Prog #81: It Was Not Pretty! (The Cursed Earth, part 21: Tweak’s Story)

Case File

As the vaccine convoy nears its destination, Tweak tells them about his people and world – and how he ended up a slave on Earth.

Friends of Dredd

The Story of Tweak! This could very easily just descend into a blow-by-blow description given how this is basically just exposition, so I’ll try to summarise as best as possible.

Tweak was the leader of his intelligent race, who lived in peace harvesting the minerals they eat. Human astronauts landed on his planet, professing to come in peace. But their telepathic or empathic abilities convinced Tweak and his people that humans’ conquering pasts would not end well for their world so decided to hide.

But Tweak’s mate and children were inadvertently collected by the humans as specimens, and Tweak faced a terrible choice. Reveal himself to the astronauts as intelligent and risk exploitation of his world, or pretend to be the dumb creature the humans have taken them for and be captured as well – ensuring he stays with his family.

He takes Option 2. It’s pretty horrible watching this play out given how we already know how badly it ends.

In the “present”, we see he is also a mathematical genius and is lovely to Spikes – who is much less of a mathematical genius.

The Big Meg (and Beyond)

Mega-City Two is close to being overrun by the plague victims, and the authorities are now close to despair – even thinking that MC-1 will just leave them all to die.

We get some fantastic detail here, such as the “Medic Riot Commandos” with their weaponry-like devices which fire tranquilising and medicinal projectiles. It speaks volumes about the darkness of this future that even medicine has been militirised.

For the first time (I think), we get a visual representation of just how big the Mega-Cities are in a map that shows how much of their respective sides of America they cover. It’s a lot. As Tweak begins his story, the convoy are approaching Death Valley and seem to have completed about 90% of their journey.

The Alien Zoo

We learn here that humans have been traversing planets looking for “specimens” to take back to Earth for study, but have a strict rule to leave intelligent species alone.

Regardless of that, the human explorations are not portrayed well here – although obviously Tweak has significant personal reasons to not think this “specimen retrieval program” is good news.

Verdict

It’s a strange detour in the middle of this epic, but it’s effectively worked out and told. The series has touched on some of humanity’s worst aspects before, but it’s really driven home here. The astronauts are not evil but are ignorant and foolish, and leave devastation without even realising it.

There’s also some good touches on how close the trip is to its conclusion. The opening 2-page spread set in MC-2 is incredible, with so much detail packed in to one scene.

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