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The Week In Geek… With Precinct1313

Welcome fellow agents of Precinct1313 to another episode of The Week In Geek, where we love to share our favourite, Comic Book, Video-Game, and Cult Movie news for your perusal and pleasure. And so once more unto the geek dear agents, once more…

Happy 40th Birthday Judge Dredd…

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Not only did the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic – 2000AD reach it’s 40th anniversary milestone this year, but this month also brings us four decades of ol’ stony face himself, grim lawman of the future, the inimitable Judge Dredd. That’s right fellow fans of fantastic fiction, the UK’s biggest ever comic book star has been busting perps and incarcerating crooks for a fantastic forty years!

Dredd made his first appearance in prog #2 of 2000AD in March 1977, created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, and became an instant hit with UK comic book fans, finally we had a character who could stand toe to toe with his American peers. Like many stories emanating from 2000AD, Dredd was an extreme satire of British culture and politics, often taking these themes to ridiculous extremes (though possibly not so extreme, considering the unfortunate direction that the UK has taken in the past year)

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Dredd is the most infamous of the Judges who patrol the future city of Mega City One, riding his Lawmaster motorcycle through it’s mean streets and conferring justice utilising his Lawgiver sidearm. Judges literally are the law… judge, jury and executioner, dispensing justice as they see fit with complete autonomy, save their Book of Law. Dredd is one of the (very) few characters to have become successful outside of the British isles, and has always served as a harsh parody of how the world could end up lest it reins in it’s inherent fears and prejudices. Happy Birthday Joe, here’s to another 40!

 Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Hailed As “Greatest Game Of All Time!”

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Nintendo’s new hybrid console “The Switch” is now amongst us (well, at least the lucky few who pre-ordered the device, such is the way with new Nintendo machines… unfortunately!) and with their new machine comes a brand new entry in their (arguably) most popular series… Zelda, and the gaming media is going crazy for it!

Currently sitting with an astonishing ’98’ overall rating on Metacritic, it seems the professional game reviewers can’t get enough of Ninty’s magnum opus… with even the notorious, critically harsh gaming magazine, Edge giving it an incredible ‘100’ rating, that’s right… Edge!! 

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The Legend Of Zelda is an action RPG originally released on the Nintendo Famicom in 1986, designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. The series protagonist is a small elven boy named Link, who, at the start of virtually every game would be roused from slumber and tasked with saving Princess Zelda and the kingdom of Hyrule, from the evil shenanigans of chief antagonist, Ganon.

What makes Breath Of The Wild so different from it’s forebears though, is it’s abandoning of specific gaming tropes from previous iterations, the impressively vast world is entirely open to you from almost the get go, no slingshots, boomerangs or bombs holding you back from unlocking new areas, like earlier incarnations of the game. The physics are astounding, the graphics are gorgeous,with a rousing soundtrack and an infinite things to do, maybe this is the greatest game of all time.

Why not join us next time friends, for more Week In Geek…

Great British Comic Book Characters: Durham Red

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“Now… your blood would be a different story, I bet it’s dark, rich, full of iron… What do you say, care to indulge in a bit of… transfusion?”

Uh, maybe later Durham… Welcome fellow fans of fantastic fiction to another episode of “Great British Comic Book Characters” our occasional series that aims to acquaint you with some of the classic dramatis personae that originate from this tiny island known as the United Kingdom.

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Durham Red was originally conceived as a sidekick and possible love interest for 2000AD’s mutant bounty hunter Johnny Alpha, the character proved so popular to the fans that after Johnny’s untimely demise she was given starring role in the spin off series “Strontium Dogs”. Created by the astonishing alumni of John Wagner, Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra, Durham made her first appearance in prog #505 of 2000AD in 1987.

In the aftermath of a devastating nuclear war in 2150, that left over 70% of the British population wiped out, an increase of mutated births was prevalent due to high radiation fallout. As time progressed the mutants found themselves increasingly persecuted, facing a high degree of racism which included laws precluding them from owning businesses, sending their children to schools attended by “normal” humans and ultimately found themselves segregated from society and housed in ghettos, which included a giant mutant settlement established in the town of Milton Keynes.

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One of the very few jobs available to the mutants was that of a bounty hunter, known as Strontium Dogs, named after the Strontium 90 fallout and their distinctive search destroy (S/D) badges. These positions were deemed too dangerous for “normal” humans and were offered to the most dangerous and strongest of the mutant society. SD agents operated out of an orbiting space station known as the Doghouse, tasked with hunting down the galaxy’s very worst criminals.

Mutations in the 2000AD universe differ greatly from their other comic book counterparts, most mutants rather than being gifted with extraordinary gifts and powers (a la Marvel’s X-Men) were usually hideously malformed, but a few benefitted from non malformation and incredible physical and mental gifts. Durham Red is one such mutant, her mutation resembles that of the classic literary vampire, her body must intake a constant supply of blood to continue existence. But the gains ultimately outweigh her bloodlust in that, as long as Durham drinks the life giving plasma she is infused with super strength, lightning fast reflexes and near immortality, yet she shares none of the classical drawbacks of vampirism (inability to venture out in daylight, silver, garlic, etc).

