Wednesday 30 June 2010

Greg Staples - Hail to the Chief!

Every now and then a cover comes along that makes you gasp, and the cover of Prog 1690 by the amazing Greg Staples did just that! I gasped partly because of how drokking amazing the image is and partly because, after turning the job down so many times, Dredd as Chief Judge is surely something that none of us ever thought we'd ever see!

Staples is an absolute legend who has had a meteoric rise to fame since his first 2000AD cover for the Dredd tale Babes in Arms way back in 1992. Now every cover he does is an 'event' cover and this is certianly no different!

So, here we have the breathtaking inks for the cover of Prog 1690...
And once again the beautiful coloured version...

As well as these, I wanted to show some more of Greg's wonderful work from years gone by, starting with one my my favourite covers ever, the cover of Megazine 2.44 featuring a host of shitbags and events from Dredd's previous adventures...

Another favourite cover of mine is this Frazetta style masterpiece from Megazine 3.63...
And another cover we thought we'd never see - Dredd bonking from Megazine 3.69, Grud on a Greenie!
Another favourite of mine is this festive offering from Christmas 2008, poor Santa...
And a no nonsense gunshark blowing you away cover from 2000AD Prog 1153 proving (yet again) that Greg is the king of cool covers!
As well as painting Dredd, Greg is playing Dredd in the amazing looking fan film Judge Minty. Here's a superb photo of Greg in the role of Dredd...
Everything we've seen of this project to date looks drokking amazing and it's fantastic that one of 2000AD's most respected artists is playing it's greatest character! I can't wait to see it!

Remember you can see more of Greg's sublime work elsewhere in this blog and on his swanky NEW website here. Thanks to Greg for sending the images, they're amazing!

In honour of this amazing cover, I thought it might be fun to have a look at the Chief Judges been and gone to see what could be in store for Dredd should he do the unthinkable and take the role...

The Father of Justice by Carlos Ezquerra

The first Chief Judge was, of course, the great Eustice Fargo, Dredd's clone father and visionary pioneer of the Judicial System of Megacity-One. Fargo created a formidable police force built on impeccable standards of discipline and conduct, including enforced celibacy. Unfortunately, Fargo himself broke this rule and was so ashamed, he attempted to shoot himself, resulting in terrible mental and physical damage. He was put into suspended animation until science was able to cure his terrible wounds only to have his body was stolen by renegade judges who fled to the Cursed Earth.

Years later, during the Origins saga, Dredd recovered Fargo's ravaged, still-sleeping body from the desolate wasteland. He was revived but unfortunately died soon afterwards, though not before telling Dredd that the Justice System had grown to be immoral, begging Dredd to change it from the inside...

Fargo on his deathbed by Carlos Ezquerra

Last words: "My flesh, my Blood... It's not too late! Fix it. Joe! You - You and Rico - You can do it..."

Chief Judge Soloman by Mick McMahon

After Fargo's attempted suicide, the ever so wise and astute Hollins Soloman took over. Soloman's first act as Chief Judge was to fake Fargo's death, making the father of justice a martyr for the fledgling judicial system and gaining public support for the judges' cause. Hollins lasted for six years in the role but endless bickering with congress soon made him weary of the post and he resigned. During his tenure, he sanctioned the freezing of Fargo's deteriorating body until science was advanced enough to cure him, and also denied Morton Judds' ambitious cloning program, making a powerful enemy who would threaten the city years later...

Clarence Goodman by Brian Bolland

Soloman was succeeded by Clarence Goodman, the city's longest ever serving Chief Judge. Goodman, and his newly formed council of five, were instrumental in moulding the course of history during significant political and geographical upheaval in the United States. Such events include the Atom War of 2070, the formation of the three American Megacities, sanctioning human cloning from esteemed judicial stock, averting a civil war with Texas, the first robot war of Megacity One and the 2T(fru)T outbreak in MegaCity Two.

Goodman was a popular figure and a staunch supporter of Dredd. Sadly, after more than forty years in office, he was brutally murdered on the orders of the notorious Judge Cal.
The assassination of Goodman by Mick McMahon

Final Words: "Put away those knives. You're breaking the law!"

