2000AD Prog 389: A Machine? A Myth? Or a Man? A Case for Treatment

Ron Smith gives us a rare multi-panel cover as we focus on the gun, badge, chin and then portrait of Dredd marking the last episode of the Judgement triology.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has earthlets interrogate Dredd on a variety of subjects. Unless contradicted in later stories, here’s a list of Dredd facts (remember that, as with the Dredd story this prog – these all appeared in my first year as a squaxx, meaning some of the things Prog 1-ers had been waiting for seven years for were my groundwork in the lore of Mega-City One). The Law-Giver or Justice Dept Gun fires: General Purpose; Rubber Ricochet; Incendiary; Armour Piercing; Grenade and High Explosive. Judges also carry three Heat Seeker shells in an accessory pouch. False data regarding the ages of judges has sometimes been released to confuse would-be perps (which would have been a good out for any discrepancies for ages given so far). Judges have a list of prescribed oaths which can be used in the event of an upsurge of adrenalin – these include: Stomm; Drokk and Grud. The Mega-City Law Enforcement Resources Unit provides judicial expenses such as those for food, accomodation and robo-servants. Judges are enrolled to the Academy of Law either as the product of cloning (such as Dredd) or presented by their parents when very young. No more than 1% of applicants pass through the selection procedure for the Academy.

On to Judge Dredd: A Case for Treatment by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. As Tharg says, this story gives the greatest-ever insight to Dredd’s mind – though also his background. Such as his not merely being a clone, but a clone of Fargo. I imagine that for long-term Squaxx the news that Dredd is a clone of Fargo was quite the revelation, but to me this was just another detail. I’d only been getting the prog every week since 350, after all. Much of this episode is an excuse to humorously highlight Dredd’s dedication to the law above all other considerations. There’s a nice retro-shot of the panel from Prog 30 where Dredd carries the lifeless body of his brother out.

Frank Langford gets some work providing a page of comic strip artwork for the advert Robotech: Menacing Mutants from a Forgotten Galaxy in a rare internal colour page. Robotech being a new range of model kits from Revell – or possibly two rangers – the Changers and Defenders.

Strontium Dog Newsflash! Those adverts for Strontium Dog and the Death Gauntlet get a formal announcement as Tharg also reveals that the first of 2000AD’s characters to get a computer game is actually getting two computer games as it’s joined by Strontium Dog and the Killing. If I read it correctly, the former is on the Commodore 64 while the latter is for the Spectrum 48K. There’s also a plug for Big K (November issue). That’s not the only game advertised on this page as the G*1 boardgame gets another tiny corner ad. There’s one more thing on this page, but I’ll bung that on the next paragraph…

Nemesis the Warlock Data File Extra! For those who don’t know, this explains Bryan Talbot’s presence (though incorrectly describes him as a new art droid – he’d previously appeared for The Wages of Sin). The version told here goes that after the first two Nem stories (Terror Tube and Killer Watt), Mills and O’Neill started on the two episodes which have just run in the last two progs. Having seen these episodes Tharg then decided it should become a full-length adventure. A different account I’ve read more recently places those two episodes mid-way through Book I. One way or another, the prologue to The Gothic Empire ended up as Books I (The World of Termight), II (The Alien Alliance) and III (The World of Nemesis). They don’t get used a lot, but these are always the titles I think of for the first three books – largely as I knew them before I’d even read the complete books – it’d be a year or two after this prog was published that I’d discover my local comic shop. O’Neill’s move to working on US comics is mentioned obliquely before introducing Talbot. Nemesis the Warlock Book IV: The Gothic Empire part 3 by Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot. As I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t a fan of Kev’s earlier work (I still prefer the 1983 style to the 1970s style) but the shock of going from Book III O’Neill to Talbot didn’t go down well with nine-year-old me. Fortunately I came around and by the time I got to meet Bryan Talbot a couple of years later I was a fan. I have a feeling that was for the Luther Arkwright tour and might be advertised in 2000AD. It’ll also be around the time Titan Books published the so-called Book IV (Vengeance of Thoth, actually Book V). Incidentally Bryan is currently working on the third Luther Arkwright book, due for release in a year or two. What actually happens in this story is that Torque kills Kitty the housemaid for her spirit then goes to the Eagle pub while Nemesis rushes for the rendezvous point. While in the pub with Torque and the Goths a broadcast parodies Neville Chamberlain’s announcement of the beginning of the second world war. Never the shy, retiring type, Torque goes on a kill-crazy rampage through the pub when he takes offence at some jingoistic talk, just as Nemesis turns up.