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After spending decades hunting down the very worst the galaxy had to offer in it’s frontier planets, Durham grew weary of the constant cycle of death and devastation and voluntarily put herself into cryonic suspended animation, that lasted centuries.

She finally roused to a new order, a war had broken out between human and mutants and through the intervention of various alien races, a Pan-Species accord was reached, giving mutants the same rights of equality that “normal” humans held. Durham found that during her protracted slumber a cult had grown around her venerable legend, with her now known as the Saint of Mutants. The saint fanatic who awoke her, Judas Farrow, quickly found that the real item differed greatly to the legend that had been borne about her, but still found himself accompanying Durham on her many excursions in this new timeline. 

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Durham indirectly was the catalyst for the sterilisation of human kind after being betrayed by the mutant telepath The Offspring, who used Durham as a pawn to seek his revenge on human society. Durham filled with remorse for her part in this, retreated from the world, becoming feral, using her great gifts for survival only purposes.

A century passed before Durham was tracked down by one of her saint followers Godolkin, who needed her help in finally destroying the Offspring. After confronting Offspring in a distant section of space known as the Fracture, where time itself was ruptured, she realised that Offspring could not be killed by any normal means, so Durham dragged him down with her into a singularity, and within this space/time vortex Durham beheld many different instances of past and future selves.

Like most storylines barrelling out of 2000AD, Durham Red was a politically and racially charged tale of parochialism and intolerance, British comics have often moved along this paradigm, with the 1980’s giving birth to some of the greatest tales of fundamental liberalism and forbearance.

Durham Red lived for another millennia, adopting the identity of Empress Redwina and ultimately lived to see the time when the mutant race outnumbered their oppressive human norms.

Great British Comic-Book Characters: Judge Dredd Lives!

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Iconic British anthology comic 2000AD has been administering thrill power to the masses since its inception in 1977. It not only succeeded in presenting to the world seminal characters like Judge Dredd, Zenith and Nemesis the Warlock, but also helped launch into the spotlight some of the greatest British writers and artists in comic book history, luminaries such as Brian Bolland, Pat Mills, Alan Grant, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Simon Bisley. American comic book companies like DC and Marvel have been mining these outstanding British talents to great effect since then on titles that include Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke, V For Vendetta and many, many others too numerous to mention.

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1975 and Kevin Gosnell, an editor at IPC Magazines commissioned the freelance writer Pat Mills, who had previously created weekly adventure comic Action, to develop a new science fiction based anthology comic which he hoped would ride on the wave of popularity of forthcoming Sci-Fi blockbuster movies. Pat Mills brought in another freelancer, John Wagner as adviser and together they began to create characters for the new publication. The futuristic sounding name of 2000AD was then chosen, with the failure rate of new comics in the UK at a high, no-one ever expected the title to ever last past that date. How wrong they were… thankfully.

The debut issue of 2000AD hit the British newsagents on the 26 February 1977, consisting of a line up of four separate stories, Harlem Heroes, Flesh, M.A.C.H 1, and 50’s British Science Fiction icon Dan Dare who was revived from ten years in limbo after his original home publication Eagle Comics shuttered in 1967.

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There was another character who also made his first appearance in the new anthology comic, he would go on to be one of only two characters to appear in nearly every issue of 2000AD since its inception (the other being Dredd.) Tharg The Mighty was created by Pat Mills as the fictional editor of the comic, an alien who hailed from the planet Quaxxann in Betelgeuse, Tharg writes the comics introduction, answers questions from its readership (whom he originally referred to as ‘Earthlets’) and gives out prizes to readers who suggested stories and sent in artwork (prizes could be given in pound sterling or Tharg’s own currency of galactic groats.) Tharg would oversee the ‘Thrill Power’ quotient of each comic and led a team of creative robots who supplied the art and stories for each issue (with each robot resembling their real life counterpart.)

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Tharg The Mighty Dispensing ‘Thrill Power’

2000AD creator Pat Mills’ writing had a strong anti-authoritarian vibe and attitude that was popular amongst his legion of readers and fans, but he also noted the effect that more authority based characters had on his readership after the creation of the Dirty Harry inspired maverick cop One-Eyed Jack by fellow 2000AD creator John Wagner for Valiant Comics, a boys adventure publication which ran between 1962 and 1976. This character was the beginning blocks of Britain’s biggest ever comic book export, the uber violent, no nonsense lawman of the future… Judge Dredd.

