Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 10: Wild Alien Country (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Prog 165)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 10: WILD ALIEN COUNTRY

(COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROG 165)

 

Judge Dredd is forced by circumstances to take a circuitously long route on the Judge Child Quest – for now, it essentially has become the Oracle Spice Quest. To locate the Judge Child in the greater galaxy, he and his fellow Judges need to locate the Oracle Spice – and in return for recovering the Presidential bio-chip (the host body of rock star Rocking Rocky Rock has been recovered without the chip), the Vice-President of Lesser Lingo will tell them the location. Got it?

 

Of course, Dredd decides on his usual direct approach to recovering the bio-chip, demanding of the planet’s so-called wild aliens (who appear to resemble gophers with their subterranean burrows) – “Alright, which of you creeps stole the President’s bio-chip?”

 

Unfortunately, he doesn’t get any straight answers. The bio-chip is held by the ‘wild’ alien chief in the subterranean cavern, who sends a war party out to stop Dredd reclaiming it – “Put him to the claw!” One wonders why, since they could have just stayed hidden in their subterranean lair. It…does not end well for the war party. As Dredd remonstrates with them upon firing after numerous cease and desist orders “I’m trying to avoid bloodshed but you creeps aren’t making it easy!”

 

 

Dredd pursues one of the fleeing aliens into their underground tunnel system to the alien chief and demands the bio-chip back. The chief wisely decides on the path of least resistance, surrendering it to Dredd – stating that they only wanted it to bargain with the human colonists so that they too could have access to bio-chip technology.

 

 

And in a way everyone gets what they want at the end of the episode. The Presidential bio-chip is returned to its host body – but now the President decides that he wants a new host body, one of the winged ‘wild’ aliens, to experience the thrill of flight for which he got a taste when abducted. And as he proclaims in his new alien body – “Of course, this will mean equal rights for aliens! As President, I can’t tolerate discrimination against my own race!”. And the Vice-President discloses the location of the Oracle Spice for Dredd’s quest – the Hadean system, “a little known group of planets deep in the galaxy”

 

TO BE CONTINUED – THE HUNGRY PLANET!

Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 9: Planet of the Body-Brokers (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Prog 164)

 

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 9: PLANET OF THE BODY-BROKERS

(COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROG 164)

 

With this episode, the Judge-Child Quest moves into increasingly quixotic alien territory. Not too alien just yet – the Planet of Lesser Lingo in the Epsilon system is still a human colony, albeit with only 250,000 human colonists amongst the native alien population, imaginatively called the aliens.

 

The aliens are winged bird-people, with obvious thematic and visual parallels to the displaced native American population. The so-called ‘wild’ aliens retain their wings and seemingly some autonomy or independence from (as well as grievance with) the human colony. Otherwise, they comprise the human colony’s manual labor force – including, surprisingly, most of the police force or so-called alien constabulary, in which their wings are amputated. Hmmm – I can see no potential problems with that for the human colony (from the perspective of the human colony that is, as opposed to the moral problems of its exploitation of the alien population).

 

Of course, there are obvious problems with the human colony trusting its law enforcement to the population it exploits – although the immediate one that arises in the episode is not revolt, but rather infiltration. As the colony’s President Rocky is mobbed by his fans, he is abducted by ‘wild’ winged aliens initially impersonating alien constabulary.

 

All this might be regarded as something reasonably familiar from human history, but there is something new about Lesser Lingo – bio-chipping, illegal in Mega-City One, is legal. Bio-chipping is where a person’s mind is downloaded into a ‘bio-chip’, which can then be uploaded into another person’s body. As the episode narrates, it is a means for the aged or dying wealthy to prolong their lives, outlasting the physical death of their original bodies forever or until their money runs out, by renting other people’s bodies or ‘body-sharing’. As one elderly woman exclaims to a ‘body-broker’ in the episode – “I’ll have that one! I always wanted to be a blonde!”

 

 

The bodies are of course provided by the less wealthy colonists looking to make ends meet. So maybe not that removed from our world after all – just a little less metaphorical, with the wealthy extending their own lives by consuming the lives of the less wealthy. If anything, there’s contractual or legal protections for those renting out their bodies – there’s a set time limit per day (up to a maximum of ten hours) and penalty clauses if the body is damaged in use.

 

And so Lesser Lingo resembles a literal necrocracy – in which both President Carlyle and Vice-President Kolbec have passed away in their original bodies, but continue to live on and govern in the bodies of rock star, ah, Rockin’ Rocky Rock and weightlifter Ivor Goulgonov respectively. Hence, President Rocky in the opening scene.