The Hell Trekkers by F Martin Candor and Horacio Lalia in it’s first (and only?) colour appearance as it unexpectedly appears on the centre pages. I say unexpectedly as the pages are drawn like normal internal pages – no spread here! Instead of running as usual, the fourth page gets flipped to the back page. The tyrannosaur pack attacks, taking out the second member of the Helltrek. Fighting them off, Quint warns that they’ll be more difficult to ward off now they’ve had the taste of human flesh. True enough, once they’re gone, the pack digs up the buried body of the first to die and start to follow the helltrek.

Another page, another Fleetway Annuals advert – highlighting: Buster; Cor!!; Knockout; Misty; Eagle; Whoopee; tammy; Roy of the Rovers; 2000AD; Shoot!; Battle Action Force; Tiger and Whizzer and Chips.

Ace Trucking Co.: Strike Three! by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. The Speedo Ghost approaches the unhealthy planet of Decrepos in the Muump System. The planet itself seems to have weeping pustules and bandaged cracks upon its surface and either the sun or moon is looking decided unhealthy also. I love seeing stories where Massimo was obviously having enjoying himself when he drew them. Contrary to usual procedure, the newly emancipated crew vote for Ace to receive seventeen shots, specifically in the behind, before he heads out among the unhealthy populace. All this and Ace doesn’t even get to keep any of the income. In his words “It’s time I did something about it!”

That Robotech ad gets its counterpart from Hasbro for New Transformers. There’s a couple of cars and an airplane. I’m not into Transformers so that’s as far as I can identify (there’s no names given).

Rogue Trooper: To the Ends of Nu Earth Part 3 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Flashback time! While the Traitor General awaits Rogue’s arrival he internally monologues about how he left Nu Earth and encountered some alien arms dealers who had sold technology to the Southers and Norts and were now heading home. Masquerading as a potential buyer he got himself invited to their home world and witnessed their latest piece of tech – the master chip, capable of assuming control of all circuitry within range. Stealing both the chip and a shuttle he tests out his newly formulated plan at the Magnopole, wiping out the combatants from both sides. Now it only remains for Rogue to enter the scene and, Bagman’s sensors malfunctioning, the scene is set for robots to pull Rogue’s usually trick, emerging from just below the surface of the snow.

Next prog’s advert has a couple of Brett Ewins panels, atop an ad for the Judge Dredd Annual and a Forbidden Planet ad (for the Judge Dredd Eagle comic “No one apes the law!” and Robo-Hunter (Ian Gibson’s Slade in Big Brain)).

The last advert of the prog is for Dungeons & Dragons – Star Shadow: The Keep of the Frost Giant by Graeme Morris and Tim Sell. Incidentally by the end of the eighties I’d be familiar with Tim’s artwork from Fighting Fantasy: The House of Hell (my copy includes an infamous banned page). As before, I’m going to detail a bit more than I would for other adverts as there’s been the promise of a competition asking questions about this story. Star heads after the ice goblin’s trail towards the Keep of Ice. Meanwhile Shadow escapes from an easily picked lock and cracks a goblin’s head. Star uses magic to enter the keep and the pair’s paths meet up in the Frost Giant’s Hall where they fight said giant to get to a gem. The halfling Shadow got a bump on his head when he was hurled against the throne.

And then the back page also had a page from Helltrekkers, but I’ve already covered that.

Grailpage: despite not being a fan of the pre-Book III art style last prog I picked the opening page of Nemesis and similarly I didn’t like Talbot’s style but I’m picking Bryan Talbot’s opener showing Torquemada stalking the streets of Whitechapel in the Gothic capital.

Grailquote: there’s a few good lines from the Dredd this issue showing Joe’s stoicism, but what I’m going to pick is T B Grover, Chief Judge McGruder: “He’s got a small case of arms dealing to clear up, then I have just the mission for him…” I never connected this at the time but this refers directly to The Wally Squad and City of the Damned. It took me a few decades to realise this…

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5 thoughts on “2000AD Prog 389: A Machine? A Myth? Or a Man? A Case for Treatment

  1. The Titan reprint of A Case For Judgement ended with different dialogue. McGruder says something like ” I’ll keep him busy on the streets,where he belongs”

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