2000 AD Prog Slog

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Prog 288

In the early days, there was a high mortality rate in 2000 AD. If you were a new character, it was only a matter of time before you were shot in the face, pushed out of an airlock or tripped into a garbage grinder. By the prog 200s, defying death was becoming a theme. We’ve already met Judge Death twice (“how can you kill that which does not live?”) and Torquemada, in Nemesis the Warlock, who dies and is either reborn in a new body almost immediately or floats around wrath like, possessing others and causing all sorts of mayhem in their names. The important thing to note about these characters is that this death defiance is in their nature. Bringing back a character that had very obviously died, with no supernatural associations whatsoever isn’t something they did until the Judge Dredd story Destiny’s Angels, which finishes this prog.

Killing comic characters and bringing them back to life is something that isn’t uncommon in mainstream superhero comics. During the nineties, Superman’s death in battle and economics driven return to life was so high profile that, when Jack Kirby died, it led to a poor joke on an American talk show about him also returning soon. In fact, it happens so often that Captain America readers are expecting Steve Rogers to return by the end of 2008 while you could almost hear the comic fan internet sites letting out a sigh of despondency on hearing the rumour that DC plan to kill off Bruce Wayne and replace him as Bat Man with one of his Robins.

The return from the dead of Mean Machine in Destiny’s Angels isn’t a cynical attempt to increase sales to a shrinking audience, however, but an acknowledgement on the part of John Wagner and Alan Grant that they might have been premature preventing themselves from using a character as strong as this again by killing him off. Even when Judge Dredd shot Mean dead during The Judge Child Quest, it must have been hard for everyone to imagine this strip still running five years later, let alone twenty-five, despite the relative popularity of it at the time. By this prog, people are beginning to comprehend that perhaps Judge Dredd had a few more years left in it and dispensing of strong characters in a cavalier manner might not be the wisest thing to do.

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