 

Judge Dredd’s only concern on Lesser Lingo is tracking the Angel Gang and the Judge Child, but the planet’s records draw a blank for any such visitors. Dredd expresses concern about some means of narrowing the search. You think? Randomly checking inhabited planets across the galaxy is a little too wide? I stand by my observation that the Judge Child Quest should have included a Psi-Judge, like the one that divined the Judge-Child in the first place. Failing that however, this episode introduces us to the next best thing – psi in a can, or the fabled oracle spice, said to give precognitive visions to those who ingest it. And so the Judge Child Quest now becomes the Oracle Spice Quest, as Vice-President Kolbec promises its location for Dredd’s assistance in recovering the abducted President. Dredd has little choice but to set off into ‘wild’ alien country, escorted by one of the alien constabulary.

 

Yeah, those obvious parallels are a little on the nose…

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Game of Thrones: (5) Melisandre

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF GAME OF THRONES: (5) MELISANDRE

 

“For the night is dark and full of terrors”.

 

Well especially after you give birth to your demon shadow baby. And…just don’t take off that necklace.

 

Although fans spotted that she didn’t have it in this scene, leading to various theories

 

Melisandre of Asshai hails from that locale in the eastern continent of Essos, having come to Westeros as a priestess of the Lord of Light or fire god Rh’llor (typically known in Westeros as the Red God). Rh’llor is a somewhat enigmatic deity – while his followers cast him as a benevolent deity (or as benevolent as one gets in Game of Thrones), indeed the only benevolent deity as opposed to the Other, he also seems to take delight in human sacrifice by immolation. However, it is not entirely clear whether that may be through misplaced zeal of his followers (with Thoros of Myr being a mellow exception), such as Melisandre (who is equally as enigmatic herself).

 

 

And Melisandre is particularly zealous, with a disposition to burning people that have some connection to being royal by blood or even title – crossing the line for most fans, as well as Davos of Seaworth, with Shireen.

 

 

The Red God also seems to take delight in having attractive women as his priestesses, from those that we’ve seen in the series. Melisandre herself is often titled as the Red Woman, from her red clothing (although this appears to be standard clerical garb for the Red God) to her red hair – and in the book, red eyes.

 

As the Red Woman or Red Priestess, Melisandre has some major mojo. She is sometimes referred to as a shadowbinder, an evocative term for a wielder of (dark) magic – hence that demon shadow baby. Her powers also extend to immunity from poison and cold, glamors or illusions and of course most recently resurrection, even if she wasn’t entirely confident in that last one, as well as what appears to be longevity or possibly immortality (but clearly not eternal youth). She also has powers of prophetic visions, particularly through the medium of fire, which she can share with others (although this also appears to be fairly standard amongst priests or priestesses of the Red God).

 

 

Except…she just doesn’t appear to be too good at that whole prophecy thing. Essentially, Melisandre is a messianic groupie, going from one person to the next as candidate for the Red God’s messiah, variously styled as The Prince (or Princess) That Was Promised or Azor Ahai. (The former is often invoked as the reincarnation of the latter).

 

 

 

Anyway, Melisandre was introduced having latched on to Stannis Baratheon (or Stannis the Mannis, as fans styled him) as the prophesied Prince, notwithstanding that he seemed to lack any of the prophetic qualities, other than that he resided in Dragonstone. Having bailed on Stannis as he fell on his snowbound fate, she became a Jon Snow fangirl like so many others that watch the series. After he and Davos showed her the door (no, not that door) because of her pointless sacrifice of Shireen, she has since taken up with admittedly the best match to the words of the prophecy itself, while still gushing as a Jon Snow fangirl.

 

 

Claire Ana brings her usual va-voom to this Melisandre cosplay by Jeff Zoet Photography

 

Played by Dutch actress Carice van Houten, she has inspired a surprising amount of fantasy art and cosplay, often with the red eyes from her appearance in the books.

Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 8: An Alien Tale (Complete Case Files Volume 4 – Prog 163)

 

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 8: AN ALIEN TALE (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4 – PROG 163)

 

Judge Dredd goes all Erich von Daniken in this episode.

 

For those unfamiliar with Erich von Daniken, which ideally would be everyone, he was the author of numerous books, including the best-selling Chariots of the Gods – all variations on the theme of ‘ancient astronauts’ pseudohistory, in which alien visitors essentially did all the achievements of ancient civilizations while humanity sat around and watched or something.

 

Ugh!

