Prog #15: Heads You Lose, Tin-Ribs! (Robot Wars, Part 6)

Case File

As Call-Me-Kenneth takes the fight to the Grand Hall of Justice itself, Dredd and a small crew of robots, yearning for the slightly-less-tortuous-days of human enslavement, manage to reprogram all new robots being constructed at the factory to obey the fleshy ones once again.

Ol’ Stoney Face

Dredd accepts the help of Walter and his new pals (including what I want to say is some sort of hip street-robot called J70 Stroke 12), despite referring to them as “run-down excuses for robots”.

At one point, Dredd slips and says “wobots”. I have no comment to make.

The Law

The Grand Hall of Justice finds itself under attack, and once again the Judges appear fairly useless with Dredd.

Friends of Dredd

Walter is – once again – the hero of the piece, finding allies amongst the robots and inspiring them to… be slaves to the humans again. His first thought after winning the battle of the factory is to offer Dredd some “synthi-caff”.

Dredd’s new robot pals provide him with a key strategy – a computer programming circuit that when inserted into a computer in the factory will program all new robots constructed with “the old Law of Robotics”, i.e. obedience to humans.

It has to be said – the resultant battle between pro-human robots and anti-human robots results in some pretty brutal fights, and lots of accusations of “traitors” back and forth. No-one even suggests sitting down and having a friendly chat about their differences.

Creeps

Call-Me-Kenneth is apparently bored with being behind a desk, and decides to personally spearhead an attack on the Grand Hall of Justice with more Heavy Metal Kids.  He plans to “squeeze the juice out of the Grand Judge” himself.

Resyk

Looks like some Judges have already fallen victim to CMK’s attack on the Grand Hall. Dredd and his robot allies take out some other robots in their insurrection in the factory, and presumably there’s also some robot-on-robot fatalities.

Verdict

There’s a good plot move here that I didn’t see coming. As soon as Howard the Robot pulls out the computer disc, I’d assumed we’d have the standard thing where the signal would be sent out to all the robots and they’d all stop following Call-Me-Kenneth. Then we’d get the standard 1-1 between Dredd and CMK, badda-bing badda-boom and we’re out.

Instead something a bit more interesting, and a bit more disturbing, happens. The existing anti-human robots stay anti-human, and Dredd essentially builds a robot army to fight those robots. The plot is shifted very suddenly from a Robots V. Humans one to Robots V. Robots (obviously with the battle for the Grand Hall of Justice still to come).

This highlights an undercurrent throughout this Robot Wars arc that has lifted it from a standard schlocky sci-fi ROBOTS GONE MAD tale. The robots in MC-1 as presented are really screwed. The humans have treated them poorly, in some cases cruelly (poor George). CMK went very quickly from liberator to despot. Their options are servile submissive minions to humans or servile submissive minions to a mad robot.

Now, instead of a simple resolution where all the bots are simply reprogrammed, it’s down to robots smashing each other to bits. I like that the series is already getting murky and uncomfortable.

In general, this is another good continuation of this tale and the raising of the stakes with the attack on the Heart of Judgedom itself is effective.

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