Prog #62: I Get So Excited Just Looking At Its Multi-Level Kill Power! (The Cursed Earth, part 2: Into the Darkness)

Case File

Dredd’s got some serious transport for his trip across the Cursed Earth, but he just needs to recruit an unlikely member of the team – Spikes Harvey Rotten!

Ol’ Stoney Face

Dredd’s ruling this Cursed Earth operation with an iron fist here, getting cranky at Judges and demanding he pick his own criminal to come along. He has no problem whatsoever beating volunteers into submission. He’s not that excited by huge amounts of armour-plated firepower.

The Big Meg (and Beyond)

We’re introduced here to the Mega-Penitentiary (which according to the Governor reforms 99% of prisoners) and Mega-School 3 (which seems fine with allowing barely-guarded criminals to visit children).

The School includes life-like holograms of ancient events, as well as a snarky loudspeaker system.

The Law

Dredd’s got some fancy wheels for the Cursed Earth Road Trip. The K2001 Land Raider has 4-wheel drive, thermal-nuclear engine, flame-thrower machines guns and (most important of all) a special compartment for the plague vaccine! Imagine if they’d forgotten that.

But wait there’s more! When you purchase the Land Raider you also get the Killdozer! With nemesis rockets, cannon, laser guns, 2 quasar bikes and shielding against nuclear blasts! The two machines can link up into one vehicle, and essentially make up a “mobile fortress”.

Coming along on the excursion is three “top Judges”, Jack, Patton and Gradgrind. We’ve met Jack before, and Dredd remembers him from that Robot Rumble. They’ll be supported by a detachment of War Droids.

Judge McArthur, who’s giving Dredd the spiel on this hardware, gets a little over-excited about all this and gets a firm “chill out, bro” from Dredd. Dredd also suggests McArthur quit with the touching.

Creeps

Dredd needs someone who can ride the second quasar bike – and he immediately thinks of car-racing criminal Spikes Harvey Rotten. He’s the best biker around according to Dredd, and has run weapons into the Cursed Earth. The biker has been in the Mega-Penitentiary since his arrest, but apparently now is reformed and wants to teach the kiddies at school how not to be bad.

This doesn’t last long, and before you can say “loveable rogue” he’s strangling his warder and holding children at gunpoint. Yeah he’ll be a great asset to this mission.

Some violence from Dredd proves very persuasive, and Spikes is on the team.

Verdict

More set-up, and this time focused on recruiting old foe Spikes Rotten. It’s a strange choice – he didn’t really stand out to me in his last story. But it’s a great part of the genre to have the maybe-reformed criminal on the rag-tag team.

What mostly works for me here is the comedy. Dredd’s barely perceptible reaction to the tons of death-delivering military hardware. Spikes “volunteering” for the mission. The handsy Judge McArthur. The comic is having fun, which means I am too.

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