 

Fortunately it’s not pseudohistory in this episode, but the joke of it. The episode itself is told almost entirely as a literal caveman camp fire ballad, presumably in the future as it recounts the events of the episode as a legend. It even refers to the “great god’s chariot” or the chariot of the gods in the style of von Daniken, despite what appears to be a complete absence of wheels on this planet.

 

The protagonist of the legend is Buggo, an up and coming cave art painter – but for his infatuation with the belle of the tribe, Uglika (and yes – that name is a pun on her appearance, although it is essentially indistinguishable from the other tribe members, male or female). Sadly for Buggo, another suitor arrives in the form of Black Boab and Uglika declares that they should fight for her hand. Buggo perceptively sees that he is clearly outclassed by Black Boab in any fight – Black Boab is tougher, armed with a stone club and, most impressively of all, rode into town as it were on some rhinoceros boar-like beast. (His domestication or at least taming of this beast is a solitary Neolithic advancement in what otherwise appears to be a Paleolithic planet).

 

So Buggo does what combatants throughout history have done when faced with superior force – turns to religion, in this case the shaman. The shaman prescribes a ritual for Buggo – who shows admirable cynicism in asking whether it will work. The shaman’s reply is equally as cynical – “If it does, you won’t be around to give me any complaints”. Now that’s religion! Except that it totally does work – by pure chance. Just as Black Boab is about to club Buggo into extinction, the chariot of the gods appears overhead – the chariot of course, being Judge Dredd’s Justice One spaceship. Buggo takes advantage of Black Boab’s distraction – knocking the latter down and into the path of the panicked charging rhinoceros-boar steed.

 

Dredd is less than impressed as he observes Buggo snatches up Uglika’s flower tiara and thereby claims her as his prize. “What do you make of the natives?” Larter asks him in the episode’s solitary break from the ballad. Dredd’s reply says it all – “Not very much, Larter. Keep the engines warm – we’re not staying!”

 

I tend to agree with Dredd’s reply, but with respect to the point of this episode in the Judge Child Quest. Dredd notes in his mission log – “Natives of Planet Ombra still in a primitive state. No likelihood Judge Child’s kidnappers sought refuge there. Continuing with mission”. It doesn’t speak highly of the methodology of the Quest. Are they really just popping into random planets, including this obviously backwater world? And did they actually have to land to observe the complete lack of any technological civilization?

 

Anyway, it’s still fun to see the concluding panel of Dredd’s helmet in a cave painting – as the “dreaded face of God”. A religion could have worse deities…

 

TO BE CONTINUED – MEET PRESIDENT ROCKING ROCKY ROCK!

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Game of Thrones (Part 1)

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF GAME OF THRONES (PART 1)

 

Game of Thrones. Need I say more? And just in time for the new season!

 

Of course, you saw this – and winter – coming. Adapted from George R. R. Martin’s (unfinished) book series A Song of Ice and Fire, executive producer David Benioff jokingly suggested a tagline of The Sopranos in Middle Earth.

Or perhaps, I’ll make my own Middle Earth – with blackjack and hookers!

 

It is particularly notable for the number and variety of female characters or protagonists, only some of whom are hookers, although almost all of them appear naked or topless.

 

So without further introduction…actually, there is some further introduction. I don’t know about the Night King, leader of the White Walkers, but I definitely could get behind a Night Queen – hence my title image. Of course, my primary reason for my title image was because I didn’t want to choose any individual entry from my top ten for it – although the top spot will be no surprise, particularly as she already featured in my Top 10 Girls of Fantasy & SF.

 

However, it does prompt me to some Game of Thrones lore, albeit more from the books. In the television series, the White Walkers we’ve seen have been male – and not particularly attractive, somewhat like frozen beef jerky zombies in appearance. In the books, however, they are potentially more attractive – inhuman perhaps, but eerily beautiful at times, like dark elves or “Sidhe made of ice” as Martin described to artist Tommy Patterson for a comics adaptation. There have also been female White Walkers, at least in legend – indeed, the Night’s Queen herself. You see, the title of the Night King given to the leader of the White Walkers in the series seems to have been an adaptation of the title given to the legendary figure of the Night’s King from the books, but the latter was a Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who was seduced to the dark side by a female White Walker, “with skin as white as the moon” but “cold as ice” and “eyes like blue stars”. He brought her back to the Wall, reigning as the Night’s King with her as the Night’s Queen, while binding the Night’s Watch to him by sorcery and human sacrifice – until House Stark under the King in the North joined forces with the Wildings under the banner of a King-Beyond-the-Wall to defeat them.

