Thursday, 3 January 2013

Judge Dredd: 'The New You'

NAME
Judge Dredd: 'The New You'
(according to The Dredd Files in Megazine 214, this strip was also known as 'Voice Tapes')

FIRST PUBLISHED
2000 A.D. Programme 3

DATELINE
12 Mar 77

This issue also featured a Flesh cover by Ramon Sola (left), a free Red Alert Survival Wallet, Invasion!, Dan Dare, Flesh, Harlem Heroes and M.A.C.H. 1 strips as well as Futuregraph: Mega-City 1.

PAGE COUNT
4

REPRINTS
Judge Dredd Annual 1986, The Complete Judge Dredd 1 and Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 01.

SYNOPSIS
To avoid 'Scarface' Levine has his face altered, but doesn't account for Judge Dredd's attention to detail.

FIRST & LASTS
First reference to Mega-City 1, first appearance of a woman, first appearance of a face parlour, the Judge's bikes are first named as Lawmasters, first four page strip.

INFORMATION
(The year is 2099 A.D.)

New York is part of the vast Mega-City 1. The weather in the city is controlled.

The New You is one of the city's face parlours. Establishments where people can have their faces changed in minutes, the process is painless, requires authorization papers and is referred to as instant genetic surgery (which suggests the re-writing of the patients DNA rather than plastic surgery).

The bikes that the Judges ride are called Lawmasters. They have an on board cannon and a computer that can compare voice prints.

All lawbreakers voice prints are on file at Justice H.Q. (presumably this is recorded upon arrest).

Time-stretcher jail (time-stretching refers to time dilation, a stretch is a prison sentence)

Scarface's buggy can go at 200 miles an hour, which is above the speed limit (but not for the roads around Devil's Island in 'Judge Whitey', which suggests that different areas of the city or roads have different speed limits).

JUDGE DREDD
Catches 'Scarface' Levine by climbing aboard his speeding car, shooting at the driving Levine, forcing him to crash and arresting him whilst waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

OTHER CHARACTERS
'SCARFACE' JOE LEVINE
He has a scar over his right eye, hence the nickname. He is a member of a gang. He is wanted for Multiple Killing (he's killed at least six citizens), but has broken many more laws. He has his face changed at The New You to avoid detection. He adds speeding to his list of crimes during Dredd's pursuit. His voice print is on file at Justice H.Q. and Dredd arrests him.

ARRESTS
Presumably, one. 'Scarface' Joe Levine

DEATHS
Zero, although 'Scarface' might not be long for this world given his injuries.

BEST LINES
'Scarface': "I'm fed up with my ugly mug. Can you give me a completely new image! (sic)"
The girl at The New You: "Yes...there is room for improvement, sir"

WORST LINES
'Scarface': "Okay - It's the time-stretcher jail for me now."

Also, who says "Jump!" when they jump? Apparently Dredd does.

CATCHPHRASES
None, although Dredd's last line "When will lawbreakers learn...in the 21st century - no one can escape justice!" comes close.

CONTINUITY & CROSSOVERS
None.

INFLUENCES & REFERENCES
Strange Impersonation (1946) and Seconds (1966) maybe. I'm sure there was more face transplant SF before Face/Off (1997), but I've no idea what.

MISTAKES
Trying to write about the influences upon a comic strip without knowing what they are seems a bit silly now.

The dialogue in BEST LINES (above) is grammatically incorrect.

Also, Levine's face doesn't really change that much, he loses his scar and has more hair on his head, but it's still recognisably the same man).

RETROSPECT
The Police Control cameras must use face recognition software. Face transplants are a genuine possibility. Neither of these things existed in 1977.

NOTES
None.

CREDITS
There are no credits printed in the strip itself and so the following are taken from Barney.

Script: Kelvin Gosnell
Artist: Mike McMahon (the last page has a splash by Carlos Ezquerra)
Letters: John Aldrich

Kelvin Gosnell was the editor of 2000 A.D. from Progs 17 to 85. He wrote for Dan Dare, Flesh, A Joe Black Adventure!, One-off, Project Overkill, Ro-Jaws' Robo-Tales, Stainless Steel Rat and fourteen Tharg's Future Shocks. He returned with Alan Grant to write Judge Dredd: The Aggro Dome (Prog #183) and together they wrote Blackhawk under the combined pseudonym of Alvin Gaunt.

John Aldrich provided letters for another eight Judge Dredd strips as well as Ant Wars, Invasion, Dan Dare, Flesh, Tharg's Future Shocks, Harlem Heroes, M.A.C.H. 1, Mean Team, Rogue Trooper, Ro-Jaws' Robo-Tales, Shako, Strontium Dog and The Mind Of Wolfie Smith.

REVIEW
As with Whitey in the first strip, we learn more about the criminals than we do about Dredd. At this point, Dredd's characterisation is like a force of nature. The reduction in the page count from 5 to 4 has little impact. It's pretty slight on story, but the action is impressive and the face parlour technology is interestingly handled.