Prog #17: You Don’t Get Off So Lightly, Robot! (Robot Wars, Part 8)

Case File

Dredd tracks Call-Me-Kenneth to a Meg-Oil depot, where he has his final showdown with the deranged robot. Dredd blows CMK up, and barely escapes with his own life. The City puts the robots back to work clearing up the mess.

Ol’ Stoney Face

Dredd manages to finish what he started many issues ago, and finally takes Call-Me-Kenneth out. He is determined that there should never be a robot war again.

Dredd loses another Lawmaster in the course of duty. Those things can’t be cheap.

Friends of Dredd

Walter, Howard, Stewart and J70Stroke13 are rewarded for their help to Dredd (and putting up with his juvenile put-downs) by the Chief Judge and receive “pleasure circuits”. We can assume this means they feel pleasure. These are apparently highly-desired items for robots.

Walter gets an additional reward – the first robot to ever be granted freedom. Freedom comes with a nifty sash that says FREEDOM. He quickly grows bored of this however and crashes Dredd’s apartment, hoping to serve him in a full-time capacity.

The Big Meg

The City has been damaged during the war, and the robots are put to work cleaning it up. It’s very unclear if anything will change in the relationship between the Meg and its robots.

The Law

It’s deeply, deeply unfortunate that the first glimpse of women we get in any capacity working as part of the Judge force in Mega-City 1 is as eagle-themed cheerleaders, handing out the awards. Yes, again, it’s 1977, but let’s hope this changes pretty quick.

Creeps

After last issue’s failed attack on the Grand Hall of Justice, Call-Me-Kenneth is wounded and on the run. He attacks an oil tanker, apparently in need of more fuel to keep going. He has a final battle with Dredd, but meets his end when Dredd causes the tanker to explode.

Resyk

Call-Me-Kenneth claims some final victims in his attack on the oil depot, before finally going all explodey himself.

Verdict

So we reach the end of Judge Dredd’s first multi-part story. And how do we go out? With Dredd apparently trapped in some sort of sitcom co-starring a nagging Italian maid and a wacky robot. How magnificent.

So let’s ignore that as best we can, and focus on the main plot. The final battle with Call-Me-Kenneth is well-executed, and there’s a fantastic piece of artwork depicting the oil plant in the middle of the City dominating the second page. Kenneth himself goes out in a literal blaze of glory, and gets to massacre a few more fleshy ones beforehand.

The reward scene for Walter and his pals is fun, but highlights the continuing dark undercurrents of this society. The notion of “pleasure circuits” opens up a lot of avenues of thought, particularly given the crowd of robots watching seem jealous they don’t have them. The circumstances that led to this revolt are entirely ignored, with the robots just expected to go back to work rebuilding the city.

There may be more to come, but I’d hoped for a bit more on the humans’ treatment of robots to be called into question, or at least their decision to give the robots feelings. The action works well, but the themes of the story don’t play out to their potential. I don’t want this to be a “lesson” as such, as one of the joys of Dredd’s world (as we’ll learn) is that no-one really learns anything. But a discussion would be worthwhile.

Final point: 1977. The year to end a epic sci-fi tale with a tacked-on award ceremony. (WOOKIE GROWL)

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