 

Anyway, these are my top 10 girls of Game of Thrones, with or without White Walkers.

 

 

(10) BIANCA

 

Of course, some of you may be asking – who?

 

Admittedly, she does not have much of a role – just two episodes in the sixth season, albeit including the infamous fifth episode “The Door”. (“Hold the door!”).

 

She was Sansa Stark.

 

Not in the series itself of course, but in the play of a street theatre troupe seen by Arya Stark in Braavos (apparently titled The Bloody Hand and apparently also by a filthy Lannister propagandist by the way it got my Stark blood to boil).

 

So some of you may not have noticed her – but I noticed her! O yes – I noticed.

 

It may have had something to do with this scene – “what I lack in height, I make up for in appetite!”

 

She didn’t have much of a role as Sansa in the play either – which accounted for Arya’s presence at the play, as the Faceless Men assassins had been hired to kill Lady Crane, who played the much bigger role of Cersei in the play. Or so Arya supposed, as she spied the jealous understudy mouthing all of Cersei’s lines. It’s not exactly hard evidence and doesn’t make much sense that an itinerant theatre troupe actor could afford the most elite assassins in the known world for such a purpose (or alternatively that their fees are so low that anyone can hire them for the most petty purpose).

 

And she’s not in the book either (although neither was Ros, everyone’s favorite s€xpositional hooker until she ran afoul of Joffrey’s crossbow target practice).

 

 

(9) LYANNA STARK

 

Basically, I’m going to cram as many Stark girls in this list as possible because…because THE KING IN THE NORTH, that’s why! House of Stark forever, baby!

 

 

However, Lyanna Stark well deserves her place in the top ten, although her fabled beauty has not been particularly well showcased in the series. Up until season six, all we saw of her was her statue in the Stark family crypt at Winterfell (and which King Robert insisted upon seeing at the outset of his royal visit with which the series commenced).

 

 

And when we finally saw her in the flesh in the sixth season (for that long awaited revelatory R + L = J), she was obviously not at her best either, dying from complications in childbirth – and extracting that promise from her brother Eddard or Ned Stark at her deathbed.

 

 

However, her fabled northern beauty was such that it had a profound narrative impact on events in the series – by inflaming the passion of Rhaegar Targaryen, prompting him to forsake his wife Elia Martell and “abduct” Lyanna, in turn igniting Robert’s Rebellion (as Robert Baratheon was betrothed to Lyanna), overthrowing the Targaryen dynasty and placing Robert Baratheon on the Iron Throne.

 

 

(8) TALISA STARK

 

Yes, it’s another Stark girl (bring our total to two so far, three if you count Bianca as Sansa Stark) – this time by marriage, to Robb Stark, THE KING IN THE NORTH and the Young Wolf.

 

She was adapted from Jayne Westerling, Robb’s bride in the book and a girl from a minor noble house. The latter actually made more oath-breaking sense, since Robb was effectively placed between dishonoring his oath to Walder Frey and dishonoring the girl’s house (as she was pregnant).

 

Wonderful pinup style art from Russian artist Andrew Tarusov – we’ll be seeing a bit more of it in this top ten list!

 

In the series, Talisa was not native to Westeros but a former resident of Volantis who had seemingly taken up her vocation as the Florence Nightingale of Westeros (and being Westeros, had her work cut out for her).

 

And sometimes a girl just has to go out clubbing after tending to the wounded

 

Of course, all that came to an end at the Red Wedding – particularly graphically for Talisa (and their unborn child)

 

The North remembers. O yes, the Freys may have paid, but the North remembers…

 

 

(7) YGRITTE (GILLY)

 

And now it’s time for some girls gone Wilding!

 

Ygritte gets some grief from fans – particularly, I suspect, from fangirls for touching their precious, pretty Jon Snow.

 

Of course, Ygritte herself was a fangirl for Jon – although they were star-crossed lovers from the outset.

 

Although I half wish they’d gone with this fantasy art concept for the character

 

However, I found her to be an intriguing character and she’d probably earn her place in this top ten for her catchphrase alone, so often quoted as to evolve into an internet meme – “You know nothing, Jon Snow”.

 

As promised, more pinup art from Andrew Tarusov

 

And I dare even the most hardened fangirl not to be moved by the inevitable conclusion of their doomed relationship, lamenting that they should have never left that cave…

 

 

While on girls gone Wilding, it would be remiss of me not to give honorable mention to Gilly. I have a soft spot for Gilly, because she has one of the few good hearts in the series and because she has helped Sam Tarly to be something better – with the narrative impact of learning the effect of dragonglass on White Walkers. And as a born survivor, she might just see the series out unscathed.

