Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Judge Dredd: 'Videophones'

And so after a little diversion we return to Judge Dredd where we left him...

NAME
Judge Dredd: 'Videophones'

FIRST PUBLISHED
2000 A.D. Annual 1978

DATELINE
1st September, 1977 (this date is from Barney)

This hardcover annual featured a Dan Dare cover by Gerry Woods and also contained Dan Dare, Flesh, Harlem Heroes, Invasion, Shako strips, a One-off called The Smith Family - Death Bug, a pair of M.A.C.H.1 strips, no less than five of Tharg's Future Shocks and another Judge Dredd strip called 'Whitey's Brother'.

PAGE COUNT
6

REPRINTS
Judge Dredd: The Restricted Files 01

SYNOPSIS
Dredd tracks down a killer who is hypnotising Judges to commit his murders for him.

FIRSTS & LASTS
This is the first time that a Judge commits a crime (albeit unwittingly) and also the first time two Judge Dredd strips were printed in the same publication.

INFORMATION
In Mega-City One, Complex Omega is a residential area containing at least 43021 Apartments.

Deep Psyche Hypnosis is a subliminal form of visual communication, which coerces an individual into performing a specified action. The message can be delivered via videophone. It was banned by international convention fifty years ago (circa 2049), because there is no technique capable of combating it.

Auto-Cooks are home convenience that provide nutritious food-packs.

Named Judges: Judge Steele.

JUDGE DREDD
He lives at Apartment 43021 in Complex Omega, Mega-City One. When Judge Steele murders four Judges, Dredd kills him in self-defence and when it is revealed that Steele was under Deep Psyche Hypnosis, Dredd investigates and discovers that the hypnotic suggestions were deleivered via videophone. He records a hologrammic image of himself to fool whoever is targeting Judges and arranges to have his calls traced. He tracks the call to Igor Sanksy.

OTHER CHARACTERS
THE CHIEF JUDGE
He calls a meeting to discuss the latest crime statistics.

JUDGE STEELE
He kills four Judges with a ricochet bullet under the control of Igor Sansky's Deep Psyche Hypnosis.

MARIA
She usually finishes cleaning Dredd's apartment in the afternoons, while he is at work. She is very proud of her lasagne and spaghetti bolognese.

IGOR SANSKY
Dredd describes him as "the original mad scientist". He regards himself as having "perfected" the hologram projector. He was believed killed by a Judge, but instead was confined to a chair. He tries to kill Dredd using Deep Psyche Hypnosis via the videophone, but Dredd fools him with his hologram ruse. Dredd has the call traced and visits Sansky's home and he tries to kill Dredd again, whereupon Dredd electrocutes his with a loose live wire.

ARRESTS
None.

DEATHS
Six. Steele kills four Judges with a ricochet bullet and Dredd shoots Steele dead. Dredd later electrocutes Igor Sansky.

BEST LINES
Operator (caught in an embrace with a co-worker): "Oh! Er-sorry, sir. I-er-didn't realise my call switch was still on. You won't tell the supervisor?"

WORST LINES
Dredd: "I'm gonna nail this bum - and fast!"

Unfortunate.

CATCHPHRASES
Not much, Maria reveals her accent with a "coulda", but that's about the it.

CONTINUITY & CROSSOVERS
Although not explicitly named as such, holograms were last seen in Judge Dredd: 'Krong'. There was a Judge Steele listed as Lost In Action in Judge Dredd: 'The Academy Of Law', Part 1, so this strip could well be set before that.

INFLUENCES & REFERENCES
Brainwashing assassins and subliminal messaging brings to mind The Manchurian Candidate (1962).

MISTAKES
None.

RETROSPECT
None.

NOTES
None.

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

Script: Malcolm Shaw
Artist: Mike McMahon
Letters: Unknown

REVIEW
This is pretty bad. Upon first reading I assumed that Maria's involvement was meant to show that the hologrammic Dredd is indistinguishable from the original, but it would seem that the hologram isn't involved until after Dredd speaks to the operator, which renders her whole appearance pointless.

The lettering is dreadful and the artwork is very odd. The Deep Psyche Hypnosis panels look great, but are both disingenuous. The first implies Dredd and the Chief Judge are being watched when they aren't, while the second shows the effect the process probably shouldn't have on a hologram. It's unfortunate that on the first page, Steele looks less like he's gone mad and like he is in dire need of a wee.