Progs 438 to 439 – The Man Who Knew Too Much

Story: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Appears: 2000AD Progs 438-439
Issues: 2
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 5 October 1985 to 12 October 1985

This is an excellent story that reminds you of the sinister side of the Justice Department. It is framed as a thriller and an excellent one at that. The double issue length really helps the story establish suspense and the break between Progs adds to the tension. It all concludes with a superbly dark ending.

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 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 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 296 to 297 – The Night of the Rad-Beast

CF06Story: The Night of the Rad-Beast
Appears: 2000AD Prog 296-297
Issues: 2
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Dated: 25 December 1982 to 1 January 1983

This is a cute little story that has little bit of Frankenstein and maybe King Kong with a sci-fi twist. Like all good monster stories you feel bad at the end.

What is unusual is after the dramatic opening we flash backwards to see origin of the story as opposed to learning how it all happened by watching Dredd solve the case.

Ezquerra continues the great work he did on Apocalypse War reprising the radiation blasted city. His monster pays homage to the proper Universal era creatures of early cinema too.

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 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 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 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.