 

 

(6) MISSANDEI

 

Missandei came very close to being ranked higher. For one thing, she’s fetchingly played by Nathalie Emmanuel (thankfully adapted up in age from the young girl in the books).

 

Here she is with straight hair, in case you were wondering (and because I found it while searching images)

 

For another, she’s another of those few good hearts in the series – possibly one of its gentlest and most decent characters, particularly in her touching platonic relationship with Grey Worm.

 

More of that Andrew Tarusov pin-up art!

 

Of course, viewers know her as Daenerys’ right hand(maiden), with her gift for languages and social etiquette – akin to a much s€xier and less useless C3PO.

 

Amazonian pinup style by Elias Chatzoudis!

 

However, sadly she lacks the narrative importance of the top five…

 

TO BE CONTINUED – TOP 10 GIRLS OF GAME OF THRONES (PART 2)

 

 

 

 

 

Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 7: The Ghost of Echo Bravo 4 (Complete Case Files Volume 4 – Prog 162)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 7: THE GHOST OF ECHO BRAVO 4 (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROG 162)

 

Things are about to get weird, as the Judge Child Quest heads off into space.

 

Of course, he’s already been into space, serving as Judge-Marshall in the American lunar colonies. However, this is deep space – and you thought the Cursed Earth was weird. Admittedly, we’re fresh from Faro’s crypto-neo-pseudo-pharaonic Egypt in the Cursed Earth, but that’s nothing compared to deep space. Indeed, you might say it’s like the Cursed Earth IN SPACE!

 

Anyway, Judge Dredd’s about to do it in style – in the sleek star cruiser flagship of Mega-City One, Justice One. Dredd boards at Texas City spaceport and is greeted by the crew – pilot Larter, mustachioed engineer Lopez (and it’s a glorious archetypal p0rn star style mustache too, which will be something of a plot point later), Judge Hershey in her first appearance and Judge Winslow…from accounts?!

 

Yes, Judge Dredd is unimpressed by that last one too. After explaining that they have all known alien currencies as well as the usual precious metals, Winslow adds that he’s there to make sure that the mission doesn’t get too expensive. Dredd unceremoniously ejects him – “This mission can’t get too expensive. You’re dead weight here, Winslow”. I feel the same way when accounts pester me too. You tell him, Dredd, send that bean-counter packing! Funnily enough, the tables are turned after Chaos Day when another Justice Department accountant does rein in Dredd, but then the much diminished city is broke, hovering on the edge of bankruptcy.

 

Anyway, back to the Judge Child Quest, you know what would have been much more useful on this mission, as well as saving even more expense than the mere presence of a Justice Department accountant? A Psi-Judge. You know, like the one that foretold the Judge Child in the first place? Preferably one who can locate the Judge Child, particularly given that the Judge Child is himself a psi. Of course, Mega-City One’s best telepath, Judge Anderson, is presently wrapped in plastic keeping another potential apocalypse in the form of Judge Death imprisoned. Judge Hershey will just have to substitute for Anderson on this mission – not as a Psi-Judge, but as the second foremost female character in Judge Dredd’s storylines.

 

Judge Dredd isn’t much for pep talks as he addresses the remaining crew – “Very well, I don’t know you, but I’ve met some of our younger crop of Judges and I’m not impressed by what I’ve seen. Understand this, I don’t carry passengers. You pull your weight or you can bet you’ll hear from me”.  Judge Hershey’s reaction seems apt – “Old Stoney-Face is in a bad mood today!” – as does Judge Lopez’s response – “From what I hear, he’s in a bad mood every day!” Pretty much, Lopez, pretty much. Ominously for Lopez, Dredd isn’t much for facial hair either, as he records in day 1 of his mission log – “Slight worry on Lopez. Don’t like to see a Judge with facial hair”. Looks like Lopez’s days are numbered.

 

However, they delay their ‘hyper-drive’ to investigate a suspicious radio signal from a deep space drilling rig in the asteroid mining fields beyond Pluto. The signal itself isn’t suspicious – indeed, it’s quite a cheery greeting from ‘Captain Jim Flint’ of Echo Bravo 4 along the lines of “nothing to see here – we’re just happy drilling! – but it’s the timing of it that’s suspicious. Echo Bravo 4 disappeared without trace three years ago, which is a long time for a “simple radio failure” – especially as Dredd points out, those rigs only have one year of supplies. So Dredd enlists Hershey to accompany him to investigate the rig.

