Mega-City Law: The Day the Law Died – Betwayal! (Complete Case Files Volume 2 Prog 105)

2017-01-31 (1)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: THE DAY THE LAW DIED – BETWAYAL! (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 2 PROG 105)

 

The episode title of course refers to betrayal, invoking Walter’s robotic speech impediment – but it is a staged betrayal as part of Judge Dredd’s plan, designed to appeal to Chief Judge Cal’s insane vanity. Cal is poised to destroy Walter (with an axe!) when Walter proceeds to badmouth Dredd, starting by referring to “that cweep Judge Dwedd!”

 

One might have imagined that this ploy is incredibly transparent – particularly as Judge Giant already used a variant of it to save Dredd from execution – but it seems that Cal’s weakness for flattery and sycophancy is beyond limit, particularly when it comes to badmouthing Dredd. Perhaps a reputation for robotic honesty helps as well. And so, Cal buys it – appointing Walter as a judge on the spot, falling somewhere on the scale of his judicial appointments between Deputy Judge Grampus and Deputy Judge Fish.

 

However, Dredd’s plan only succeeds because of a huge element of luck – Cal’s loyal lieutenant Judge Slocum is so flummoxed that Cal falls for the transparent ploy that he forgets his own characteristic flattery and sycophancy. “You’re crazy, Chief Judge! The whole city knows that robot is sickeningly loyal to Dredd!”

 

After explaining that as the strength of his plan for Walter to denounce Dredd, Cal notes Slocum’s verbal slip of calling the Chief Judge crazy. Slocum tries to backpedal, explaining it as a symptom of his “worry” for the Chief Judge. Cal ominously notes that they’ll have to do something about those “worry lines” and “wrinkles” on Slocum’s face – “I shall give the matter some consideration”. Yeah – Slocum’s days are numbered. The element of luck for Dredd’s plan is twofold – not only did Slocum undermine his (correct) caution about Walter with his incautious language of calling Cal crazy, but Cal’s response is perfectly designed and timed to stop Slocum redeeming himself by exposing Dredd’s plan, as we will see.

 

Over the next three days, Walter denounces Dredd in media appearances. Incredibly, some of the fickle Mega-City One citizenry are depicted as buying it. Really? After all that Cal has done? And by something so easily staged – particularly given that Cal could have just re-programmed Walter to denounce Dredd. Of course, Walter is a unique robot citizen, but Cal is not otherwise concerned with citizen rights. O well – many, if not most, of Mega-City One’s citizens ARE of notoriously limited intellectual capacity.

 

However, Slocum comes close to exposing Walter’s part in Dredd’s plan when he discovers Walter stealing one of Cal’s daily crime briefing tapes to take back to Dredd. Unfortunately for Slocum, Cal’s response comes just as he escorts Walter to Cal – “Ah, Slocum. I was just going to send for you…”

 

At Cal’s direction, a doctor “gives Slocum an injection for those worry wrinkles”. Slocum attempts to shrug off the cure to inform Cal of Walter’s treachery – “Sir, forget the miracle cures! I’ve got some hot information!”

 

Cal responds that the injection isn’t the cure, but a “simple paralyzing agent” – very timely for Dredd’s plan, as it paralyzes Slocum’s movement, and more fundamentally, speech. The “cure” is characteristic of Cal – after fixing Slocum’s face in a paralyzed rictus, literally pickling him in a giant jar to “preserve” him. O Cal, you so crazy!

 

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By further stroke of luck, Cal asks Judge Walter to return the tape, dropped from Slocum’s paralyzed grip, to the briefing room.

 

TO BE CONTINUED – FROM OUT OF THE SEWERS

Mega-City Law: The Day the Law Died – Splat! (Complete Case Files Volume 2 – Prog 104)

2017-01-30

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: THE DAY THE LAW DIED – SPLAT! (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 2 – PROG 104)

 

Judge Dredd and Fergee literally get the jump on the alien Kleggs billeted in Dredd’s apartment – and what a pleasure it is to see debut art by Ron Smith, who perhaps rivals Brian Bolland as the classic Dredd artist.

