Dredd returns to Mega-City One a hero – but he doesn’t get too long to enjoy this status before he’s arrested for murder!
Ol’ Stoney Face
After being put through the ringer on his quest through the Cursed Earth, Dredd gets approximately four hours of rest before being chucked immediately into another ringer. Soon after his parade of honour (which hilariously includes an orchestra of Judges on their bikes!), he returns back to his place to relax.
Before he can even get into REM sleep he’s arrested and brought to trial for murder. He’s not 100% sure he didn’t do it, even though he had no memory of it.
Friends of Dredd
Walter and Maria are, of course, happy to see Dredd back. Neither of them have learned to speak properly in all the time they had to themselves while Dredd was away.
The Big Meg (and Beyond)
Mega-City One is now home to about 100 million people – a very significant drop of the last quoted figure of 800 million! Those people are also pretty fickle – they turn from complete adoration of Dredd to absolute contempt overnight.
The main form of news in the Big Meg appears to be the Daily Video-Journals, which are sent out in vid-slugs. The Mega-Times is one such august organ, and finds itself in trouble with what appears to be Judge Dredd when they print “Film Star Weds Alien” above Dredd’s successful mission and triumphant return.
We get some more detail on the Justice Department here. The Chief Judge is Clarence Goodman (I think we can assume this is the Chief Judge we’ve seen before), a stern but straightforward guy who seems to have a lot of respect for Dredd. His Deputy, and Chief of the Special Judicial Squad (SJS), does not seem so favourably inclined towards Dredd. He’s more concerned about Dredd’s expenses claim than his mission.
OK, I’m going to have to go off an a tangent here. What expenses would Dredd be claiming? Hospital bills from MC-2? Surely they did that on the house! Everything else for his trip was pre-planned and packed. Were Dredd and Spikes nipping off for fancy dinners? Did the Land Raider have a mini-bar? Alright, I’m done now.
The SJS are basically Internal Affairs, investigating the crimes of other Judges. They report directly to Deputy Chief Judge Cal.
Dredd is brought to trial at Justice Central before a panel of four, two of which are Goodman and Cal. The trial is pretty swift, and Cal’s behaviour is particularly concerning. He comes right out and says that he wouldn’t have bothered with these proceedings, and flatly ignores Walter’s evidence.
In the end, even Goodman votes against him – voting by way of white (not guilty) or black (guilty) balls dropped into a glass bowl. Interestingly, the vote must be unanimous – and Cal says that if Goodman votes not-guilty he could stand down as Chief Judge.
Leaping to the conclusion that Dredd was not responsible for what happened – and believing Walter that he didn’t even leave his room – means that someone impersonating Dredd has murdered and framed the Judge for it.
Dredd gets arrested by Judge Cal’s SJS, and very quickly brought to trial. He’s packed off to Titan for 20 years.
Here’s another question – wasn’t the 20 years on Titan punishment just for Judge corruption? I didn’t get the sense from previous progs that it was for any crime committed by a Judge.
The Editor and a photographer for the Mega-Times are both gunned down by someone that looks a lot like Joe Dredd.
It’s a brave choice to follow-up from the non-stop drama of the Cursed Earth with a quick issue that gets Dredd’s hero’s welcome over and done with before he is arrested by his own colleagues and packed off to Titan for 20 years!
We get introduced to the Chief Judge and Deputy Judge, and some more details on how the Judges work, but it’s all a bit too much of a whirlwind here for it to matter. The cliffhangers keep coming – and this is a good one.