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Dredd made his first appearance in Prog #2 of 2000AD, a tough cop who resides in the dystopian futuristic metropolis of Mega City One. Initially designed by Wagner and named after an abandoned horror strip character created by Pat Mills about a hanging Judge named ‘Dread.’  Spanish artist Carlos Ezquerra was tasked with visualising the character, and based his first designs on the the movie character Frankenstein from the 1975 cult hit ‘Death Race 2000.’ Dredd has gone on to appear in every single issue of 2000AD since that time. In 1983 he broke into the highly lucrative comic book market in America with his own series simply titled ‘Judge Dredd’ which consisted of reprints of his earlier adventures in 2000AD. In 1990 Dredd received his own title in the UK, ‘Judge Dredd – The Megazine’ written by his creator John Wagner.

Judge Dredd vs his nemesis Judge Death

Judge Dredd battles his nemesis Judge Death

Judge Joseph Dredd is the most celebrated and feared of Mega City’s Judges, tasked with bringing the law to the innumerable criminals in the teeming metropolis, literally Judge, Jury and executioner, with the power to instantly dispense justice as he sees fit. Patrolling the streets on his Lawmaster motorcycle, which comes equipped with machine guns, a laser cannon and an artificial intelligence that can pacify crowds and perform other innumerable tasks. All judges come equipped with the Lawgiver sidearm, designed to only recognise its parent Judge’s palm print and able to fire six different kinds of ammunition, including armour piercing and heat seeking rounds. Dredd and his brother Rico were cloned from the DNA of Chief Judge Fargo, Mega City’s original Chief Judge, and the name Dredd was given to them by Morton Judd the genetic scientist who created them, to “instill fear in the populace.”

Dredd continues to dispense justice in 2000AD and The Megazine in the UK, and has been the star of two movies, the much maligned “Judge Dredd” from 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone, and the more recent (and a hell of a lot better) “Dredd” portrayed by New Zealand actor Karl Urban (which I reviewed right here

2012 movie 'Dredd' is as close to its source material as any fan could hope.

2012 movie ‘Dredd’ is as close to its source material as any fan could ever hope.

Tharg’s Catchphrase Dictionary:

Tharg the mighty not only brought fantastic characters and thrill-power to the universal masses, but also his own dialect which most 2000AD die-hards (myself included) use on a regular basis. So to induct those Terrans that have never spoken Quaxxiann, we proffer a list of his most widely used and popular catchphrases and their Terran translations.

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“Borag Thungg Earthlet” – Greetings Human.

“Zarjaz” – Excellent.

“Krill Tro Thargo” – Honoured by Tharg.

“Florix Grabundae” – Many Thanks.

“Nonscrot” – Someone who doesn’t read 2000AD.

“Scrotnig” – Exciting or amazing.

“Squaxx Dek Thargo” – Friend of Tharg.

“Splundig Vur Thrigg” – Goodbye.

 

Florix Grabundae’ to everyone who has followed this series so far, and in our next instalment we will be looking at the other classic characters that make up the UK’s biggest selling comic, especially personal favourites, Nemesis the Warlock and Rogue Trooper. So until that time, have a ‘Zarjaz’ day and ‘Splundig Vur Thrigg’ fellow ‘Squaxx Dek Thargo.’

2000AD, Judge Dredd, Harlem Heroes, Dan Dare, M.A.C.H 1, Flesh and Tharg are copyright: Rebellion 2015.

Super-Villain Sunday: Judge Death

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Super-Villain Sunday returns with 2000 AD’s famous defiler of the living and Judge Dredd’s most dangerous adversary – Judge Death. Judge Death was created by 2000 AD stalwarts, John Wagner and Brian Bolland in 1980, making his first appearance in 2000 AD #149. Death hails from the alternate dimension known as Deadworld, where life was declared illegal by Judge Death, since only the living can commit crime.

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Death was originally a psychopathic boy who enjoyed inflicting pain on innocents, joining his dimension’s version of the Judges, so he could murder more easily, he gained his moniker of ‘Judge Death’ from his fellow Judges for his propensity to execute all lawbreakers. Upon meeting the witch sisters, Nausia and Phobia he had himself transformed into a virtually invincible undead corpse and proceeded to exterminate all life on the planet alongside his three brothers of ruination, Judge Fear, Judge Fire and Judge Mortis, collectively known as The Dark Judges.

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Once all life had been snuffed out in their their parallel dimension, the Dark Judges crossed over into Earth’s plane and continued in their calamitous campaign on this new world, only to be stopped short by Judges Dredd and Anderson. Death and his ghastly cohorts would return to Mega City One on several occasions to bring their brand of evil justice to it’s citizens, with their most successful foray in the 1990 multi part story Necropolis, where aided by his mentors, the witch sisters, they would annihilate over 60 million innocents, only to be thwarted once more by Dredd, who had been in exile at the time of their invasion.

Super-Villain Rating: Grim Reaper. 

Judge Death reading recommendations: Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgement on Gotham, Judge Dredd: Necropolis, Young Death: Boyhood of a Superfiend.