 

One Klegg manages to grunt “Dredd! But he dead!” in surprise and one can well sympathize with the Klegg, given how many near-death misses Dredd has had in this epic. Unfortunately for the Kleggs, Dredd is very much alive and they are all soon very much dead, dispatched either by Dredd’s gun or Fergee’s bat. The latter speaks volumes for Fergee’s badassery (or is that bat-assery?) – that he is able to take on the feared Kleggs with only a bat and win. If anything, he seems to enjoy the violence more than is perhaps healthy, with his catchphrase of “getting heavy” and war-cry of “Easy the Ferg!” (not to mention the splat of the episode’s title). Indeed, Fergee is keen to take on more Kleggs, but Dredd reminds him that they came for Dredd’s robot, Walter.

 

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That is because Walter has an instrumental part to play in Dredd’s plan to infiltrate the Hall of Justice – by ‘betraying’ Dredd. Dredd has Walter call Cal’s Judges to inform them that Dredd is alive and again in the city – then Dredd ensures that the intercepting team of Judges see him (and Fergee) escape in their stolen patrol wagon. The Judges pursue them until Dredd and Fergee abandon the vehicle to return to the Under-City – “the rest is up to Walter”.

 

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Meanwhile, Chief Judge Cal is administering his characteristic brand of justice in the Hall of Justice – sentencing traffic violation offenders to death. “Death for speeding! Please, Chief Judge, have mercy! These hands can still be useful to you!” cries the unfortunate offender. Hmmm, unfortunate phrasing – I think you can see where there is going. “Fortune has smiled on you, lawbreaker. Your wish is granted” Cal pronounces magnanimously – “Keep the hands! Dispose of the rest!”

 

Cal soon loses all of his composure when he receives the report that Dredd is still alive – and just as his historical predecessor Caligula perceived his own divinity, Cal cries out to deceased former Chief Judges. “Is there no way to rid myself of this man? You’ve got to help me! Show me a sign!”

 

Well, perhaps not a sign, but one of his present Judges does show him Walter, “the robot who reported” Dredd. That’s good enough for Cal, who demands an axe to take out his rage on the robot – “If I can’t have Dredd, I can at least vent my anger on this thing!”. It’s not looking good for Walter – or Dredd’s plan – as Cal stands poised to strike Walter down with the axe…

 

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TO BE CONTINUED – BETWAYAL!

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Anime: (1) Sailor Moon

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FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME: (1) SAILOR MOON

 

“I am the sailor suited Pretty Guardian who fights for love and for justice — I am Sailor Moon! In the name of the moon, I’ll punish you!”

 

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There could only be one girl for the top spot in my top ten girls of anime – the titular protagonist of the Sailor Moon anime franchise. The franchise and its protagonist are each one of the most famous beyond Japan or anime fandom. In the words of TV Tropes, “to this day, Sailor Moon remains one of the most recognized and mainstream anime titles in North America. If you approach anyone on the street and ask them to name a Japanese anime, Sailor Moon will almost certainly be one of the natural responses”.

 

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And as for its protagonist, most, if not all, of my top ten girls of anime are not widely known beyond anime fandom – except for Sailor Moon, even if, like myself, those who know of her are not overly familiar with her role within her franchise itself. She also popularized the magical girl genre of anime and remains the most famous magical girl outside (and inside) Japan.

 

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Created by pharmacist-turned-manga-author Naoko Takeuchi, Usagi Tsukino is a schoolgirl (albeit perhaps the blondest Japanese schoolgirl), whose life takes a turn for the unexpected when she discovers that she is the reincarnation of an ancient lunar warrior from the Moon Kingdom.

