It’s hard to quantify an epic like this as it’s sort of a stealth epic for another more awesome epic and any story that features Max Normal in his pants is sure to be a winner. The first appearance of Orlok (no relation) brings with it some iconic moments, some tragedy and some frankly astonishing art. Sit back, drink a full bottle of contaminated H2O and choose who you are siding with. I’m with Jimmy Savile Block, who’s with me?
John Wagner and Alan Grant are ably assisted by Mike McMahon, Ron Smith, Brian Bolland and Steve Dillon
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT (IN ONE SENTENCE)?:
Orlok, an East Meg 1 agent, infects the city’s water supply with Block Mania, a compound that causes territorial aggression and widespread chaos.
WHO’S THAT IN THE HELMET?:
Judge Giant is shot dead after taking his eye off Orlok.
Judge Ford is killed by Orlok and has his uniform and Lawgiver stolen.
Judges Kent and Ruskin are both shot dead by Orlok at Weather Control.
Orlok is a one man army and the match of almost any Big Meg Judge. Luckily, Dredd is able to best him.
Chief Judge Jurgen Griffin doesn’t do much, having apparently ceded control to Dredd. He shows up to almost get his head shot off at one point, but he’s a fucking liability.
Judges Barons, Glyn, Shaver and Bilko give Dredd a hand with a Block Wars and investigation.
Judge Flinn dies in spectacular “ta-da” pose (worthy of a poster on a moody teenager’s wall) as a las sniper claims him.
Judge Lowe lies dead at Dredd’s feet while he is being pestered by Griffin.
Judge Fogerty has the temerity to question Dredd’s orders so is killed by Block Maniacs shortly after.
Judge Smith is at Control in Sector House North relaying to Dredd that he has sided with Martin Sheen. Hopefully not in 9-11 conspiracy theories.
Judge Jones is at the forensics lab when Max Normal is examined, trying not to look at the nark’s junk.
Judge Oliver is last seen rounding up defecting Judges for encubement.
Judge Creal is on the scene after Orlok sabotages Weather Control.
IT’S CULTURAL, INNIT?:
Max Jaffa was a violinist and band leader.
(Georgette) Googie Withers was an actress with a career spanning some 60 years, most of it shit.
Fred Gee was an unsympathetic character on the long running soap Coronation Street.
Dan Tanna was the lead character of the 1970s TV series Vega$ played by Robert Urich.
Rikki Fulton was a noted Scottish comedian, much like Gordon Bennie.
Enid Blyton was a children’s author whose work featuring “gollys” doesn’t stand up to modern scrutiny.
(Francisco) Pancho Villa was a prominent Mexican revolutionary General.
Betty Crocker was a brand name of the General Mills corporation.
Henry Kissinger was a war criminal inexplicably awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Ned Kelly was an Irish-Australian bushranger and murderer who gained folklore status.
Tom Mix was a star of early Western movies. He had a ridiculous hat.
Ricardo Montalban was a fantastic actor who could say the words “Corinthian Leather” better than a $400 prostitute.
David Niven was a noted British actor who could drink almost everyone under the table.
Paul Gadd was the real name of kiddie fiddling ex-glam rocker Gary Glitter. Never discuss this with Mr Ross.
Garner Ted Armstrong was an American worshipper of an invisible sky daddy and founder of the Worldwide Church of God.
(Henry) Chapman Pincher was an Indian born journalist, spy hunter and novelist.
Joan Collins was an actress famous for her glamorous persona when viewed through a Vaseline soaked camera lens.
Martin Sheen was a noted American actor who seemed a little bit thick at times.
Arnold Stang was an American comic actor who usually played a small and bespectacled, yet brash and knowing big-city type.
Rudi Valli is probably a corruption of Rudy Vallee, American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer.
(Antoine) Fats Domino was an American rock and roll pianist.
Bronte Conurb could be named for any one of the talented Bronte family.
Vic(tor) Hugo was a French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist and the author of Les Miserables.
Ray Reardon was a noted snooker player often likened to a vampire.
Frank Zappa was an American musician.
Jed Clampett was the lead character of the TV comedy The Beverley Hillbillies.
