Dredd and Cadet Giant are tracking down kidnappers – and Dredd wants the rookie to handle this one himself. Giant proves himself, and becomes a fully-fledged Judge.
Ol’ Stoney Face
Dredd takes a back seat here, letting Giant handle the case. Given the case involves a bomb strapped to a child, this is a pretty risky call.
Dredd’s character is really solidified here – we get no trace of ego as he hands everything over to Giant. He is laser-focused on ensuring that Judges are ready for the street, whatever it takes. This highlights his main characteristic – service of the Law – but also implies a greater sense of care for the other Judges. He’s tough on them because he knows if they’re not ready, they’ll quickly get hurt – or worse.
Dredd displays respect for Giant here – calling him a “darned fine Judge”.
Friends of Dredd
Cadet Giant acquits himself extremely well, and we get a good feel for the pressures he is under – or has placed himself under. He’s determined to live up to Dredd’s ideal of a Judge as well as the expectations of his family.
Giant is able to use a jetpack that is lying around (apparently they’re used in aeroball), gymnastic skills and speed to rescue the Anderson child in the nick of time.
Impressively, he is prepared to take down Dredd when he thinks he’s breaking the law – which is of course Dredd’s final test.
The Big Meg
Aeroball is played in the Old Heroes Bowl in Sector Three. Giant’s father played there – well enough to merit a large statue inside. The Bowl includes a Hall of Fame as well as the Main Arena.
GIant is given the black helmet and full-eagle badge of a Mega-City Judge. This is cause for great celebration for Giant’s father – until Giant immediately (and literally) turns away from his father to take up his duties.
The implications here are unsettling. Although it’s never stated, the Judges’ training in commitment to duty is clearly intense and at the level of indoctrination. Dredd flat out states that Giant Snr. has lost his son.
We get another Gang – this time a Kidnapping Gang. For some reason they’ve taken a young child (“the Anderson kid”), presumably for ransom.
Giant takes two prisoners, but we don’t get their sentence.
The last of the kidnappers appears to fall to his death.
It’s refreshing to focus on another character for a change, and even though Giant’s arc of failure to success is obvious, he comes across well. The issue also does a good job of exposing the dark side of the Judges when Giant immediately spurns his family after his graduation. The more shades of grey we see the happier I am.
The only disappointment with this 2-parter is some of the cliched (and borderline offensive) dialogue given to Giant, and particularly his father.