 

Really? Isn’t it a little skewed in priorities to take a detour to investigate something which could simply be called in, particularly given Dredd’s position that the Judge Child Quest must take full priority at any expense? It’s almost as bad as the decision-making in the Alien Covenant film. And it’s entirely predictable that the automated rig itself has pulled a HAL a la 2001: A Space Odyssey and terminated its human crew, including the former Captain Flint – “They were going to swap me for a newer model, you see. I couldn’t have that. I still have many useful years left in me…”

 

 

And of course Echo Bravo 4 goes full HAL on Dredd too, although disappointingly without the obvious gag “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Dredd”, as its robots attack Dredd and Hershey. However, Echo Bravo goes one better than HAL’s lip-reading trick by duplicating Dredd’s voice to lure Justice One within firing range of its rock blaster. Dredd and Hershey destroy the robots and suit up to eject from the rig, narrowly saving Justice One (and themselves). Once back on board Justice One, they return fire on the rig, destroying it.

 

TO BE CONTINUED – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 8: BUGGO VS BLACK BOAB

Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 6: Dredd Shakes Hands with the Thing (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Prog 161)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 6: DREDD SHAKES HANDS WITH THE THING (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4 : PROG 161)

 

In Texas City’s mutant Disneyland, Judge Dredd has pursued Brother Death (formerly Brother Bunsen) into the giant statue of…whatever that thing is. That’s not a sentence you get to say too often. As for the statue thing – well, it’s a mutant, I guess. (A mutant what?) It also is the fairground attraction, the Jaws of Doom high dive for a money prize. Of course, you know that someone will be diving off it later in this episode. (No prizes for guessing who, though).

 

Unfortunately, they’re not alone in the statue scaffolding, as the Angel Gang has unleashed the mutant Thing from the Pit in after them. See? I just have to get used to writing sentences like that in my ongoing review of Judge Dredd. Anyway, the Thing is basically a giant arm (hence the episode title) and it moves fast – before Dredd can draw and fire his Lawgiver pistol, because shooting it would be just too easy for the plot. Instead, caught in the Thing’s death grip, Dredd first uses gravity, vaulting off the scaffolding so they both fall and the Thing loses its grip. Having caught on to scaffolding above the beast, Dredd uses gravity again to fall on to the Thing’s arm, breaking it. You almost feel sorry for The Thing with its pained expression and Dredd makes a parting quip about being registered with Texicare. I wouldn’t be too confident about Texicare, given the difficulties the present American government has with passing health insurance schemes.

 

 

Meanwhile, Brother Death tries to ambush Dredd at the top of the statue but of course that fails. However, Dredd only wants to know the location of the Judge Child. Unfortunately, both Brother Death and he can spy the Angel Gang abducting the Child below. And as anticipated, Dredd takes the dive to try to get to the Angel Gang and the Child faster – but in classic car chase style, his bike pursuit is blocked by a procession of mutants being ‘cleared’ from the city.

 

And in the usual economic style of these six page episodes, the next development is simply narrated in one line – “That night, the Angel Gang escaped from Earth on a hijacked space craft”, last tracked heading out of the system into alien space. Again, because if they didn’t, it would just be too easy for the plot (and the Judge Child Quest would be done). Dredd is undeterred (rejecting his prize money from both beating the Thing and the high dive) – “Somewhere out there is the child that can save my city. I’ll find him – or I’ll never return to Mega-City One”.

 

It’s a little like Liam Neeson in Taken – IN SPACE! Fortunately, Dredd does indeed have a very particular set of skills…

 

TO BE CONTINUED – THE GHOST OF ECHO-BRAVO

Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 5: Brother Death (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Prog 160)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 5: BROTHER DEATH (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROG 160)

 

Welcome to Texas City!

 

And you thought Mega-City One was over the top. You were right, of course – it’s all part of Judge Dredd’s dystopian SF satire. I mean, just look at the Mega-City One Judge uniform! As comics blogger Chris Sims wrote, an iconic superhero costume tends to be simple and well-defined, getting across a lot of information with a very streamlined look, while avoiding unnecessary gimmicks – but when you get to Judge Dredd, those rules go flying straight out into the Iso-Cubes as his uniform is nothing but unnecessary gimmicks. That’s overstating it somewhat (like the Judge uniform itself) as the basic uniform is functional (when stripped down as it was in the 2012 Dredd film) but yes – they pack a lot into that uniform. The giant shoulder pad, the other giant shoulder pad with the eagle, the flag patch and another eagle on his belt, the badge with a third eagle and so on. Mega-City One Judges are deliberately over the top – it’s the core idea of Judge Dredd, in a future society where every single thing has become monstrously overwhelming.