 

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With the aid of a feline mentor called Luna, Usagi must take up the mission of defending the Earth from the various evils that threaten it while searching for the reincarnation of the Moon Kingdom’s princess (and ultimately destined to become neo-Queen Serenity). Usagi grows into her role as the magical girl Sailor Moon and greatly matures as a result, gathering a team of four other reincarnated warriors and realizing her true potential as a cosmic superhero. The anime series itself mostly follows a Monster of the Week format, with subsequent series introducing escalating foes and matching power-ups, and greatly expanding the mythos behind Usagi’s past life in the Moon Kingdom and her fated future in the utopian Crystal Tokyo.

 

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Her iconic status is enhanced by the distinctive visual appearance of Usagi’s Sailor Guardian or Soldier identity, “Sailor Moon”. Throughout most the series, Sailor Moon wears a white and blue sailor fuku uniform, white and red gloves, red boots and crescent-moon earrings. And above all, there is her hair – o my goddess! Her hair! – her distinctive buns (odango) in their red hairpieces and those impossibly long tails. However, I have preferred fan art adaptations to her classic anime or manga style throughout this feature.

 

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Indeed, there is some impressive fan art adaptations in different styles altogether.

 

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Her top ranking is further secured as part of a team of cosmic magical girls – Sailors Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter – which evoke the style of a K-pop group. (Sailor Venus sometimes resembles Sailor Moon in art, but for the distinctive hair style and coloring).

 

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And they are just one of many Amazon Brigades in a larger cast that could easily support its own top ten list.

 

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And of course Sailor Moon’s distinctive visual appearance readily lends itself to cosplay.

 

Juliana Pereira - Sailor Moon

Juliana Pereira – Sailor Moon

Mega-City Law: The Day the Law Died – Trapped! (Complete Case Files Volume 2 – Prog 103)

2017-01-26

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: THE DAY THE LAW DIED – TRAPPED! (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 2 – PROG 103)

 

Judge Dredd and Fergee have emerged from the Under-City into Mega-City One – but unfortunately the curfew is in effect and they are apprehended by a patrol wagon. Fergee’s natural response is to “get heavy with them” but Dredd knows the better response to the pat wagon’s firepower is to run. Even more unfortunately, however, they run into a dead-end and are trapped.

 

Dredd sees a ruse – he is a judge in a judge’s uniform after all, so he simply impersonates a regular judge apprehending Fergee as curfew-breaker. He just keeps his badge hidden until he and Fergee get within striking distance of the judges of the patrol wagon (although Fergee has a few conceptual problems with the finer details of the plan, until it’s time to “get heavy”).

 

Which is ironic as one of the reasons Dredd gave in the previous episode for using Fergee (apart from Fergee’s knowledge of the route to the surface) was that nobody would recognize Fergee. Perhaps, but the hulking brute isn’t exactly inconspicuous either – indeed, he sticks out like a sore thumb even amongst regular citizens. Whereas Dredd and his rebel judges in their uniforms blend in perfectly with other judges – all they have to do is change their badges. So one might think that a better plan would have been for Dredd and his rebel judges to ambush some regular judges and take their badges. Even more so as Dredd pins one of the patrol wagon judges’ badges to Fergee and nominates him an honorary judge (much to his amusement), so that he is even less inconspicuous now. One suspects that the continued presence of Fergee in Dredd’s plans is something of a plot contrivance to keep him around for his ultimate purpose – just like how Gollum or Smeagol keeps popping up (and is not killed) in The Lord of the Rings.

 

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Anyway, Dredd and Fergee use the conveniently captured vehicle to seek out the only reliable source of help in the surface city – Dredd’s robot, Walter, in Dredd’s former apartment. Unfortunately, Cal has billeted some of the alien Klegg mercenaries in that apartment, with Walter serving them – and for all their reputation as feared galactic mercenaries, they simply abuse Walter like school bullies, teasing Walter by threatening to burn Dredd’s law books and so on. So once again, it’s time for Dredd and Fergee to get heavy…

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED – SPLAT!

Mega-City Law: The Day the Law Died – Fergee’s Place (Complete Case Files Volume 2 – Prog 102)

2017-01-25 (4)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: THE DAY THE LAW DIES – FERGEE’S PLACE (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 2 – PROG 102)

 

Welcome to the Under-City!

