Prog #85: You’ll Take Your Medicine Now, Judge! (The Cursed Earth, Final Chapter: Death Crawl)

Case File

Dredd faces the phantoms of his epic slog through the Cursed Earth as he takes the final steps towards saving Mega-City Two – and then must make a sad farewell.

329701-19752-125256-1-2000-a-dOl’ Stoney Face

Dredd is almost literally on his last legs – alone, no equipment or resources, and close to death. Delirious and hallucinatory, he even tries to “drink” the sand of the desert. The final stage of his journey sees him faced with the phantoms of his trip through the Cursed Earth – but he turns his iron will (and Lawgiver) on them and marches on, determined to complete his mission.

He’s threatened once again by mechanical remnants of the Atomic War, and escapes one that is clutching on to him but blasting himself in the leg. Finally making it to Mega-City Two, he refuses the help of the locals and insists on taking the final steps into the City on his own.

Dredd needs life-saving surgery, and his first thought on waking up is about Tweak. He’s thrilled that the alien made it, and furious with the locals for treating him like a dumb animal. He understands Tweak’s fear of human nature, and ensures that his friend gets a starship back to his home planet.

Having been through the ordeal of his life, Dredd heads back to Mega-City 1. The text bar at the bottom suggests however that his ordeal is far from over…

Friends of Dredd

Tweak also makes it through to MC-2 with his supply of the vaccine, but has to go back to pretending to be unintelligent to ensure that his world remains safe. He pleads with Dredd to help him get back to this home, and farewells Dredd hoping they’ll meet again one day. Dredd is furious that Tweak’s contribution to the salvation of MC-2 will not be recognised.

The Big Meg (and Beyond)

Despite teetering on the edge of absolute destruction, it apparently doesn’t take very long after the arrival of the vaccine for everything to return to normal (although we don’t get a set timeframe between Dredd’s surgery and Tweak’s departure, it could have been weeks).

The plague-infected are being eliminated, and we don’t get an idea of how many have died during this outbreak.

Verdict

It’s surprising how quickly this is over – less than halfway through it’s clear that Dredd has made it through. Despite all the ghosts of the last 24 issues, the only barrier Dredd has to overcome here is himself – and he gets to be full-on square-jawed action hero here as he insists on taking the final steps to the City himself. Given the incredible battles he’s already had to face, this is entirely a good call. Even the one actual threat he faces, an ancient mek-trooper, is defeated by shooting himself in the leg!

The farewell with Tweak is also surprisingly effective, and really adds some layers to Dredd’s character. The character, and the series, has been fundamentally altered by this epic adventure.

I really want to keep these daily posts focused on the individual issues, but also want to talk about these epic-length adventures as a whole. So, to read my summary thoughts on this series, head over to the new “Final Judgement” section which should go live with my thoughts on the Cursed Earth at about the same time as this post.

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