Monday, 3 June 2013

Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth, Chapter 7 – Night Of The Vampire!

NAME
Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth, Chapter 7 – Night Of The Vampire!

FIRST PUBLISHED
2000 A.D. Prog 67

DATELINE
3 June 78

PAGE COUNT
7

REPRINTS
The Complete Judge Dredd 6, Judge Dredd Epics: The Cursed Earth 1, Judge Dredd Epics: The Cursed Earth, Judge Dredd Epics: The Collected Cursed Earth, Judge Dredd 6 and Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 02.

SYNOPSIS
Dredd attempts to bring a vampire's reign of terror to an end.

FIRSTS & LASTS
First appearance of a vampire and the as-yet-unnamed last president of the USA in Judge Dredd.

INFORMATION
In what used to be the state of Kentucky, the ruins of Fort Knox still stand after it was destroyed by a fusion bomb during the atomic wars. It has been equipped with automatic laser cannons and a trio of Medic Robots to guard both the gold and the last president of the United States of America. One of the Medic Robots has been programmed to collect blood from living individuals as far as fifteen miles away. The process kills the blood donor and leaves two distinct puncture wounds on the neck. This has lead to tales of a vampire that stalks the area.


JUDGE DREDD
He decides to assist Ikkabod in going after the vampire. They head to the vampire's lair at Fort Knox and Dredd disarms its laser cannon defences. He and Spikes are attacked by two of the three Medic Robots.

OTHER CHARACTERS
SPIKES 'HARVEY' ROTTEN
He accompanies Dredd to Fort Knox. He and Dredd are attacked by two of the three Medic Robots.

ELMER
Farmer living fifteen miles south of Fort Knox. He feeds Dredd and his men. When Ikkabod's daughter is killed by the 'vampire' Elmer accompanies his neighbour to Fort Knox to confront it.

IKKABOD
Elmer's neighbour. His daughter is killed when one of the Medic Robots drains her blood. Ikkabod heads to the vampire's lair for revenge.

THE MEDIC ROBOTS
Three Medic Robots who guard the last President of the United States of America. They share a collective personality, but are capable of independent action. One of them drained Ikkabod's daughter of all her blood, but is apparently programmed against its own will and has a concept of human beauty. Later, two of them attack Dredd and Spikes.


ARRESTS
None.

DEATHS
One. Ikkabod's daughter is killed by the vampiric medic robot.

BEST LINES
Ikkabod: "Neighbour Elmer...get thy boys from their beds...we goin' to hunt down an' destroy the vampire once and for all!"
Elmer: "You-you mean it struck again, neighbour Ikkabod?"
Ikkabod: "That it have! My lovely daughter...and not even the garlic protected her!"

WORST LINES
Dredd: "Please explain, citizen."

CATCHPHRASES
Dredd breaks out both a "Stomm!" and a "What the drokk...?"

CONTINUITY & CROSSOVERS
A US President called Bates was mentioned in Judge Dredd: 'You Bet Your Life'.

INFLUENCES & REFERENCES
Vampires appeared in Eastern European folklore long before Western fiction ran with the concept. The most famous works are The Vampyre by John Polidori (1819) and Dracula by Bram Stoker (1987). I can't find any evidence of robotic vampires before the publication of this strip, but the look of the Medic Robots is presumably influenced by Nosferatu (1922).

Fort Knox is a US Military base that was built in 1918. It was used to house the nation's gold bullion and did so successfully enough for the name Fort Knox to become synonymous with secure. The interior as seen here owes a lot to Fort Knox's appearance in Goldfinger (1964).

Elmer was originally a surname, but was adopted as a first name in the United States as a result of the popularity of Ebenezer and Jonathan Elmer, supporters of the American Revolution, although it would be more famous in Britain as a result of Looney Tunes character Elmer Fudd. Ikkabod brings to mind Ichabod Crane from Washington Irving's short story The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow (1820), who was named after a real US Colonel (1787–1857).

MISTAKES
Technically, vittals is incorrect and should be vittles, but since that is itself the incorrect spelling of the word victuals it seems daft to complain about it.

RETROSPECT
Dredd will one day encounter a more traditional interpretation of vampires.

NOTES
None.

CREDITS
Script: Pat Mills
Artist: Mike McMahon
Letters: Tom Frame

REVIEW
The structure of The Cursed Earth is becoming clear: a larger overarching story made up of smaller tales. So after 'the bit with the rats' and 'the bit with the Mutants', here comes 'the bit with the vampire'. These localised stories show us more varied slices of Americana than Mega-City One ever could. A vampire myth that turns out to be a robot is a great idea, but letting the reader in on it and showing how the people of Kentucky could leap to that conclusion is brilliant. Mike McMahon's close-up on Ikkabod is fantastic and Pat Mills' neighbourly dialogue does more to cement the Cursed Earth as a place people actually live than anything that came before it.

Next Prog: The Sleeper Awakes!