 

Well, it’s a more warm welcome than previously (crashing through into it), as the “amiable brute” Fergee leads Judge Dredd and the four other judges to his ‘place’ through the Under-City and its mutated denizens – “inhabited only by the rats and the strange half-men, fugitives from the city above” as Dredd observes. Dredd’s remark is a little restrictive – subsequent episodes will reveal that the Under-City has more mutated weirdness than that, albeit not quite so much as the Cursed Earth. Werewolves, for example. Although Dredd and his fellow judges are about to become acquainted with rats first-hand as the meal offered to them by Fergee.

 

Once inside his place – an old mechanical body shop – Fergee tells the Judges that he too once lived in Mega-City One, but sought refuge in the Under-City because he did “lotsa bad things”. “Fergee like doing bad things. Fergee pretty heavy guy!” In fairness, Fergee would seem to be with a fish out of water in twenty-second century Mega-City One, given his lack of intellect combined with his brute physical size and strength. Born in the wrong century, as they say – to quote Sin City, “He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. He would’ve been right at home on some ancient battlefield, swinging an axe into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman arena taking a sword to other gladiators like him”. And also in fairness, short of travelling back in time, Fergee has achieved the ideal solution to his situation – by moving to the Under-City, crowning himself King of the Big Smelly (not unlike a latter-day barbarian hero).

 

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Anyway, the judges soon set to talking about their dire situation – only five of them left against the whole Mega-City judge force. That prompts Dredd to muse exactly why the Mega-City judges are following Chief Judge Cal’s insane orders – “Those judges are good men – they loved the law – and yet they obey that madman Cal like they were hypnotized”. And of course that’s it, as Judge Giant surmises – Judge Cal prepared the subliminal daily crime briefings for the judge force and programmed them for hypnotic obedience to him. It all fits – the Academy of Law tutors didn’t attend the briefings, Dredd was in the Cursed Earth and Giant was on a “month’s leave”. Wait – Mega-City judges have leave?! What do they do with it? That…doesn’t really feature in other story-lines. Despite that story-line quibble, it certainly shows Cal to be a cut above his historical predecessor Caligula – and to demonstrate cunning or intelligence quite apart from his growing insanity.

 

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Of course, that line of surmise about Cal’s method of controlling the Mega-City judge force would have been a whole lot more useful BEFORE the ‘resistance’ was reduced to five judges and literally driven underground. Still, better late than never – and Giant asks the obvious question, what are they going to do about it? Dredd’s reply is laconic – “Easy…we break into Justice HQ and use Cal’s own tapes against him. And we do it with the help of our new friend”.

 

Easier said than done, as Fergee leads Dredd back to the surface and they are rumbled by a patrol wagon…

 

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TO BE CONTINUED – TRAPPED!

Mega-City Law: The Day the Law Died – The Law & the Loony (Complete Case Files Volume 2 – Prog 101)

2017-01-24

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: THE DAY THE LAW DIED – THE LAW & THE LOONY (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 2 – PROG 101)

 

Will the real Judge Dredd please stand up?

 

The episode title refers to the brawl between Judge Dredd and Fergee in the Under-City, but the episode itself opens with Chief Judge Cal’s casting the role of his antagonist Dredd for his upcoming propaganda film (once again by one of my favorite 2000 AD artists, Brian Bolland).

 

Naturally, Cal looks at, ah, less than physically imposing specimens for the role of his adversary, albeit perhaps in manner more characteristic of his historical predecessor Caligula rather than that one would hope for the twenty-second century. Indeed, language and society have moved on from the date of publication, at least in the use of the term ‘midget’. (And one imagines Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage, for example, would kick ass in the persona of Dredd, despite the lack of similarity in appearance). For that matter, I’m not so sure what’s quite so ‘abnormal’ (for Cal’s purposes) about the first two candidates, although they certainly lack Dredd’s characteristic appearance. Sure, the first candidate is fat, but not unusually so in the contemporary United States – let alone in twenty-second century Mega-City One, where there are proud ‘fatties’ weighing a literal ton or so competing in eating competitions. (In fairness, that was a subsequent narrative development to the present epic, presumably as satire to obesity in contemporary society). And sure, the second candidate is tall and gangly, but not more so than a basketball player. Both seem to be without intellectual deficiency, as they both look taken aback when Cal declares that they are to be put down – “The midget will do. Have the others put down, Slocum!”

