Carlos is on the cover and unlike this year’s 2000AD annual we get a cover tagline too.
The contents page features a great pic of Dredd near the New New Grand Hall of Justice – either at sunset, the sun’s rays washing it in pink – or it’s been painted pink in the first place. I’m a great fan of Carlos’ painted work, so this is a fantastic start to the annual for me.
Judge Dredd in The Other Slab Tynan by TB Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. I generally prefer my time travel elements to stay in time travel stories but if it must encroach on other tales then this is a good way to do it. A contract killer, currently in suspended animation beneath the Grand Hall of Justice has just killed one of the judges who put him there. When the second of three judges is also shot and wounded Dredd manages to get confirmation that it was the contract killer (whom Dredd had checked hadn’t gone anywhere). Dredd comes up with a theory – the contract killer was defrosted and healed, then served a long sentence. By the time he was released the judges who put him away weren’t around any more, but time travel had been perfected. Dredd can’t chase the killer, but they do have his body on ice in the present, so requests that an explosive charge is implanted in the abdomen (next to the time belt) so that when they come for Dredd (who was the third judge, of course) it can be detonated, trapping them in the present. A side effect of which is that the older, future version of the killer is put on ice next to the present-day one. In some ways this is similar to the recent Trapper Hag story-line in that the killer can teleport / time travel away before the judges can react, but I think I prefer this one.
Being the star of this annual, King Carlos gets four pages in The Judge Dredd Interview: Carlos Ezquerra. Interesting bits – Carlos moved to the UK in 1971 to get to know the country that he’d been doing so much work for, though moved back to Spain in 1981 after two harsh winters. Some of my earliest memories are during those winters. Both involved holing up in a pub while a blizzard raged outside. Some of the artwork accompanying this feature probably had the best printing it had seen when this was published, the paper stock even for the black and white pages of the Judge Dredd annual being much better than that on the 2000AD annual. Carlos confirms that the boot holster is specifically for easy draw when judges are riding the lawmaster. Carlos used markers and coloured inks to produce the artwork in this annual.
Mega-Speak contains a lexicon of words used in Mega-City One, in the form of a ‘match words to definitions’ quiz. I got 22 out of 22, but then all the words were on the same page – the most difficult one was ‘brainbloom’ because I didn’t remember it was artificial – but by process of elimination it couldn’t be anything else.
A History of Mega-City One (Unofficial Version). Submitted by a reader, it’s pretty good – it consists of dates taken from stories in bold and the earthlet’s interpretation of events in between in italics. I seem to remember it gets used as a basis in the Games Workshop role-playing game, though some parts have been made obsolete by events unfolding in Judge Dredd (Origins mainly) and Savage. Probably 2010s ABC Warriors as well. Before I had this annual I’d come up with a similar timeline, though made up only of verified dates in the comics, taken from Flesh, Nemesis the Warlock, ABC Warriors, Ro-Busters and whatever else had been tied in to the Dreddworld continuity at that point (probably not Strontium Dog back then). All of this uses a background taken from 2000AD and Tornado Prog 169 by Mike McMahon.
it looks like Max Normal isn’t coping well with the post-Apocalyptic city very well as he takes pot-shots at a reclamation crew, though surrenders when Dredd arrives on the scene. One of the vehicles caught in the traffic snarl-up by the murders carried out by Max happens to be a prison hover vehicle, which Max gets put in. Not for long, however, as one of the rings Max is wearing holds a knock-out gas which takes care of the judge guarding them, while a second ring eats through the lock, allowing Max and a fellow prisoner to escape. Taking Max back to his hide-out, we find out it was all a ruse, and a third ring contains a homing beacon – Dredd crashing through the door just as it looks like Max is out-gunned. Max stories in the annuals have always been alright, the informer just skirting the law in some stories, this is a good one – after the last Max story where he wandered the ruined neighbourhood, imagining all the locals who were now dead makes the initial set-up of this one all the more believable.
Justice Department Data File: Jim Grubb – it’s filler.
