2000 AD Prog Slog

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Prog 108

Last prog, Brian Bolland draws a pin-up of Fergee where it occurs to me that the character must have been based on Australian croc botherer, Steve Irwin, all along. Then I think this can’t be the case, who would have heard of Steve Urwin in 1979?

In this prog, the second Judge Dredd mega epic, The Day The Law Died (later re-titled Judge Caligula by Titan Books) comes to an end. When I first read this story, I remember feeling that it felt more chaotic and less structured than its predecessor, The Cursed Earth. In The Cursed Earth, written predominantly by script robot Pat Mills, the objective of the story, to travel across a nuclear wasteland to Mega City Two to deliver a vaccine, was clear early on. It was then broken down into handy chunks where, for example, Judge Dredd had a fight with a dinosaur for a few weeks or Ronald MacDonald for a fortnight.

For The Day The Law Died, written by John Wagner, it was a while before we understood that Dredd was fighting against a corrupt Chief Judge. There was no explanation as to why Judge Cal went mad or how this went unnoticed by everyone else until he got the top job. There was no real foreshadowing to the explanation given to why all the other Judges followed Cal’s orders without question.

I’ve always had the impression that when Wagner writes a story, he starts with the idea, a sense of its potential but never a full outline of it. He is such a strong writer that this way or working usually works out for him where for most others, it wouldn’t. This way of writing comics explains why much of his work has a great sense of spontaneity, life and the unpredictable. But it will also explain why, occasionally, little failings in the story, like the ones I just mentioned, happen.

But this is still early days for Judge Dredd and the mega epic. John Wagner is setting the groove but is still a little way from settling into it. And despite my hair picking, The Day The Law Died compares favourably with The Cursed Earth. Like the character of Cal, the story wanders off on a tangent but it is always entertaining.

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  • I always got the impression from this that Cal had finally gone over the edge when Dredd was away on the Cursed Earth mission, so at the time it just felt "this is what we were missing back in Mega City One".

    It worked pretty well at the time, but given the knowledge we have of the Judge system now, yeah, you are right about it all being a bit unlikely.

    Still I remember loving the sheer over the top-ness of it at the time, (not realising it was based Emperor Caligula).

    By Blogger john, at 2:54 pm  

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