 

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As for himself, Cal has also naturally chosen Conred Conn, a ‘vid-pic’ star reputed to be the handsomest man in the world. Conn has retired from films, but that’s nothing that Cal’s characteristic persuasion can’t fix – “Don’t damage this head when you remove it”. Although…actually Cal seems to be of quite attractive appearance, an idealized version (albeit depending on artist) of John Hurt’s portrayal of Caligula in the television series I, Claudius. The historical Caligula was reputed to be of quite unattractive appearance, which of course was reflected in his imperial whims – the death penalty for references to goats in his presence (due to being mocked as one for his bald head and hairy body) or punishing handsome men by brutally shaving their heads.

 

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Meanwhile, the real Judge Dredd squares off against Fergee, the hulking musclebound brawler (and far cry from Rob Schneider) who dominates the Under-City by force of strength and the swing of his bat. “Strike one to Fergee!” – but Dredd, with his years of combat training and experience, slips in under the next swing and punches Fergee into the polluted Ohio River. Fergee is physically unaffected, but proves to be of simple good nature (constantly laughing at his own or other’s jokes – even Dredd cracks some one-liners). Moreover, as the trope goes, ass-kicking equals authority – Dredd having now earned Fergee’s respect and proclaimed friendship. And given that the resistance is now down to five renegade judges – which would seem to be more a social club than a resistance – Dredd will take whatever friendship he can get.

 

TO BE CONTINUED – FERGEE’S PLACE

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Anime: (2) Motoko Kusanagi – Ghost in the Shell (1995)

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FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME: (2) MOTOKO KUSANAGI – GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995)

Motoko Kusanagi, or more precisely, Major Motoko Kusanagi (or just the Major), is the focal character of the Ghost in the Shell manga and anime franchise – a franchise that, particularly with the original 1995 film (adapted from the manga), “all but defined Western conceptions of anime for the better part of a decade”. (Well, it and Akira). The franchise has had a number of incarnations in film and television series, with different narrative continuities and versions of Kusanagi – and it stands to gain a much larger profile with a live-action film for release in 2017, with Scarlett Johansson in the starring role (although I’m not entirely confident in the film’s direction).

 

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Major Motoko Kusanagi is a cyborg police officer leading the counter-cyberterrorist organization (and cyborg SWAT team) Public Security Section 9 in a post-cyberpunk Japan. The cyberpunk or post-cyberpunk of the film’s story arises from a future in which computer technology has advanced to the point that it allows members of the public to interface their biological brain or mind (as the titular ghost in the shell) with various networks, varying from simple minimal interfaces to almost complete replacement of the brain with cybernetic parts, and with varying levels of body prostheses, extending to fully prosthetic bodies or cyborgs (being the titular shell) – with the primary example being Kusanagi herself. Of course, this high level of cybernetic interfacing opens the brain up to attacks from highly skilled hackers, with the most dangerous being those who can ‘hack’ a person to bend to their whims – such as the Puppet-Master in the original film. Hence the need for Public Security Section 9.

 

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And of course, being anime, she’s a hot cyborg – which is further enhanced by her most definitive costume from the original film, her “thermoptic camouflage suit” which is essentially a skin tight body suit.

 

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Or just, you know, being plugged in and naked, as in some of her most iconic images.

 

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In fairness, she does have different costumes (or bodies) in different incarnations of the franchise. And it’s not all about appearance – her prosthetic body makes her effectively superhuman, capable of physical feats beyond more biological human bodies, while her mind-body interface allows for powerful feats of hacking.

 

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Of course, the franchise’s enduring influence and popularity have inspired cosplayers, and being cosplay, typically of her definitive body suit costume.