Fog Devils of the Cursed Earth is a text story, and one which has a sequel in the first Dredd annual I ever got (it was my christmas present the following year, along with the 2000AD annual 1985). The text is by Jack Adrian with art by Mike McMahon. I must have read this before but wasn’t sure what to expect, only thinking it would end with the two protagonists heading off in to the fog (because that’s how the next one began). I’d been hoping for a cameo by Minty, who made a surprise appearance in the last Cursed Earth text story to feature in an annual. Latest update on the Judge Minty fan-film – it’s now on 1,055,713 views! This one has a disparate group of Cursed Earth denizens get tricked in to acting as cannon fodder to get in to a pre-War (atomic as well as apocalyptic) military scientific installation. Mention is made of time travel (second time this annual), but I don’t recall the sequel taking place in the year 1800 or anything.
We’ve had a filler page. We’ve had the text story. Now it’s time for reprint – this is the Judge Dredd story from Prog 31, featuring the return of Whitey. Probably wasn’t credited that time – it’s by Gerry Finley-Day and Ian Gibson.
A to Dredd – according to this six-page filler, Judge Churchill is descended from a famous British ancestor, Judge Bilko is descended from a distinguished trooper while Judge Kildare is from a long line of medics… I’d say the writer left no pop-cultural stone unturned, but they let Judge Marconi be a tek-judge in their own right. The Lawmaster Mk II is explicitly tied to the Quasar Bike, which was first used in action during Judge Dredd’s Cursed Earth journey. The Zipper bike is described as being used by the (Mega-City) Flying Squad – I think we’ve only seen them used on the moon in the comics…
Judge Dredd in Halloween by TB Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. Four mutants use jet-sticks to fly over the West Wall in to Mega-City One – from the title of the story you can probably guess which night of the year they’ve chosen to do this. This is kind of a light-hearted story, despite all the casual murder of norms by the muties. One of the muties gets taken out when they try to shoot Dredd with the lawman’s own lawgiver – obviously unaware of the weapon’s self-destruct mechanism, though this leaves Dredd without a weapon to take out the last two muties. Thus it is that he commandeers a fireworks display, which he weaponises. If Carlos used marker pens and colour inks on this then he did an outstanding job on the fireworks display at the end of this story. Half the action takes place in Cubby Broccoli Block – previously seen in the Mega-City Times from the annual two years ago.
Portrait of a Citizen Under Suspicion! Written by… somebody. Art definitely by Robin Smith, this starts and ends with a one page comic strip but the middle pages take the form of a Justice Department questionnaire. Judge Sladek arrests Herman Sherman, aka The Kneepad Kid for suspicious behaviour outside a bank. Testing the Kid with his Birdie lie detector seems to confirm Herman is up to no good, and Sladek runs them in to the local Section House (North) to complete the questionnaire. This is a snapshot of life for an average mega-citizen, though there are some things of particular note. Sherman claims to have been born on the 33rd of February 2088 – we never have seen a Mega-City calendar… Herman has paper lungs (due to losing his real lungs when breathing in irradiated air as a result fo the Apocalypse War). Life is pretty bleak for Herman. He has one sister and two friends, though he believes the sister and one of the friends to be dead. The other friend is a nodding acquaintance that he waves to every three weeks or so as their mo-pads pass each other. For a while Herman lived at Huck Finn Children’s Residential Centre (presumably the same place as the Huck Finn Block Care Centre that Cadet Ralph Bryce lived at). We’ll meet the Kneepad Kid again – though that appearance will be the first time I met him.
Justice Department Data File: Mean Machine Angel. Filler – the pic is one of Carlos’ covers.
Judge Dredd: Star of the Star! Six strips from the Daily Star which I’ll cover elsewhere.
The Mega-Times:: The Wit and Wisdom of Judge Dredd! This is a selection of quotes from the previous seven years Judge Dredd strips, which I think was also printed in the introduction to one of the Eagle Comics reprints of Judge Dredd. Most of those were written by Nick Landau, so I guess that’s who compiled this. Having appeared in Eagle Comics, most (if not all) these quotes were known to me first from there – back in the days before I knew comic shops existed (unless I’d noticed the adverts) my 2000AD fix was solely through the local newsagent (owned by the parents of one of the people I went to school with and where I got my weekly prog) and another next to the school crossing, where I bought my Eagle reprints and Return of the Jedi comics. Oh, and one day when I was at home from school and ill, my dad couldn’t get my 2000AD that week so brought home a copy of Swamp Thing instead – initially disappointed I think I managed to spot it was written by Alan Moore, so all was well again (apart from me, obviously).
