Fresh from watching the risible Justice League, Orlok is cleaning his palate with the help of a classic story. The Return of Rico is the antithesis of the aforementioned film, since it has character development, emotional impact and doesn’t have to CGI-out Henry Cavill’s new tache. Dredd’s beard on the other hand, well she’s still in it…
September 2099 (Prog 30).
Pat Mills throws a curveball and creates something utterly astonishing. Mick McMahon matches it with some terrific artwork.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT (IN ONE SENTENCE)?:
Dredd’s clone brother, Rico (Titan prisoner 2074), returns to Mega City One for a final showdown.
WHO’S THAT IN THE HELMET?:
Judge Rico is arrested after he runs a protection racket and commits murder. Twenty years later he is killed by Dredd in a final gunfight.
Chief Judge Clarence Goodman shows up at the end of the story, presumably because he was bored running a city of 800 million people and needed somewhere to be.
It’S CULTURAL, INNIT?:
Kennedy Spaceport is doubtless named for the priapic 35th President of the USA.
“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” is a classic line lifted from the song made famous by The Hollies.
ANY LAW LORE?:
Dredd’s first name is given as Joe.
We learn that the Dredd brothers were clones.
Rico was always the better Cadet and only his actions got his brother Joe through the Academy, which seems unusual since both were on the honour roll. Therefore Dredd must have been at least excellent.
In 2079 the Titan guards had few Judges on the penal colony, presumably as the Judges were still few in number.
Dredd’s helmet respirator allows for 20 mins of oxygen.
ANY TEETHING TROUBLES?:
Dredd is seen without his helmet as a Cadet.
Maria is now Dredd’s housekeeper rather than a cleaning lady. She seems to have a lot of roles in Dredd”s life.
WHAT THE DROKK?:
Were there two Dredds on the streets in 2099 or did Rico take the name “Rico” after a coin flip?
Rico was arrested for “takings bribes” whatever that is.
Titan is not airless and does actually have a thin atmosphere.
How is Rico allowed to return to the city without the Judges being informed?
How does he get past airport customs/security and later secure a gun? His contacts in the city will be 20 years out of date and he can’t very well waltz into a Meg-Mart.
When Rico arrives he is wearing some very Wicked Witch stockings.
Rico removes the air from Dredd’s apartment (hang on, they are airtight?), yet Dredd can still can breathe enough air to comment on this and doesn’t get blown into the apartment by the recompression.
While we are on that subject, if there is no air, how can they speak as the sound waves won’t carry in a vaccum?
The Chief Judge is there when Rico dies; has he nothing better to do with his time?
WHAT’S THE ART LIKE?:
Magnificent throughout and the reveal of Rico’s face with the tension build up is masterfully done. And yes, that is Dredd’s face in the flashback.
HOW MANY LINKS?:
Despite a few quibbles it’s impossible to give this anything other than seven as it is another classic tale that though written by Mills (and not Wagner) gives some amazing insights into Dredd’s personality. Giving Dredd a clone brother who he has to turn against adds some fascinating familial ties and goes a long way to explaining his lack of emotional attachments. Despite this being just six pages long it is a masterclass in tension, emotion and world building. Finally, we’re seeing some flesh on Dredd’s bones and it is stories like this that make the first year something to re-read.