 

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Or just, you know, being plugged in and naked.

 

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Actually, there’s some awesome cosplay photography of her whole plugged in and naked look, including the following reproduction of one of her more iconic images from the anime.

 

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Mega-City Law: The Day the Law Died – Dredd Shock News! (Complete Case Files Volume 2 – Prog 100)

2017-01-19

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: THE DAY THE LAW DIED – DREDD SHOCK NEWS! (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 2 – PROG 100)

 

This episode opens with Chief Judge Cal banning happiness in Mega-City One, as in literally outlawing happiness – “Laughter is banned! Smiling is banned! Conversation is banned! Happiness is illegal!”

 

Now that’s totalitarian! I don’t know of any historical totalitarian states that actually banned happiness – although that may have been their practical effect.

 

He does so in a characteristic fit of pique after Mega-City One’s citizenry declined to participate in his Purge-like open crime day and mourned the apparent death of Judge Dredd (for the nth time in the epic) instead, deploring his initial ‘leniency’ – “True, I did execute several millions of you but it could have been more!”

 

Actually, I’m a little puzzled by that statement, as it doesn’t seem to add up. He did sentence the whole city to death, but the executions only proceeded for about an hour or so, on a one-by-one basis (in alphabetical order by name) at one execution station in one city sector, which could only have tallied a few thousand or so. Presumably his tally of several millions would have to include the toll of citizens killed by his regime, in the revolution led by Dredd or in the abortive exodus from the city, as well as perhaps the reinstated death penalty for laws such as criticizing Cal, but it would still seem to be on the high side.

 

In any event, Cal does not handle rejection well – “The good times are over, you scum! Dredd is dead! I am Chief Judge. I demand your respect – I demand your love…and I’ll get it even if it kills you!”

 

Quite. However, once again, Dredd’s death has been overstated – as Dredd’s plummeting road-liner was a new design, “fitted with a crash-proof command capsule”. And “at the moment of impact, air-bags inflated inside the cabin, cushioning the occupants”. Air-bags?! Yeah, I’m not buying it. I don’t think any air-bags are going to save you after a fall of 8000 feet and crashing through the road into the Under-City. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld referring to parachute helmets, after a fall like that those airbags will be wearing Dredd and his fellow judges for protection, not the other way round. It’s like Iron Man’s suit – yes, it may protect from blows actually penetrating it but not from impact or inertia, with your body bouncing around inside the suit, or your organs bouncing around inside your body.

 

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However, we’ll suspend disbelief (as we do for Iron Man’s suit) and roll with the narrative, as Dredd and his fellow survivors within the capsule find themselves out of the frying pan and into the fire. In this case, mutated Under-City scavengers targeting the vehicle in the old Ohio River of Big Smelly – “An upsider wreck…we kill the upsiders and take everything”. Actually, that was pretty lucky for Dredd as the door of vehicle was jammed and could only by opened from the outside – but the scavengers themselves are driven off by an even more feared resident of the Under-City known as Fergee.

 

Sigh – once again, the bile rises from the 1995 Judge Dredd film’s mangled adaptation of plot elements of The Day the Law Died. It may not be quite so bad as Judge Griffin – one of the leading figures of Dredd’s resistance in the storyline from the comics – being effectively cast into the villainous role of Cal himself, but it’s close. In the film, Fergee is played by Rob Schneider as everyday Mega-City One citizen and the wimpy comic sidekick to Stallone’s Dredd. True – the Fergee of the comic storyline is something of a comic relief character, as a somewhat child-like simpleton, but he’s anything but a wimp. Indeed, he’s a hulking musclebound brawler so tough he made himself King of the Big Smelly armed only with a baseball bat – and immediately proceeds to go toe-to-toe with Dredd himself in one-on-one combat. Besides, no one deserves to be played by Rob Schneider. Perhaps not even Rob Schneider. Fergee will also prove to be a decisive ally to Dredd’s opposition to Cal – and savior of the city itself.

