Walter tells another tale of his master – this time about how Dredd tried to help a young orphan child become a Judge.
Ol’ Stoney Face
If Walter is to be believed as a storyteller, Dredd now has another lost child on his radar. Dredd takes pit on poor Little Ralphy, particularly after seeing the Aunt and Uncle he’s been lumbered with. He pulls strings with the then-Academy of Law Principal Griffin and gets Ralphy enrolled, despite being older than the other recruits.
When this doesn’t pan out, Dredd is worried that he’s now hurt Ralphy just like everyone else. He ensures the child goes to a good home (hopefully) and apparently visits him every weekend. I say more about this in the Verdict below, but this is all seems staggeringly unlikely. It’s a very strange decision to do this story so soon after we find out about Vienna.
Friends of Dredd
Walter is still showing off to his robot pals, and his rose-tinted Dredd glasses even sees Dredd’s apparent error of judgement with Ralphy as just more evidence of how awesome he is.
Little Ralphy himself is drawn like a cliched young kid from the 1950s, and basically acts like one as well. His parents were killed in a monorail crash and he lives with an awful Uncle and Aunt. He dresses up as Dredd and tries to take down some criminals, and has apparently done this enough times that he’s already known to Dredd.
Determined to try and give him some kind of future, Dredd gets Ralphy enrolled in the Academy of Law. Ralphy starts of well but eventually breaks one of the literally millions of rules that can get you expelled – so he’s expelled. He ends up in an orphanage, angry at Dredd and the Academy, but according to Walter he gets weekly visits from Dredd.
As we’ve learnt before, the Academy of Law is a gruelling and traumatic process, so of course Dredd thinks its appropriate to sign Little Ralphy up for it. You can get expelled for getting under 80% on an exam, or for crying. Ralphy ends up out of the Academy for leaving it to tackle a crime, which is also forbidden.
We just get a couple of background crimes here, with Dredd rescuing Ralphy from a couple of standard burglars, and then later during the boy’s time at the Academy taking out a bunch of hijackers in the Roadliner with one shot.
Ralphy ends up in care at Huck Finn Block.
It seems kind of bizarre to retcon the last year to include a weekly visit to an orphan – particularly given the last year seems to have been almost entirely the trip through the Cursed Earth and then the fight against Cal. It’s interesting to see Dredd take pity on this child, but he’s in a city of 800 million people – he must come across sad cases every single day. All in all, this one just didn’t work for me. It seems like it’s trying to force some sentiment from Dredd, and is nowhere near subtle enough to do so.