Prog #137: I’ll Give You Hellfire! (Death of a Judge)

Case File

A bunch of joyriders kill a Judge – and her partner is determined to get revenge.

Ol’ Stoney Face

Just like sending Rico to Titan, and ending the career of “Mutie the Pig”, Dredd demonstrates once again that adherence to the Law is paramount. Although he understands Bryce’s anger, he shoots him without a moment’s hesitation once Bryce attempts to kill the joyrider.

The Law

We’re introduced – ever so briefly – to Judges Harkness and Bryce, and get the first indication that Judges can work in pairs as partners.

Harkness is another of the very few female Judges we’ve seen, and is killed early on the prog. Bryce is devastated, telling Dredd she was the best partner he’d every worked with – and then admitting at the end that he loved her.

I wonder why Dredd doesn’t work with a partner? In a different section of the Justice Department, or something to do with his clone background?

Creeps

The Hellfire Club, consisting of Boom, Zit and Nick, joyride around the City’s highways on a large all-terrain vehicle scaring citizens and generally causing mischief.

When they’re approach by Judge Harkness, Zit shoots her down. Her partner Bryce then chases them down on his Lawmaster, and takes them down with incendiaries. He prepares to pass a sentence of death on Zit, but is stopped by Dredd.

Rap Sheet

The Hellfire Club will be doing some serious time – especially Judge-killer Zit.

Resyk

Judge Harkness falls in the line of duty, while Judge Bryce is taken down by Dredd after going over the edge.

Verdict

This feels like the series’ first attempt at a completely serious, important story. I think you can only call it a partial success. It’s overwrought and unsubtle, but given it’s only six pages I’m not too fussed about that.

The idea is a simple one that can play out in any type of cop show, whether its set in the 22nd Century or not, and works well enough here given what we know about the pressures of being a Judge. Dredd is once again forced to defend the Law above all else, and this time it means him directly taking the life of a Judge – not in self-defence. It doesn’t quite have the emotional impact I think it wants to have, but it’s another good layer of how rigid the system – and Dredd – is.

This is a very 21st century view on a 1970s work, but how much better would it have been to reverse the cliche and have Bryce be the one gunned down and Harkness go mad for revenge?

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