 

However, that is in the future – for now, he sees the judges as intruders in his realm and squares off against Dredd, as Dredd refuses to just gun Fergee down as that would be “sinking to Cal’s level”…

 

TO BE CONTINUED – THE LAW & THE LOONY!

Mega-City Law: The Day the Law Died – The Crash! (Complete Case Files Volume 2 – Prog 99)

 

2017-01-16

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: THE DAY THE LAW DIED – THE CRASH! (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 2 – PROG 99)

 

Judge Dredd’s resistance goes underground in The Day the Law Died – literally, as their escape vehicle plummets 8000 feet or so to the so-called ‘City Bottom’ and then through it. As you may recall, Mega-City One is a built-up (again, literally) conglomeration of residential blocks, buildings and roadways extending thousands of feet into the air – and in many cases, built or concreted OVER the former cities or features, now known as the Under-City, such as New York (at least in part), and in this case, the Ohio River. Chief Judge Cal observes the “sickening stench” as he and his crony Judge Slocum stand over the crater – Slocum explains that the Ohio River was nicknamed the Big Smelly from its pollution, indeed “it got so polluted they had to concrete it over”.

 

Cal is so inspired by the occasion that he bursts forth with spontaneous poetry, with the title “Ode to a Dead Dredd” – and it’s as good as one might expect for that spontaneity and title.

 

Oh, Dredd! Woe, Dredd!

Nowhere left to go, Dredd

All alone and so dead

In the Big Smelly

 

There’s a second verse, but I think you get the idea (and it’s even worse). After reciting this doggerel, Cal urges applause from his judges at the crater (“Well?”) – now accustomed to flattering Cal, they break into thunderous applause. (Slocum explains their momentary pause – “Forgive us, Chief Judge, for a moment we were, uh…stunned by the brilliance of your wit”).

 

Cal declares “Judges, today is the third happiest day of my life”, which remains perhaps the biggest mystery of the epic for me as I have no idea as to the other two – presumably the first is his accession to Chief Judge, but the second? Anyway, Cal declares it cause for city-wide celebration – “Let every citizen share in the greatness and glory of Cal!”

 

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And so Cal declares the Purge. Not a purge, but the Purge as in the films of that name – not by that name of course (although where’s the check, Purge films?), but still the same principle as a criminal Saturnalia. Cal decrees that for the next 24 hours, there will be no law – “Citizens are free to do as they wish, with no fear of arrest!” Hmmm, leave the city, perhaps?

 

However, no one takes advantage of that obvious loophole, even though the threatened exodus of millions of citizens was the whole reason Cal built a wall only a few episodes back – or indeed, takes advantage of the Purge for any criminal activity, as the streets are deserted and the citizens hide in their blocks. The stated reason is that “blinds are drawn and flags are at half-mast” for Dredd (come to think of it, what IS the Mega-City One flag?), although one might also speculate that other reasons may well be the citizens’ wary fear of Cal’s caprice (or each other for that matter).

 

Of course, Cal is enraged – even more so, when he hears that the crime figures are DOWN for the day. “I show them my favor by making crime legal and they dare to insult me by refusing to commit any”. He shouts out to the city like a classic crazed stalker – “I demand that you love me!”

 

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The unfortunate Judge Cox tries to appease Cal, by stating that perhaps the population is shy – “Oh yes, Chief Judge. Only a fool could fail to love you”. Cal dangerously asks “do you love me, Judge Cox” and Cox responds with an incredible blunder – “Yes, Judge Cal, I would die for you!” Walked right into that one, didn’t you, Cox? Predictably, Cal takes up the offer, even giving his gun to Cox – which begs the question of how Cal has such a hold on his judges, a question that will be answered later in the epic. Judge Slocum and another Judge can only stand by as uneasy spectators, with Slocum ruefully observing “There was only one man strong enough to stand against Cal. Only one man, and we helped to murder him!”

 

Or did they? After all, Dredd seems to escape death each episode in this epic…

 

TO BE CONTINUED – DREDD-SHOCK NEWS!