Rita Heyworth was an American film actress and dancer who attained fame during the 1940s as one of the era’s top stars
(George) Gabby Hayes, a grizzled character actor of many Westerns.
Booker T (Jones) was best known as the front man of the band Booker T. and the MGs.
Buddy Ebsen was an actor most famous for his role of Jed Clampett.
Barnaby Jones was a TV detective of the 1970s played by Buddy Ebsen.
Rowdy Yates was a character played by Clint Eastwood in the TV series Rawhide.
Though dead, Charlton Heston remains a shit actor and gun nut.
After the H-Wagon crash, Dredd uses his bike lasers to burn through the hull. In typical Ron Smith style, the lasers fire from the bike cannon.
This story is meant to be set in 2103 but since it takes place just days before the outbreak of the war it must be June 2104.
Weather Control now appears to be manned by Judges, even though it has been seen to be civilian staff previously. I dunno, maybe they got tired of all the fuck ups.
ANY LAW LORE?:
Electro cordons are used to contain rioting citizens.
Stumm gas causes death in one in every 250 cases and as such it is banned in open areas.
WHAT THE DROKK?:
Ridiculously, the tankers used to fetch the deadly compounds have Charlton Heston Convoy written on the side. Why? Do they have special tankers on standby at Heston Block or did the Block Maniacs get this done on the spur of the moment?
Dredd apparently has his own “operations centre” at the Grand Hall. What does Chief Judge Griffin do exactly?
Chief Judge Griffin goes to the battlefield to talk to Dredd directly, putting himself in danger. Can’t he just radio Dredd?
Griffin used the phrase “Lord knows”. Which Lord would that be, Jurgen?
The Tek Judge in Med Bay who treats Dredd appears to have a uniform that makes her look like a panto dame.
Orlok’s hands appear to be huge when he is about to garrotte Speck.
How is Orlok is able to fire Judge Ford’s stolen Lawgiver?
WHAT’S THE ART LIKE?:
This starts off incredibly strong and McMahon’s bonkers looking blocks are a thing of wonder. In a startling bit of foresight, Melda Dreep’s shoes (which look like dogs) were being worn by a person in front of me in a queue a few weeks back. Best of all from McMahon is the look at the hovering Pat Wagons again which are a far cry from the Black Maria throwbacks we have seen under some artists.
When Smith takes over there are a few odd moments (check out the Weather Control ship straight out of Star Trek and the ridiculous sized guns in Jed Clampett block) but it still works. Weirdest of all was probably Max Normal strapped to an upright bed in his hat and pants like he is waiting for Christian Grey to arrive with a fresh batch of KY jelly. Gotta love Smith’s H-Wagon design, though, and let’s face it- the man can draw wholesale destruction.
Dillon’s section is quite workmanlike though he does pull off superb action stuff as Orlok kills his way across the city. The circle panel acting as a gunsight as the Sov agent guns down two Judges is simple but magnificent.
It has to be said, though that top of the shop belongs to Bolland. Though the look of the toppling city block is silly, he more than makes up for this with the fluidity of the punch up between Dredd and Orlok. The “Rowdy Yates” panel remains utterly iconic and the lovely touch at the end with the mushroom clouds in Orlok’s eyes as he gleefully smiles is superb. It isn’t all good though and some of the colouring is off at times. At the risk of sounding like Mr Ross (but in a completely different context), this is let down a bit by the coloured sections.
HOW MANY LINKS?:
The ramping up of the violence between blocks starts out in a comical and zany fashion and then goes quite dark with the city being effectively in meltdown and the death toll rising. I’m awarding extra points for the hilarious block related double entendres such as “All the way with Henry K” and “Hang on, Blyton, Rikki Fulton’s coming”. I’m also deducting one point for the “I’ve got a soft spot for Paul Gadd” line. I also like the fact that we get a variance in block richness but at the end of the day, the urge to fight regardless of status plays out and the fact of the Judges even choosing a side is disheartening as the line between citizen and Judge has been crossed. At the end we’re left with genuine pant-filling terror as the nukes start flying. We lived with the constant threat of this nuclear annihilation back then and to see it now easily evokes those memories. All in all, six links.