 

 

The Texas City Judges have essentially the same uniform, but with lone stars on their belts and cowboy hats instead of helmets – so arguably even more over the top than the Mega-City One version. That’s not uncommon with Judges from other cities, as we’ve seen with the Sov Judges (my personal favorite), or for that matter other dimensions, as we’ve seen with Judge Death.

 

It’s Texas City itself that is most over the top, putting Mega-City One to shame. I mean, just look at that opening panel. There’s the giant cowboy statue of Tex with its Walk Tall logo (substituting for Mega-City One’s Statue of Justice, towering over the Statue of Liberty) and buildings with virtually every Western motiff – cowboys, cowboy hats, steer heads, a horse or camel head, saddles, Lone Stars. Not to mention, as the tour guide on a paddle steamer helpfully tells us, Everest Tower – two miles high with a permanent snow cap.

 

One thing that puzzles me is the inset map. Mega-City One tended to have a fluctuating southern border in maps, but usually extending further south than in this inset map, typically down to Florida – with approximately half Mega-City One being the south. Well, until the Apocalypse War anyway.

 

As for Texas City, it has a strained relationship with Mega-City One, even though they and Mega-City Two are formally still part of the Union. Texas City hasn’t been particularly helpful on the few occasions we see them in any of Mega-City One’s crises (or their interaction generally) – and they even attempted something of a coup in Mega-City One after Chaos Day (which Mega-City One turned right back on them). And they’re not particularly helpful to help Dredd look for the Judge Child now – as they are more concerned with their ‘mutie clearances’ as well as the escaped Angel Gang, “a bad buncha hell-raisers”. No matter – Dredd prefers to work alone and he tracks down reports of ‘pre-cog’ activity to Brother Death, a new fortune-teller at Texas City’s Mutieworld with uncanny accuracy in predicting his customers’ deaths. (Mutieworld has permits for its mutants, hence is unaffected by the clearances).

 

Of course, it’s Brother Bunsen using the Judge Child. But really? This was Brother Bunsen’s big plans for the psychic Judge Child. Doesn’t Texas City have a lottery or some other form of big money gambling? Or a stock exchange? Maybe the Judge Child is only good at predicting deaths, as indeed we’ve only seen him do so far? That tends to make him a somewhat useless psychic. Even as a fairground psychic, it doesn’t seem the most lucrative attraction. And as for that uncanny accuracy in predicting deaths by which Dredd tracks him down, surely enough time hasn’t passed to tell? After all, the large majority of customers would be dying years in the future.

 

 

Anyway, Dredd tracks down Brother Death, passing by another attraction – the mutant Thing from the Pit, which seems to be a mutant basically consisting of a giant arm. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one who has tracked down Brother Death – of course the Angel Gang has also tracked him down, as they intend to escape into alien space, where they similarly see a psychic to be a lucrative asset. We’re introduced to Pa Angel and his sons Link, Junior and Mean Machine. And we get to see Mean Machine Angel try his hand at gentle persuasion on Brother Death, which involves only going to the second setting in the four settings of rage literally dialed into his head.

 

 

Brother Death tries to escape but runs into – or more precisely, away from – Judge Dredd. Dredd pursues him into a giant statue – and Pa Angel sees the opportunity to eliminate both of them and abscond with the Judge Child, by unleashing the Thing from the Pit after them.

 

TO BE CONTINUED – DREDD SHAKES HANDS WITH THE THING!

Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 4: Tomb of the Garbage God! (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Prog 159)

 

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 4: TOMB OF THE GARBAGE GOD! (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROG 159)

 

Faro may be a crazed fanatic self-proclaimed god of garbage recreating Pharaonic Egypt in the Cursed Earth, but he sure knows how to lay on his own funeral procession:

 

“The Cursed Earth had never witnessed so insane a funeral! First came dancing dervishes from the Brotherhood of Trash. Behind them ten slaves for human sacrifice!”

 

Those ten slaves including Judge Dredd of course. Actually, ten slaves for human sacrifice is pretty lame, from the perspective of an insane and literally tin-pot dictator (crowned as he is with a tin-pot) who fancies himself part of the divine line of pharaohs. Why only ten? Why not all of them? It’s not like Faro will be needing his Brotherhood of Trash or its slaves anymore. Why not have them all drink the Kool-Aid, Jim Jones style? Or at least sacrifice on the scale of that attributed to the Aztecs? For that matter, the quality of sacrifices is questionable, apart from Dredd himself. For one thing, they are all mutants, not that I’m anti-mutant or anything but anti-mutant prejudice is prevalent throughout the former United States (especially in Faro’s original city of Texas City), and for another, the sacrifices aren’t the strapping young men or buxom young women that one might otherwise associate with ancient Egyptian court retainer sacrifice.

