Friday 18 January 2013


The Judge Dredd tale The Cursed Earth was, for its time, the most ambitious comic strip that lasted 25 issues of the 2000 A.D. comic from May to October 1978. The premise was simple the 2T(FRU)T virus was flooding Mega-City Two situated on the west coast of America. An attempt to get an antidote, that had been developed in Mega-City One, had failed due to the airports in Mega-City Two being overrun by violent plague victims. So a bunch of Judges led by Judge Dredd set out in a Land Raider across the treacherous wastes of the cursed earth. If anyone finds this story vaguely familiar then think Roger Zelanzny's novel 'Damnation Alley' transformed into a Judge Dredd adventure. Although the storyline has a continous thread it is also a series of short stories where such 'baddies' as The Lawgiver, Brotherhood Of Darkness and the Alien Finder General discover that when Judge Dredd says 'I am the law' he means it. Of course, it wasn't all plain sailing as the publishers encountered some enraged fast food moguls who objected to the way Ronald MacDonald and Burger King were portrayed in the two part story 'Burger Wars'. Eating the wrong burger or spilling a milkshake could lead to a bloody execution. I don't think I could stomach a 180lb Judge Burger. Five issues later and the intrepid Judge found himself in a kind of Dr.Moreau world with a green giant and Mr.Cube (as in Tate & Lyle's mascot) but the green giant was not so jolly when, once again, the publishers found themselves back in court over the story 'Soul Food'. Even Judge Dredd couldn't get them out of the mess and an apology was issued and a promise made that the offending parts 11 & 12 and 17 & 18 would never be republished. This was, of course, in the days before the internet where these stories can now be found intact. But the best 'baddie' has to be Satanus, a tyrannosaur from the Dinosaur Theme Park. This was 12 years before the movie 'Jurrasic Park'. And the conceived world of Las Vegas where the Hall of Justice Casino was run by mafia style Judges who believed that it was foretold that there would be a Second Coming and that a God Judge would rule over their world. Dredd declined the offer - after all there was still a vaccine to get to Mega-City Two. With all this macho stuff going on the most sympathetic character has to be Tweak - a sort of kangaroo with pincers - who reveals that he can speak. Rescued by Dredd from the Alien Finder General Tweak repays his rescuer by becoming a pivotal character towards the end of the story. The writers Pat Mills and John Wagner between them, with the help of illustrators Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland, have created one of the iconic stories in comic history. Maybe, it is because I'm that bit older but I can see some hidden stuff like racism, a swipe at the history of slavery, DNA and genetic engineering - and was 'Burger Wars' just about trademark violations? Maybe, maybe not - and maybe, it is just my imagination. The Cursed Earth forms part of Volume 02 of The Complete Case Files (or should that read 'Incomplete' as four parts are missing).

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