Prog #68: The Mess You Made of America! (The Cursed Earth, part 8: The Sleeper Awakes)

Case File

Dredd gives the townsfolk of old Kentucky a history lesson, telling the tale of the Last President of the United States – Robert Booth.

Ol’ Stoney Face

Dredd clearly knows about this history in his role as a Judge, but it does pose a couple of questions. The events he’s describing only happened 30 years ago, but no citizens seem to know what happened to Booth in the end. Was the actual punishment itself kept from them? Not a great look for the Judges if so, as they benefited immensely from Booth’s fall from power.

Dredd takes it upon himself to change Booth’s sentence – a big call considering the circumstances of his crime (you know, the almost complete destruction of America). I assume that the cryogenic suspension was no longer going to work properly, but he doesn’t even consider getting it repaired.

He once again displays some generosity of spirit towards the Cursed Earth, hoping that Booth will help to bring life to the wasteland.

The Big Meg (and Beyond)

Well we sure get a hell of a history lesson here.

In 2070, President Bob “Smooth” Booth apparently started the Great Atomic War (Dredd says that he “pressed the button”, though we get no more details about whether this was unprovoked or retaliatory). The result of this action decimated the United States, and created the Cursed Earth.

The citizens rebelled, and at least according to Dredd’s version of events, called for the Judges to take over. They deposed Booth, and sentenced him to 100 years suspended animation in Fort Knox. This apparently did not signify the end of the war as a bomb hit the Fort at some point after this, damaging the systems.

The Law

There’s a lot to parse here, and it can really only be done by inference and assumption. Dredd’s story is entirely from the Judges’ point of view, so can we assume that the citizens calling for them to take power is completely accurate? For a freedom-obsessed people like Americans, there has to be more to the story.

When they depose Booth, the Judges present him with a “Declaration of Judgement” and then try him for war crimes before the Grand Council of Judges. The Judges have now held complete power for 30 years.

Creeps

The trio of medical robots get names! Snap, Crackle and Pop. OK. They’ve been programmed to care for and protect Booth, but also obey Judges – so they’re a bit sheepish when they realise Dredd is a Judge. They replaced Booth’s blood, but after the bomb hit they tried to obey their programming by attacking the local townsfolk. They much prefer their life working the land after this issue.

We don’t learn a lot about Booth personally here, but 30 years ago he was found guilty of war crimes by decimating America through the Great Atomic War. He was the last President of the US.

Rap Sheet

Dredd takes it upon himself to commute President Booth’s sentence from 100 years sleep to a lifetime working the fields of the Cursed Earth.

Verdict

Another good one, and a nice glimpse into the history of Dredd’s world. It’s very hard not to read this one without knowing that Origins is coming (a long, long time away for this blog!), but even on its own it works as a bit of an anti-war morality tale. I would have liked to have actually heard from Booth himself – he gets a single line here – but that aside, another win for the Cursed Earth series.

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