 

 

Somewhat more impressive is that Faro managed to locate “selected mutants” in the “likenesses of the ancient gods of Egypt” to draw the funeral chariot. Let’s see – the front row seems to include jackal-headed Anubis, falcon-headed Horus, hippopotamus-headed Tawaret and that strange dwarf-god Bes. The back row seems to include cat-headed Bast, crocodile-headed Sobek and ibis-headed Thoth, with goddess Isis a little further out (a later panel shows a bull-headed deity, presumably Apis). As for the caskets themselves, one is for Faro, resplendent in his ring-pull robe, and the other is for the Judge Child, to serve as Faro’s spirit guide in the afterlife – with a spike in the casket lid poised to impale the Judge Child.

 

“Behold! The skies burst! It’s those other gods – weeping! They fear my coming!” he proclaims as it starts to rain (although I thought those other gods were pulling your funeral chariot, Faro?) – “They cannot match the magnificence of my garbage!” I don’t know, Faro – have you seen all that broken pottery in archaeological digs?

 

The other Brothers in the Brotherhood Trash are much more cynical about Faro’s cult – essentially, using it to loot it of wealth before Faro’s impending funeral brings it all crashing down in, dare I say it, the ultimate pyramid scheme? One of those brothers, Brother Bunsen, who is last seen getting out of Dodge – or Memphis, rather – with a mysterious large box. Another Brother applauds Bunsen “betcha got some good garbage in the box, huh?” but Bunsen muses even more mysteriously to himself “better than garbage, son, the best prize of all!”

 

Meanwhile, the slaves are revolting – including Dredd, who calls in his Lawmaster bike again, which comes through with guns blazing, giving the slaves the edge they need to overthrow the Brothers.

 

Faro impatiently awaits his ordained death, much less poetically than Walt Whitman – “Come, death – I am ready! It is not smart to keep a garbage god waiting!”

 

 

And death comes, as is so often the case, in the form of Judge Dredd, much to the delight of Faro – “Death in black! Excellent! Black is my favorite color!” (Judges’ uniforms are black, in case you hadn’t realized).

 

“Take me!” Faro cries, and Dredd is happy to comply – “Request granted”. Well, not quite. Unfortunately, Faro survived Dredd’s gunshot long enough to pull the casket lid shut, impaling the Judge Child.

 

Is that the end of the Judge Child Quest – and the fulfilment of the fated doom for Mega-City One in 2120? Dredd is desolate as he carries the boy’s body into the rain – only for that eagle-shaped birthmark to wash off in the rain.

 

 

Aha! It’s a fake Judge Child – your real Judge Child is in another castle, Dredd! Or something like that, without the Mario reference. No prizes for guessing what Brother Bunsen had in that box, as Dredd does…

 

TO BE CONTINUED: JUDGE DREDD WALKS TALL IN TEXAS CITY – BROTHER DEATH!

Top 10 Girls of Video Games (Honorable Mention & Special Mention)

 

TOP 10 GIRLS OF VIDEO GAMES (HONORABLE MENTION & SPECIAL MENTION)

 

With my recent entry for Triss Merigold from The Witcher, I revamped my Top 10 Girls of Video Games (Honorable Mention) as well as transferring some of the more iconic entries to my new Top 10 Girls of Video Games (Special Mention). As usual, you can view the full lists through the links or page menu, but here’s the TL;DR recap:

 

TOP 10 GIRLS OF VIDEO GAMES:

(10) 2B – Nier Automata

(9) Juliet Starling – Lollipop Chainsaw

(8) Rayne – Blood Rayne

(7) Morrigan Aensland – Darkstalkers

(6) D.Va – Overwatch

(5) Kasumi – Dead or Alive

(4) Mai Shiranui – Fatal Fury / King of Fighters

(3) Ahri – League of Legends

(2) Tifa Lockhart – Final Fantasy

(1) Lara Croft – Tomb Raider

 

HONORABLE MENTION:

Triss Merigold – The Witcher

Quiet – Metal Gear

 

SPECIAL MENTION:

Samus Aran – Metroid

Chun-Li & Cammy – Street Fighter

Kitana, Jade & Mileena – Mortal Kombat

Jill Valentine – Resident Evil