Prog #11: Not Ze Carpenter’s Drill! (Robot Wars, Part 2)

Case File

Dredd is denied permission from the Grand Judge to destroy all advanced robots, so hands in his Badge. This noble stand is pretty quickly overturned however when Call-Me-Kenneth is accidentally (read: stupidly) re-activated and ferments insurrection with the City’s robots.

Ol’ Stoney Face

Dredd is so sure that the advanced robots are such a danger that he insists he be allowed to destroy them all. When this is denied, he actually goes so far as to resign.

This lasts at most a few hours, as he gets to come back and gloat (again) when the robots rise up. Dredd is described as a “hardliner” by on of the other Judges, and they seem somewhat worryingly reliant on him.

The Big Meg

Television is still a thing in 2099. One of the channels is XTV, which broadcasts “Medicine Today” live. They’re observing Dr. Arnold Wisenheimer operate on Call-Me-Kenneth. I guess that’s entertaining?

According to the Grand Judge, the people would balk at working any more than 10 hours per week, now that robots do all the annoying work.

The police force are clarified here as separate from the Judges, calling them in when they’re overrun by the metal mutineers.

The Law

Dredd hands in his badge to the Grand Judge at the Council Hall of Justice (the same as Justice HQ?). The Grand Judge gets a very large, very ostentatious, very eagle-themed throne to perch on and not listen to Dredd. He has the power to pass emergency laws that officially puts them at war with the robots.

Creeps

After coming off second-best against Dredd last time, Call-Me-Kenneth has been repaired (why?), given a new body casing (double why?) and a head unit with “improved third eye” (really, really, why?). The doomed Dr. Wisenheimer identifies that CMK’s ability to circumvent the laws of robotics is in his control circuits, which has a short-circuit in his “obedience banks”.

An accidental electrical charge revives Kenneth, and he is able to speak to the robots of the City through XTV’s live transmission. He’s obviously a very convincing public speaker – within hours the robots are in complete agreement with his views on “fleshy scum” and murdering left, right and centre.

Kenneth helpfully points out to his robot brethren that once you’ve killed your first human, it’s much easier to do so again.

Resyk

The Grand Judge puts CMK’s murder count from last prog at 14. This time, we just see him take out Dr. Wisenheimer with a carpentry drill.

Graham (he seemed so nice) is inspired to turn on his owners by Kenneth, and promptly chucks them out of their 2-mile high apartment.

A bunch of office-based androids, looking like Clark Kent from the 50s, take an early lunch break and kill a citizen with their umbrellas.

We can safely assume that more citizens died as fighting hits the streets.

Verdict

Dramatic resignation! Resurrection! Insurrection! Murder! Fleshy Scum! Did the paperwork go through on that resignation? No? Good! It’s Cancelled!

There are a few glaring things to get over here. Dredd’s resignation doesn’t ring true to me. I’m trying to read these and not think of the future, but I fully confess this may be knowing that there is so much still to come for him that this seems like such a poor reason for him to hand in his badge. By the end of the prog he’s back anyway.

Everything to do with Call-Me-Kenneth’s resurrection is stupidity of mind-mangling proportions, so let’s just move right along. I’m also not convinced that he could so easily get the robots to revolt. His issue seems to be a short-circuit – but by the power of his dulcet metal tones alone he gets formerly servile machines to wantonly murder. A little quick.

But… this is so fun. It’s real, proper melodrama with a very dark sarcastic humour. The prog does a good job of selling how bad a robot war will be, and it makes you want to get to the next part straight away. Can’t ask for more than that.

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