House Robots. One minute they are tugging you off while you watch the latest series of Great British Bake Off and the next they have blown a fuse, gone haywire and are whirling around the living room with your severed phallus screaming “die, fleshy one!” What I’m trying to get at here is that, like the Welsh, we should never truly trust them…
John Wagner writes it down while the tag team of Carlos Ezquerra, Ron Turner, Mick McMahon and Ian Gibson do the rest.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT (IN ONE SENTENCE)?:
A robot rebellion led by Call-Me-Kenneth brings chaos to Mega City One, killing thousands.
WHO’S THAT IN THE HELMET?:
Judge Jack is seen commanding a defence against the robots, and, er, putting Dredd to bed.
Chief Judge Clarence Goodman acts like a wet lettuce when it all kicks off.
ANY LAW LORE?:
Electrical storms have been illegal in Mega City One since 2012.
The Lawgiver is given its name for the fist time.
Sectors are mentioned instead of sub sectors or sections so the terminology is slowly coming together.
Citizens of the Big Meg would never agree to work more than ten hours per week. What are they, Geordies? It is interesting that later on, this very lack of work and purpose leads to boredom and crime.
IT’S CULTURAL, INNIT?:
Crime Time seems to be a slight nod to the then popular Police 5 as the presenter resembles Shaw Taylor.
Call -Me-Kenneth’s appears to mirror the “top of the world speech” by James Cagney’s Cody Jarrett in White Heat. They die similarly too.
ANY TEETHING TROUBLES?:
Call-Me-Kenneth is first seen fighting and killing police officers, who should have been replaced by this time. Technically he is doing the strip’s continuity a favour at this point.
A garbage unit has “Keep America Clean” on it.
After his call to destroy all high functioning robots is overruled by the Chief Judge, Dredd resigns from the force, which should either see him take the Long Walk or become a citizen. Instead, Dredd turns up later in uniform (which he has apparently kept for some roleplay back home) and reclaims his badge. He’s such a drama queen.
Because of the electrical storms law, Mega City One has therefore been in existence since at least 2012, which is of course impossible.
If Robots are forbidden to kill humans then why do war droids and Lawmasters seemingly have the option to kill once set loose?
Dredd claims that Call-Me-Kenneth has broken the Third Law of Robotics when he has actually broken the First Law to start off with.
The Council of Five is “The Justice Council” here and appears to consist of the Chief Judge and his three best mates.
Maria is on cleaning lady duties instead of being a landlady.
Once more the colour schemes are a little unusual in places and the Chief Judge is wearing some snazzy red boots in one panel.
WHAT THE DROKK?:
Judges are seen chilling out in the canteen after lunch. Shouldn’t they be out doing their jobs?
Dredd behaves like a prize douche to his colleagues, and when they point out that robots are essentially safe he calls them “fools”. Calm down there, Joe.
The Chief Judge, in ignoring Dredd’s advice, is responsible for the deaths of thousands yet doesn’t offer to resign or even apologise.
The scientists studying why Call-Me-Kenneth went nuts inexplicably give him a new (and improved) body before the exam which then goes on the rampage.
Dr Wisenheimer has a terrible German accent, ja?
In an act of 70s sexism, it is the incompetent female nurse who accidentally reactivates the mad robot.
Call-Me-Graham appears to blow a fuse in his groin while watching telly. We’ve all been there, my metal friend.
When it all hits the fan, one of the Chief Judge’s aides gives Goodman some grief about him overturning Dredd’s plea and then points out that with Dredd gone, who will lead them? A startling vote of no-confidence in Goodman’s leadership there.
When Dredd reappears he is very dramatic, standing there with his hand on his hips. Later on he’s a bit full of himself too with a bold statement of “I, Judge Dredd, will destroy Call-Me-Kenneth. And I will do it alone.” I get the feeling a young Mark Millar re-read this strip again and again and got a similar blown fuse in his groin when he saw that last bit.
Some Judges find Walter cowering in the canteen and instead of just shooting him (which would have been better for the strip); they bring him to Dredd to formally execute him. Dredd is of course just hanging around the Grand Hall to ceremonially execute robots instead of being out on the streets actually fighting them.
Dredd and his rebel robots manage to reprogram the robots on the production line and they seem to win the battle even though the evil robots have been leaving the production line for days before and must surely have the vast weight of numbers in their favour.
At the end of the story Walter is a free robot having turned on his own kind and Dredd returns to his apartment to find Walter living there much to Maria’s complaint. How did Walter get in? Why doesn’t Dredd just boot him out?
Maria seems especially bigoted towards robots and refers to Walter as a “bug”.
While we’re on the subject of Walter, he appears to change in size through the story and has a different greeting written on his chassis at one point, including the somewhat sluttish “No charge- try me”.
Walter also doesn’t have a lisp as described here; he has rhotacism. Although he could be putting this shit on, since he says “destroy” at one stage without fucking it up.
For the first time, Lawgivers are seen held to a Judge’s wrist by a line.
When it all kicks off at the Grand Hall, one Judge thinks the black sky is an omen and that they are finished. I’m guessing he skipped motivation classes at the Academy.
When the pleasure circuits are being awarded, three scantily classed dolly birds are apparently being employed by the Justice Department to hand them out while dressed in eagle feathers. Did Goodman sign off on this?
A robodog bites Dredd’s lower left leg.
WHAT’S THE ART LIKE?:
Classically brilliant to mind bogglingly awful. Ezquerra and McMahon do the job but Ron Turner’s faux sci-fi style never really suited this strip. It is however Gibson’s appearance that knocks this out of the state with his crazy robot designs which would one day become his stock trade on Robo-Hunter. Top of the shop is the shot of Dredd approaching the Meg Oil complex. Also, it was nice to see Dredd’s helmet reflected in Walter’s face screen, a sight that I am sure happens every date night at Rowdy Yates.
HOW MANY LINKS?:
Is this a tale of how the cry for freedom can be corrupted or simply crushed by an oppressive society? Or is this an allegory for Jesus with a carpenter from an oppressed group leading a rebellion, getting betrayed by one of his own and ending up killed for his efforts? I’m tempted towards the former since the Judges essentially crush a slave rebellion, leading to the first indication that they will hold on to their power even at the cost of robot rights. The citizens are merely pawns in the middle of this game and the fight is squarely between the Law and the robots. This will become a staple of the epics that plague the greatest of the Mega Cities. That said, if it was the Jesus allegory, the Gospels could be much improved with an explosion at the finish.
Despite the fact that Hitler is mentioned in comparison to Call-Me-Kenneth (so we’ve already Godwinned this early in the stories) I’m giving this six links across the board.