Dredd Mondays, #1854

2000AD comes out every Wednesday, featuring four-five different stories in each issue, which are serialised to each run over the course of a month or two. There are usually a whole range of different stories in each issue – but one thing that’s guaranteed is that each issue kicks off with some Judge Dredd.

That in mind, every Monday I’ll be looking back on the previous week’s issue of 2000AD, to see what’s currently going on in the Dredd story; which creators are currently in control; and if it’s any cop.

Prog #1854 features the fourth part of the ‘New Tricks’ storyline, which is set under the city. And this week’s issue carries the mission statement for the story as a whole, featuring an extended satirical monologue (everything in Judge Dredd is a satire, don’t forget) which hits at a few of the more notable themes within the franchise.

In it, a character essentially persuades an army of slaves that they should serve him, because he is the least slave-y of all their options. The society ruled over by the Judges punishes people harshly, with zero tolerance for any kind of rule breaking. And whilst the underground society also punishes people for breaking the rules – there’s only one rule underground. So by that reasoning, they should all choose to stay underground and fight against any attack from above.

The Judges are never painted as being heroes – they’re fascists. So that difference between fascism and slavery painted in the speech is a really interesting one, and a curious thing to look into. It’s essentially paraphrasing the sort of aggrandizing nonsense spouted by papers like The Daily Mail, and their intention of making people feel fearful by talking about all the things ‘other’ people want them to feel fearful of.

The speech in this prog makes note of the idea that in society, people were scared of the thought they might break a rule, because there are so many rules nowadays. To my mind, this is referencing the ‘PC agenda’ which The Mail (or to use an American version, Fox News) have wholesale invented to make people feel aggrieved for having to be nice to people of different cultures. As Britain has moved on as a society from blunt-force Catholicism and embraced other cultures, religions, that sort of thing, so the rules of society have moved to allow tolerance of other people from outside the UK.

Which has made people – mostly lazy ones – feel entitled. And it’s that sense of entitlement which has allowed properties like The Mail to exploit people’s ignorances and laziness for their own benefit. That’s what’s happening in the story this week, in the prog. The speech-giver immediately, once he has the mob on his side, turns and uses them to grab power for himself. In that same movement, you see just the point that writer Michael Carroll is making in his story.

Dredd’s done a rather fantastic job at remaining relevant to the updating of society over the years. This speech in prog 1854 speaks to that, and hints at an interesting storyline to come.

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