Dillon
Dated: 26 February 1983 – 12 March 1983

This is a three issue punch-up with an alien bounty hunter that is really rather good. Having superior technology the alien usually has the upper hand making it an exciting read. Like all the best stories Dredd thinks his way to victory.

Dillon does some great work and uses large blocks of black and white to make a real visual impact as well as creating the archetypal Dredd chin.

Prog 304 – Prezzel Logic

CF06Story: Prezzel Logic
Appears: 2000AD Prog 304
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 19 February 1983

Another monthly meeting of the criminal fraternity sees various schemes to get rid of Dredd. It’s nice seeing the schemes they come up with – from burying him in confessions, to trying to get him to commit a crime himself. Dredd must equally think outside the box when coming up with a plan to arrest them.