New York! New York? Today’s facts… tomorrow’s figures? This compares modern day Nwe York City (well, 1983, but modern day back then) with Sector 44 of Mega-City One – presumably the same place as it contains the Statue of Judgement and has the exact same land area, at 320 miles. This piece claims the population of Sector 44 is 50,000,000. That would mean one eighth of the entire population of Mega-City One lives in the one sector. Let’s put that one down to a decimal point error. If you took the current population of MC1 (400,000,000) and divide by the number of sector there are going to be soon (it’s confusing – and will be partially covered in Bob’s Law in a few months) then the average population of a sector will be 1,311,475 compared to 5,000,000 here. As this is a central sector I’m happy to accept population density is far higher here than in other sectors. Some other sectors are largely industrial so will have a very low resident population. Speaking of density, it’s given as 156,000 per square mile (which puts paid to my decimal point theory). In the real world Manilla in the Philippines has a density of 119,600, and they don’t even have mile-high citiblocks!
Dredd-Heads! Ten out of ten in this quiz showing photos of famous people at the side along with the exact same photos with Brian Bolland judge helmets plastered over them in the main part of the feature.
Crossword – some dodgy questions here – I think the only one I got wrong was “A judge better always be on his!” – the answer was “toes”.
Judge Dredd: The Neon Knights – more reprint, this time from Prog 29.
Justice Department Data File: McGruder. Mainly filler, but it does confirm that McGruder that she lost her left hand and had a bionic hand fitted to replace it.
A page shared by an advert for the 2000AD Annual 1984 (covered yesterday) and answers to Dredd-Heads, Megaspeak Quiz and the Crossword Solution. And there’s an extra Dredd-head – more difficult as there’s no picture sans helmet (it was Ornella Muti, known to most as Princess Aura from Flash Gordon – but incredibly tricky as her most notable feature is her eyes, covered in this picture).
Judge Dredd: Beat the Devil by TB Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. We return to Iso-Block 666 (last seen in Destiny’s Angels). Told from the viewpoint of Jimmy the Gink, resident of said Iso-Block, this has an unreliable narrator at best. We’ve had Grant and Grover include a few songs in Judge Dredd stories before but I think this is the first full episode told in verse. It won’t be the last. Annoyed that Dredd never commits sins, Satan, aka Old Nick, aka the Devil comes to Mega-City One to attempt to tempt Old Joe. Satan offers the usual inducements but Dredd turns him down. What’s more Dredd points out that every crime on their books had Satan implicated in some way, so arrests him. After hours of fighting in the Aggro Dome, Satan capitulates and Dredd takes him in. Back to the framing story as Jimmy the Gink tells his cellmates that he doesn’t know that Satan is held in that iso-block, but there is a cell (also numbered 666) at the top that has a smell of brimstone and sulphur combined (a tautology, brimstone is another name for sulphur). If memory serves we’re going to visit that Iso-Cube once or twice, but it may take three decades.
…and on the back cover we have a grey-silver version of Robin Smith’s judge badge (adapted from the Dredd Dead cover).
Grailpage: there’s loads of great Ezquerra work in this annual, plus some Casanovas and Robin Smith pages but I’m going to go for an editorial page. The New York! New York? feature had a photograph of Manhattan in the foreground, dwarfed by citiblock and Mega-City One buildings three times taller than the World Trade Center. I’m not sure who drew the citiblocks. They’re a little like McMahon-style blocks but not quite. Comparing to the two pages of Robin Smith artwork earlier I might detect a slight similarity in the ‘texture marks’ used in two buildings there so my guess is it’s Robin Smith as art editor drawing McMahon-style blocks.
Grailquote: TB Grover, Fester: “It’s the great Dredd himself! I’ll pummel him stupid!” Judge Dredd: “You’ll pummel no one, stupid!”