Prog #141: Nobody’s Gonna Leave Atom Gulch Alive! (The Black Plague, part 2)

Case File

Atom Gulch prepares its last defence against the horde of mutant spiders.

Ol’ Stoney Face

Dredd displays his usual mix of smart strategy and people skills here, helping prepare the defences and smacking anyone who gets too defeatist.

The Big Meg (and Beyond)

The citizens, under the leadership of Dredd and the Judges, turn the drainage ditch installed around the city into a line of fire that the spiders struggle to cross. It’s then a desperate battle to keep the fire alight, and deal with breaches to the ring that allow some spiders to get in.

Atom Gulch survives the onslaught – but now Mega-City One is the next target.

Creeps

The spiders display some sort of intelligence here, referred to as a “complex chemical code”. They work collectively to surround the entire town first before attacking it. Which, by the way, leads to a fantastic almost-full-page artwork on page 1.  This shared intelligence leads to the spiders deciding that Atom Gulch is too hard to turn into dinner – so they somehow detect easier prey and head East towards the Big Meg. “A flood of death scurrying towards a distant glow in the sky!”

Resyk

Despite the effective defence, a number of the townsfolk fall victim to spider attacks including local schoolmarm Miss Flatface.

Verdict

A dramatic and action-packed instalment. As much as I love the issues that have some introspection, I also love these kind of “countdown-to-disaster” stories. Very “base under seige” for any Doctor Who fans out there. As is often the case with Dredd, the short episode lengths mean that things happen a bit too quickly, with the defeat of the spiders being too convenient. But the plague heading off to MC-1 is a great cliffhanger, so it’s not a huge problem.

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