Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
The world is covered to the horizon with skyscrapers. Buildings as thick as a city block and as high as four hundred feet. Thousands of people are crammed into those dwellings. Flying cars and personal gliders that look like a large bat soar between the structures. This is the world of the future, this is Mega-City One.
Two street judges escort me to the top of the Hall of Justice. They stay outside as I enter the observation room. A man in a dark blue uniform is looking out over the city for some sign of dissent or criminal activity. He is always looking. Always vigilant. He is Judge Joseph Dred. And he is the LAW!
He doesn’t look back at me as he orders me to take a seat. I quickly obey. Batman intimidated me. Dredd scares the crap out of me. “You may commence with your inquires until I tell you to stop.” He says never taking his eyes of his city.
“Well..uh…uh…last week you celebrated your thirty-seventh anniversary in the pages of 2000 AD, congratulations. I would have baked you a cake but you would have just seen that as an attempted bribery of a Judge.” I joke to break the ice.
He finial turns to face my direction. “It would have been.” He says gruffly. For the first time I can see his face. Or well just part of his face under his helmets. He has a rugged protruding jaw, and his eyes are obscured by his helmets visor.
“OK…” I try to regain my composer. “So Judge Dredd is unique in that it’s essentially English world view on America. Many American’s at first didn’t even get that it was a satire and dark comedy…’
“What the Brit-Cits call whit.” He said nodding. “Basically I was created as a satire of Dirty Hairy, as well as escalating crime and the states apparent love of their gun culture. But in a sly British way. As a tribute I originally lived in Rowdy Yeats Block a character played on TV by Clint Eastwood. The same actor who would latter play Hairy Callahan.”
“I mean in a lot of the early runs you didn’t even show up until practically at the end of the issue…” I interject.
“In a lot of the original programs I wasn’t the main character of the story. Mega City One was. As well as its quirky inhabitants. For years I was just a reoccuring plot device to tie them all together.” He explains.
“Why do we never get to see what you look like under the helmet?” I ask.
“Again it that Brit wit. It is symbolic for justice. Justice has no face. It has no soul, hence no eyes. By not seeing my face I am more like a force of nature than a human.” He says flatly.
“As hard as it is to believe originally you were occasionally drawn as a black man?” My words are more a question that a statement.
He nods. “Originally we were in black and white. Concept artist Carlos Ezquerra designed me with large lips to obscure my genetic origins. Later artist Mike McMahon drew me as a black man where other artist drew me as white. Though when we began to print in color it was cannon that I was a Caucasian. But again justice doesn’t care about the color of your skin.’
“One of the most intriguing things about your program is that at least the one in 2000 AD magazine the story line is pretty much in real time.” I comment.
“Yes.” He explains. “The story was set in 2099 when it was first published in 1977, in the most recent runs it is 2036. I do not age much due to anti-aging drugs. But the world Mega City One is a vibrant living place with many other story lines, Anderson Psi Division, DeMarco PI, and Devlin Waugh. Unlike American comic books we don’t retcon every decade or so. Could you imaging Batman keeping true to the story line from the thirties.” There is a sense of superiority in his word.
“Speaking of the Dark Knight you encountered Batman in at least four cross overs. Don’t you think you and he are two sides of the same coin?’ I ask.
I am surprised with vehemence in his answer. “I am nothing like that freak.” He sneers. “Sure he has some skills and courage. But he goes outside the law. He says that he is better than the government, better than the rule of order. The rule of law. Whereas I am the law.”
“One of the things I don’t think a lot of people who don’t follow the original program faithfully may not understand, is that the reason that Mega City One has such a high crime rate is that cheap robotic labor has taken over most of the jobs and most of the humans are on the dole with nothing to do but get into trouble. Would you care to comment on that?” I ask.
“First of all, unemployment is not excuse for criminal activity.” he grumbles. “But yes, we do actually approach real world problems such as unemployment, police abuse, greed of politicians, and rampant drug use. We just do it in a satirical and hyper-violent way.
“In another post I called Anderson the yin to your yang. What are your feelings on her?” I ask.
“Citizen it almost as if you are insinuating an improper relationships between judges.” He barked.
“No sir!” I snap, then force myself to ask. “Just what is your impression of her as a character?”
“Oh,” he says sounding appeased. “Well she is basically a good judge. A bit quirky but that is true with most Psi Judges, well since Omar died. Anyway she occasionally lets her feeling get the better of her judgment. Like when her friend the Empath judge Corey killed herself. She quit the force. Even when she came back I couldn’t forgiver her for the longest for deserting us. Until she got hurt really bad, and I forgave her in the hospital. As a character she does allow the writers to show a more human aspect of judges, her psychic powers allow us to explore supernatural storylines. And while judges may be immune to the wants of the flesh, comic book buyers aren’t, and let’s face it we have sold a lot of comic books based on the fact that she will wake up in her skivvies after having a psychic dream.”
I agree to that but not too loudly. “And your impressions of Olivia Thirlby portrayal of her?”
Dred just nodded. “She did a good job. Attractive but didn’t look like didn’t know how to hold a gun. Held her own against Karl Urban. Saved herself didn’t need me to do. The movie was basically a grindhouse movie. A genre whose main attraction is usually sex and violence. But the writers didn’t sell out by having the character degrade herself. The sex scenes where from a perp trying to get into her mind and play head games with her. And she threw it right back at him.”
“OK what crime is the 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie?” I ask.
“A whole law book unto its self. First of all what kind of footsie idiot makes Judge Dredd into a buddy cop comedy. And in the story you have twins that are so identical a future high tech cybernetic forensic computer can’t tell the difference between their DNA, and you hired two different actors who don’t look alike to play the parts. And Dredd taking off his helmet, Urban gets around that in the new one because the entire movie takes place during one patrol. Oh and I kiss Judge Hershey at the end. Judges do not kiss… Still was a better love story that Twilight. I mean there were some good things with it. The city scape is the best cyber punk city since Blade Runner, and some funny lines…Eat recycled food it is good for the environment and not bad for you…he, he, he,…that makes me laugh every time I think of it.”
“So what went wrong with the release of the new movie, it made much less than expected?” I ask.
“Well the people who market shows should be sent to the iso-cubes for ten years. They really didn’t market it here in the states and when they did they hopped the 3D aspect. Which was great, but they missed a potential army of already loyal comic book fans it wasn’t until it the DVD market that the studio realized how much more it could have made.”
“Well thank you very much.” I say “But now I must be going.”
“Wait a minute citizen Heath.” He barks. “It has come to my attention that in researching this peace you have checked out some comic books form the local library and they have become overdue.”
“Uh…” I say not liking where this is going.
“For the crime of overdue library books I judge you to one week in the Iso-cubes.” Then he slapped the manacles on me.
The Management here at Dave’s Corner of the Universe wants to apologize for any inconvenience that the delay in publishing of this blog due to our little legal problems, has