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2000 AD Prog Slog

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Prog 182


In the latest of an occasional series of Tharg stories (which, at the moment, seem to more frequent than usual) writing droid John Howard is having his scripts rejected by the machine that measures thrill power. Howard is worried that he's lost his touch and indeed, he seems to have, as at the end of the strip, he is fit only for writing out security passes for visitors to the Command Module. This all seems contrary to the evidence of my own eyes as this prog also features the final part to The Judge Child, scripting credit to John Howard and my favourite Dredd epic so far.

The final part, which is technically an epilogue, sees Mega City One's top judges, The Council of Five, discussing if there is a future for Dredd after he upset accounts and, more importantly, failed in his twenty six-part mission to bring back the Judge Child. The strip cuts between this meeting and Dredd, himself, dealing with a block war in his typical, no nonsense but effective way. The meeting concludes with the Chief Judge exercising his power of veto and deciding to trust Dredd's judgment that the child is evil and not the saviour of the city as foretold.

The Judge Child saga contained many moments that imprinted themselves on my young mind but it is this epilogue, which I saw for the first time in a reprint years later, which surprised me the most about this story. Apart from Brian Bolland's stunning art, which has always been good but now seems to be improving at a significant rate, we see here the leaders of the city that Dredd had saved on more than one occasion questioning his ability to do his job. It serves as a reminder that, although an uncomplicated man, he lives in a world that gets more complicated and interesting by the episode.

Script robot John Wagner, AKA John Howard, AKA TB Grover, wrote this prog's Tharg story, which seems to be a confession that he feels no longer able to write Judge Dredd on his own anymore. Indeed, the final episodes of The Judge Child are co-written with Alan Grant and are the start of a writing partnership that lasts for years. I think it's interesting that when Grant wrote about his own demise via a Tharg strip his fictional self died making a heroic, albeit pointless, gesture; Wagner writes his alter ego as a burned out has been.

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6 Comments:

  • Great post Paul.

    As the progs grow, so does the Slog - genuine insight, buddy.

    By Blogger Stavros, at 4:16 am  

  • And the cover of this particular prog sums up what's great about Dredd:

    Can anyone think of a single other comic book character that could be portrayed like this and not be (at best) camp?

    By Blogger Stavros, at 4:24 am  

  • Thanks Stavros. I'm sure there are other eqully less camp examples but I can't think f any just now.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 1:06 pm  

  • That's a great cover. I can remember two characters talking together (after Dredd has ordered both blocks to surrender) and one suggests they hide (or run away). No-one will know they were involved. And the other one has a haunted look on his face and says something like: "Dredd WILL know." I loved the idea of the amount of fear that Dredd instilled in people. That just by him looking at them they'd break down and divulge even the smallest infraction.

    By Blogger Crow, at 9:43 am  

  • Crow, or even confess to stuff they haven't even done.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 12:28 pm  

  • The evolution of Mega City One by Wagner at this time is one of the true hallmarks of the strip. Dredd has evolved from what he was like in his first appearance, but by now, his template is kinda down. MC1's evolution with its myriad strange and wonderful characters is not to be underestimated in the enjoyment of the strip over the next few years.

    By Blogger dmstarz, at 8:33 pm  

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