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2000 AD Prog Slog

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Prog 1110 02/09/98

Judge Dredd story Beyond the Call of Duty ends this prog after ten episodes, twelve if you think about the double length opener and closing. In it, Judge DeMarco from The Pit has been made Chief Judge of Sector 303. Dredd has been drafted in temporarily, on the surface as a low level street judge but actually has been tasked with reporting his operational observations back to the new chief. During this period of change, 303 is also troubled by a vigilante group who feel that the Judge system is too soft.

It’s perhaps wrong to think of this as a sequel to The Pit. Judge Dredd has evolved over the years into a more substantial strip, expanding the cast and taking the time to flesh out characters. So DeMarco has appeared a few times since her premier and this is the latest instalment in her narative. Judge Dredd is a thrill that’s had to grow, if only for the sanity of its head writer who’s been here since the start. As a character, he has had to become more flexible, more tolerant, more accepting of the idea of the world not fitting into how he thinks it should work otherwise, after twenty one years, the strip would have become very repetitive. Besides, John Wagner writes these sorts of stories so well.

One of the threads of the tale sees DeMarco make an unsuccessful pass at Dredd. The rule that prevents Judges from having physical relationships has become a theological discussion point for the two characters, although I’m not so sure that Dredd wishes to take part in it. I love this narative and I hope Wagner revisits it. It’s a great analogy not just to celibacy in the Roman Catholic priesthood but also to our expectations of people in authority in their private lives.

Dredd’s reaction to DeMarco’s advances show just how attitudes have matured in the strip. In the past he might have arrested her but, now, he walks away and tries to put the incident out of his mind, beyond the call of duty. Perhaps this is the final ending to Judge Dredd Wagner plans to write just before he retires from the character for good; Rules on physical relationships between Judges are relaxed and the lives for the citizenry in Mega City One improve simply because everyone in the judiciary is getting laid.

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