Prog 364 – High Society

CF07Story: High Society
Appears: 364
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 14 April 1984

Another story of how the rich want to escape the proles and how the majority of citizens are delinquent scum – in space.

It’s nice to see Gibson’s caricature style once more.

Prog 359 to 363 – The Haunting of Sector House 9

CF07Story: The Haunting of Sector House 9
Appears: 359-363
Issues: 5
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Brett Ewins
Dated: 10 March 1984 to 7 April 1984

This is a fantastic story and one of my all-time favourites. Dredd rarely does horror but this is a superb execution. This was released about the time the Amityville Horror films were on VHS and Tales of the Unexpected was on TV. You can see both influences and possibly something of Richard Matheson’s Hell House too.

There are plenty of established horror tropes, such as the bleeding walls, but because they are new to Dredd they feel fresh and chilling as opposed to cliché. The reason for the horror is believable and forms a nice twist at the end.

We get to learn more about Psi Division, meet our first Sikh Judge and get another peek into how the Judge system works on a practical level. This kind of world-building is always welcome. It also helps anchor the supernatural premise and makes it believable for the reader.

The art is good with the manifestations feeling visceral and threatening. There are a couple of disembodied heads/ badges for dialogue which does break the mood somewhat but the action and horror certainly make up for it. Ewins does a great job of conveying a creeping menace in static panels. 

Prog 356 to 358 – Citizen Snork

CF07Story: Citizen Snork
Appears: 356-358
Issues: 3
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 18 February 1984 to 3 March 1984

Citizen James Snork grows his nose to epic proportions. This is an engaging tale which casts a cheeky glance at the world of crazes and our beliefs about what makes one popular. Naturally it all ends up with quite a different result once Judge Dredd gets involved.

It’s always nice when the Mega-city shows us just how strange we really are. Here we have the warnings about celebrity and talent show culture decades before our present glut of manufactured superstars.

The language and style of storytelling is actually quite poetic and Snork is not an unlikable character. The art is also perfect for the job. The grinning face of a Bruce Forsythe lookalike chat show host is particularly good.

Prog 355 – Bob’s Law

CF07Story: Bob’s Law
Appears: 355
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 11 February 1984

Here is a mirthful tale of how stupid people are in groups and how easy they are to manipulate en mass.

This is another occasion where we get to see the Justice Department isn’t just a blunt instrument. Despite their harshness you do occasionally feel sorry for them having to babysit what are basically 400 million children/ vegetables. It’s nice to see them winning for a change.

Prog 354 – Are You Tired of Being Mugged?

CF07Story: Are You Tired of Being Mugged?
Appears: 354
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 4 February 1984

An anti-mugging service appears with predictable results. This story riffs on the fear of crime in the riot laden 1980’s and spotlights the petty and destructive desires of human beings. Possibly inspired by the Guardian Angel’s brief appearance in the UK this has the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished ending of many Dredd stories. As a citizen you just can’t win.

Prog 353 – The Highwayman

CF07Story: The Highwayman
Appears: 353
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Steve Dillon
Dated: 28 January 1984

This is all action with a weird end. The concept of the Mo-pad is an interesting one and we have seen highway robbery before. What is unusual is we see not only a body hung from an overpass but the neck snapping during the event. Dredd is definitely no stranger to death and violence but this seems very out of place and quite unsettling.

Prog 350 – Pieromania

CF07Story: Pieromania
Appears: 350
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Kim Raymond
Dated: 7 January 1984

Dredd gets a custard-substitute-pie in the face on TV which starts a pie throwing trend.

This story predicts happy slapping and the viral video 30 years before they would arrive. Our desire for fads which was being commented in the 1980’s is still with us.

New artist Kim Raymond has a distinctive style with very thick black lines and quite a few missing backgrounds pointing to a very hastily completed job. Maybe a last minute replacement took place as the next two issues were reprints of Mutie the Pig from progs 34-35.

Prog 346 to 349 – Bob & Carol & Ted & Ringo

CF07Story: Bob & Carol & Ted & Ringo
Appears: 346-349
Issues: 4
Script: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ron Smith
Dated: 10 December to 31 December 1983

This appears to be a vehicle for lampooning 80’s wildlife presenter David Bellamy complete with Walter the Wobot dialogue. Here is another nice allegory showing the greed and callousness of humans, with robots and dinosaurs as the sympathetic characters. This issue predated the novel Jurassic Park by almost a decade.

Prog 343 to 345 – Rumble in the Jungle

CF07Story: Rumble in the Jungle
Appears: 343-345
Issues: 3
Script: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 19 November to 3 December 1983

What starts off as a tech-porn introduction to the new Justice Department Manta Prowl Tanks turns into a multi-page Juve rumble. There is a modest bit of world building but this is no Quadrophenia.