Mega-City Law: The Day the Law Died – Slicey, Slicey, Oncey, Twicey (Complete Case Files Volume 2 – Prog 98)

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MEGA-CITY LAW: THE DAY THE LAW DIED – SLICEY, SLICEY, ONCEY, TWICEY (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 2 – PROG 98)

 

Well, it’s almost up there with the shark chewing on the scuba tank and “Smile, you son of a bitch!” in Jaws – “It shouldn’t have swallowed my gun hand!”. So much for THAT Klegghound!

 

And might I add it’s always a welcome return to the art of Brian Bolland in Judge Dredd (although he also popped up earlier with the death of Judge Fish).

 

Anyway, so much for all the Klegghounds, as the others are also shot or blown up in the battle with Judge Dredd’s resistance force. That just leaves the more serious threat of the Kleggs themselves – or it would be more serious, but for some of the series’ characteristic absurdism. Of course, it’s always a fine line between absurdism and just being silly, with the Kleggs erring towards the latter for me. KLEG-HAI!

 

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Before their main attack, the Kleggs perform their battle cry and war dance, which lends this episode its title. Let’s just say it’s no Battle Hymn of the Republic. Indeed, it makes one wonder how these buffoonish aliens ever had the intellectual resources to become feared space-faring mercenaries, let alone an empire – or even to survive battles like this, notwithstanding their giant crocodilean physiques, as their opponents could have fired on them while performing their war-dance. I understand the subsequent Klegg Empire involved something of a mild retcon in that the Kleggs of The Day the Law Died were mercenaries and not exactly up to the higher standards of the imperial forces.

 

In any event, Cal is quite taken with simple brutality of the Klegg war-cry, in a style reminiscent of his historical predecessor – “What lovely boys they are! So delightfully murderous! Ha, ha! Perhaps I should have been born a Klegg, eh Slocum?”

 

Slocum deftly replies  “You, uh – you’re much too good looking, Chief Judge”, winning Cal’s favor – “How kind, Slocum! I like you!”. You may want to be careful with that sycophancy, Judge Slocum – Cal’s favor is as capricious as any of his more destructive whims.

 

By force of alien brutality and numbers, Dredd’s resistance is overwhelmed, but manage to retreat under cover of wounded Latino Judge Fernandez’s last stand, with a stereotypically cliché accent (and diction) even more unfortunate than the Klegg battle cry and war dance – although I do have a soft spot for his “Come on, you steenking sons of armadillos!”

 

Dredd and his resistance resort to their escape plan – a ‘road-liner’ vehicle, resembling a mini bullet-train on wheels, with the ever loyal and resourceful Judge Giant driving. The escape prompts Cal’s usual catchphrase, as the man does not take rejection well – “They dare!”

 

Unfortunately, the odds remain stacked against them, as Justice Department hoverships pursue them and Chief Judge Cal’s own personal ship, with Cal himself on board, intercepts them as they exit the Trans-Ohio tunnel. Hmmm, I always found the western geography of the early Mega-City One somewhat loose, particularly as the Cursed Earth seemed to kick in at the Appalachians (or at least West Virginia and Kentucky). We’ll be seeing the Ohio river as well soon, although it’s been somewhat transformed by the twenty-second century.

 

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Giant desperately tries to evade pursuit, but Cal is having none of it, taking a personal hand to it as gunner and a maniacal speech for the occasion.

 

Hmmm – perhaps Cal has been spending too much time with the Kleggs, particularly as he quotes their battle-cry as he shoots the road out from under the vehicle’s path. It makes one wonder how HE had the intellectual resources to rise to his present position – although unlike his  historical predecessor Caligula, his growing insanity obscures his original basic cunning, at least in one very important part of his control of the judges within the Justice Department which has yet to be revealed. For now, Cal is triumphant, as the vehicle plummets off the destroyed road. They build them high in Mega-City One, as the mathematician tutor on board refers to a height of 8,000 feet! It’s not looking very survivable…

 

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TO BE CONTINUED – THE CRASH