Prog 521 – What If… The Judges Did the Ads?

Story: What If… The Judges Did the Ads?
Appears: 2000AD Prog 521
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Brett Ewins, Ian Gibson, Robin Smith, Kevin O’Neill, Cam Kennedy
Dated: 9 May 1987

Possibly inspired by the Marvel “What If…” comics of the period this is a series of parodies of advertisements that would have been on British television at the time. Because the title prefaces the nature of the stories you know not to take it seriously. Unlike the clanger “A Real Xmas Story” from Prog 502.

If you aren’t familiar with the actual adverts themselves, which are now at least 20 years old they won’t make any sense. But if you are there is some sharp humour in here. Each of the five stories is drawn by a different artist helping to keep them separate.

Prog 514 – The Genie

Story: The Genie
Appears: 2000AD Prog 514
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Cam Kennedy
Dated: 21 March 1987

Dredd has to put up with a lot of supernatural stuff from actual hauntings to psychic powers. Many of these are incorporated cleverly into the world or at least the story they appear in. This is at best childish and at worst a bad case of orientalism. Best forgotten.

Progs 507 to 510 – The Taxidermist

Story: The Taxidermist
Appears: 2000AD Progs 507-510
Issues: 3
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Cam Kennedy
Dated: 31 January 1987 to 21 February 1987

A strong story built around a sympathetic character that has a high enough page-count to breathe and develop. There is plenty of attention to detail both in the art and narration and an unusually cheerful ending for the Big Meg.

Progs 477 to 479 – The Art of Kenny Who?

Story: The Art of Kenny Who?
Appears: 2000AD Progs 477-479
Issues: 3
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Cam Kennedy
Dated: 5 July 1986 to 19 July 1986

Is it a highbrow statement on the meaning and commercialism of art? Is it a more personal true story? Who can say but this represents one of the less disposable stories of Judge Dredd with a likeable protagonist and a relatable situation.

Progs 461 to 463 – The Falucci Tape

Story: The Falucci Tape
Appears: 2000AD Progs 461-463
Issues: 3
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Cam Kennedy
Dated: 15 March 1986 to 29 March 1986

For a kid’s comic this is a very sophisticated thriller. The three issues give it plenty of time to twist and turn and establish a plethora of layers and nuances. There is an emotional story at its core and whilst nothing in the mega-city has a happy ending this does have a certain warmth to it.

Prog 458 – The Secret Diary of Adrian Cockroach

Story: The Secret Diary of Adrian Cockroach
Appears: 2000AD Prog 458
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Cam Kennedy
Dated: 22 February 1986

This is simply a call out, although a reasonably well constructed one, to the popular books and TV series Adrian Mole that would have been around at the time. It is filler but it quirky enough not to be boring.

Progs 451 to 455 – The Warlord

Story: The Warlord
Appears: 2000AD Progs 451-455
Issues: 5
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Cam Kennedy
Dated: 4 January 1986 to 1 February 1986

Judge Dredd unleashes his latest weapon in the war on crime. Racism.

You have a villain from the Far East, possibly inspired by the Fu Manchu films of the time, but he is treated well. The stereotypical accent is reserved for the painful New York dialect of his companion. But sadly every other word out of Dredd’s mouth is oriental slurs. Gone are the creep and punk used on every other perp to date. For some reason the writers are singling out those of Asian descent for special treatment. Which really isn’t what you want in a comic aimed at children.

All the interesting talking points about the story such as pre-emptive action against terrorists that remain contemporary today are flushed away under a tide of abhorrent hate speech. Which is a shame as the story has real repercussions for the characters within the Justice Department.

Progs 440 to 441 – The Magnificent Obsession

Story: The Magnificent Obsession
Appears: 2000AD Progs 440-441
Issues: 2
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Cam Kennedy
Dated: 19 October 1985 to 26 October 1985

You need some warmth or levity in a bleak setting such as Megacity One. This is often seen in the form of the Fatties who are some of the kindest and most compassionate of the citizens.

The great thing about Dredd is that he doesn’t need to be the star of every story. The setting is so well realised that it stands strong without him, or at least with him as supporting cast. And we see a rare moment of kindness, or at least politeness from old stony-face.