Friday, 11 January 2013

Judge Dredd: 'Robot Wars', Part 1

Judge Dredd: 'Robot Wars', Part 1

2000 A.D. Programme 10

30 Apr 77

This prog bore a Dredd cover by Carlos Ezquerra, some more of the Flesh card game and Invasion, Dan Dare, Flesh, Harlem Heroes, M.A.C.H.1 strips.

5 (or 4 and a 1/2)

Judge Dredd Annual 1986, Judge Dredd: The Early Cases 1, The Complete Judge Dredd 1 and Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 01

Dredd deals with a robot lawbreaker and considers the implications for humanity.

First first part of a longer story, first appearances of Call-Me-Kenneth and Walter The Wobot.

In Mega-City One, robots do the hard work and their human masters tend to take it easy. Robot conduct is dictated by their programming and the laws of robotics, the third law is to always obey humans. Robots need oil.

Sector 9 of the city features a State Oil Store, the Skyrail and garbage chutes in the streets, marked Keep America Clean.

High explosive ammunition is Setting 5 on a Judge's gun. There are police that aren't Judges and they patrol in hover cars.

The Skyrail gets its power from an overhead cable.

He predicted that robots given emotions would also use those emotions for evil. Dredd is called to the scene of the Call-Me-Kenneth's crime and attempts to reason with the robot. When this doesn't work he blows its head clean off.

A carpenter robot that robs a State Oil Store and kills at least seven. He refers to humans as "Fleshy Ones". He can fire nail from his fingers and has a chainsaw attachment. He wants to rule Mega-City One. Dredd destroys his head with high explosive ammunition, but it doesn't stop him, so the judge electrocutes him and the robot accidentally cuts himself in half with his own chainsaw.

Robot who works in the Justice H.Q. Judges' canteen. He displays today's menu on his screen and features the slogan 'I'm Walter Try Me' on its front. He wants to please. Dredd describes him as "a vending machine robot programmed to be nice to humans!"


The death toll is reported as "at least seven". Call-Me-Kenneth destroys a police hover car containing two police officers and presumably if the explosion doesn't kill them then the fall will. It's unclear who the other five were.

Call-Me-Kenneth: "Now the slave will become the master!"

There are probably better lines, but I like how neatly this sums up the story.

Call-Me-Kenneth: "I have steel appeal!"


Call-Me-Kenneth uses variations on "Fleshy Ones" five times. Walter doesn't have a speech impediment yet.

The strip doesn't refer explicitly to Judge Dredd: 'Robots', but that strip has clearly informed Dredd's opinions.

The three law of robotics were introduced by Isaac Asimov in his 1942 short story Runaround (although see MISTAKES below).

Dredd says that Call-Me-Kenneth has broken the third law of robotics. If the laws in question are still Asimov's then he has actually broken the first.

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Also Call-Me-Kenneth's speech bubbles vary from jagged to normal and back again. On a very minor note, Mega-City One is written without the hyphen once here.

The existence of a State Oil Store proves that either oil didn't run out or they now sell some sort of substitute. It also implies there might still be states, as in United, and of America.

Oddly for the first part of a story, the last caption is a very definite The End.

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

Script: John Wagner
Artist: Carlos Ezquerra
Letters: John Aldrich

Fantastic. The fight between Dredd and Call-Me-Kenneth is engaging and symbolic in a way that similar sequences with Whitey, Scarface or Krong have not been. The only gripe is that we don't get to see the full extent to which robots are integrated into Mega-City One society and therefore we can't fully grasp the scale of the problem at hand. There isn't much indication that this is the first part of a longer story, but instead feels more like another prologue.

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