Progs 578 to 582 – Full Mental Jacket

Story: Full Mental Jacket
Appears: 2000AD Progs 578-582
Issues: 5
Writers: John Wagner
Art: Ian Gibson & Steve Parkhouse
Dated: 11 June 1988 to 09 July 1988

This is a powerful tale about youths lost in gang culture. It seems more like a cautionary tale for our own society than one more at home in the mega-city.

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.

Progs 496 to 498 – Tomb of the Judges

Story: Tomb of the Judges
Appears: 2000AD Progs 496-498
Issues: 3
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 15 November 1986 to 29 November 1986

It’s an odd mish-mash of narrative techniques and a recurring joke that does its best to act as a fourth wall break. There is inspiration from Edgar Alan Poe and Egyptian myth and a cameo from Anderson who could easily be replaced by any Psi judge. You know when the artist draws musical notes in the air any realism goes out of the window.

 The real story should begin in the last panel when a male judge is given a female body as a transplant. That would be well worth reading.

Prog 468 – It Pays To Be Mental

Story: It Pays To Be Mental
Appears: 2000AD Prog 468
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 3 May 1986

This is a great little story. Sure it could be done in any setting but the background weirdness of the mega-city is somehow a great contrast to medically approved weirdness. Definitely a fine example of British humour. And the fourth wall break is absolutely perfect.

Prog 444 – Love Story

Story: Love Story
Appears: 2000AD Prog 444
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 16 November 1985

This is a darkly comic piece that explores an entirely new style for the strip – that of romance. You know that love won’t conquer all but it is delightfully charming while it lasts.

 Gibson’s soft art style (best known for Halo Jones) is perfect for the piece. The little touches such as turning the credits box into a heart and the “Love is…” motto at the beginning are well chosen.

Prog 420 – Aftermath Ron Reagan

Story: Aftermath Ron Reagan
Appears: 2000AD Prog 420
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 1 June 1985

This is related to a Judge Anderson story that would have appeared elsewhere in 2000AD. The fact that the Dark Judges are running amok and Dredd is ordered investigate some con-artists instead is a bit of a stretch.

Prog 419 – Hagatha Smeld

Story: Hagatha Smeld
Appears: 2000AD Prog 419
Issues: 1
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Ian Gibson
Dated: 25 May 1985

This is definitely an over the top story focussing on the cartoonish side of Dredd and the absurdity of catching the criminal at all costs – even if it means re-animating the dead. Having said that this single issue tale is a mine of world-building information. It introduces the Necropolis (the rich citizen’s alternative to Resyk) and reveals a lot about the Mega City legal system. The fact it has one is a shock for a start.

Prog 393 to 406 – City of the Damned

Story: City of the Damned
Appears: 2000AD Prog 393-406
Issues: 14
Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant
Art: Brett Ewins, Ron Smith, Kim Raymond, Ian Gibson
Dated: 24 November 1984 to 23 February 1985

This is a strong mini-epic that despite digging up and beating the dead Judge Child villain is a tense and rewarding read.

The alternate/ future setting allows the writers to run riot and kill off major characters to up the stakes. Despite the citywide disaster backdrop this feels extremely personal. Anderson gets a chance to shine and behave like a real human being which is something we rarely have opportunity for in a Dredd story.

For the unique tone and creepy setting this is definitely a classic.