A hidden panel by Mick McMahon from the amazing collection of Rufus Dayglo

Most infamous of all chief judges was the deranged Judge Cal, who tyrannical reign saw some of the cities' darkest days. Head of the SJS, Cal assumed the position of Chief Judge by framing Dredd for murder and ordering the assassination of Chief Judge Goodman. Once in power, he used hypnosis to brainwash the judges to carry out his orders before terrorising the city with his ever more insane schemes. These included making his goldfish Deputy Chief Judge, building a huge wall to keep citizens trapped within the city, hiring an alien race of mercenaries known as the Kleggs to help in his oppression of the citizens before finally sentencing the entire city to death. Dredd, with the help of a rag tag bunch of Judges, Judge Tutors and an Undercity dweller known as Fergee, eventually overthrew the maniacal dictator.
"Bloop!" Deputy Chief Judge Fish by Brian Bolland

Last words: "I only have to command and our fall will stop! Observe mortals! Observe my powers! STOP!"

Judge Griffin by Brian Bolland

Following Cal's reign, the shamed judges begged Dredd to be Chief Judge. Dredd flatly refused, claiming his place was on the streets. Instead he suggested that Judge Griffin, former principal of the Accademy of Law, take the role. Griffin's time as chief was fairly short, but extremely eventful. Following the Blockmania epidemic he was captured by invading Sov forces and brainwashed to be used as a propeganda tool for the invading Soviet army during the Apocalypse War. Dredd himself infiltrated the Sov base and assassinated his former mentor.

Last Words: "I-I've betrayed my city! I deserve to die!"

After the dust had settled on the Apocalypse War, head of the SJS Hilda Margaret McGruder was the figurehead of the Justice System. A strong and capable leader, she began the difficult task of rebuilding the decimated city. Four years into the job, McGruder hesitated to stop the muderous actions of an evil, very powerful psychic from the Radlands of Ji. This cost the lives of many citizens and judges for which McGruder blamed herself. Unwilling to carry on as Chief Judge, McGruder turned her back on the city and took the long walk into the Cursed Earth...
McGruder by Cam Kennedy

Last Words #1 "It'll be good to see some action again. Still, I'm going miss it!"

Chief Judge Thomas Silver by Cliff Robinson

Before leaving, McGruder appointed the esteemed Judge Thomas Silver onto the council of five and it's members quickly appointed him Chief Judge. A right wing hardliner, Silver ruled with a rod of iron, focusing particular attention on crushing the growing democracy movement. This included putting Dredd in charge of subverting the Democratic March of 2109. Dredd's questionable actions that day left a bitter taste in his mouth that would eventually grow to significant doubts in the Justice system that he'd held so dear. Dredd's misgivings finally consumed him when a young boy was murdered by a man who had been mentally damaged as a result of the brutality shown at the march. Dredd took the long walk, turning his back on a system he no longer believed in.

One of Dredd's final acts before leaving the city was to fail a young cadet known as Kraken in his final assessment. Kraken was a clone of Judge Fargo who had been part of a twisted cult known as the Judda, led by the evil Morton Judd. Silver ordered a cover up Dredd's departure and repealed his judgement of Kraken. He made the young judge to take the mantle of Dredd, fearing that the Justice Dept would lose respect if the citizens knew Dredd had gone.

Years of twisting and indoctrination of Kraken's psyche had left his mind vulnerable and open to suggestion. This was exploited when the great city was attacked by the powerful, supernatural Sisters of Death, who made the young judge a puppet to their evil schemes. Kraken was made to help the sisters form a psychic bride to the MegaCity and also release the four dark judges, bringing on the tragedy known as Necropolis.

Sensing that his city was in great danger, Dredd returned to see if he could help. On the way, he met a mad old crone who turned out to be none other than former Chief Judge McGruder. Together they saved the city and in the absence of Chief Judge, McGruder reclaimed the role.

This lady's not for turning! McGruder by Carlos Ezquerra

However, some weeks later, the reanimated corpse of former Chief Judge Silver returned to the city and challenged McGruder to the position of Chief Judge. He told Dredd how he had been killed again and again by Judge Death and had fled when the crisis was averted. Dredd convicted Silver of gross dereliction of duty and sentenced him to death, finally putting to rest one of MegaCity-One's most deeply flawed chief judges.

The Undead Silver by Carlos Ezquerra

Last Words: "No! Not... Please, don't kill me...! Pleassse!"

McGruder's second tenure as chief judge ran anything but smoothly, her erratic behaviour and deteriorating mental health resulting in several clashes with Dredd. Most notably, her unwavering support of the controversial Mechanismo project, where the streets would be partly policed by robotic judges, caused irreparable damage to her and Dredd's strained relationship. This culminated in Dredd's spectacular arrest for perjury and criminal damage as he had played an instrumental part in the destruction of a rogue Mechanismo unit.

In a petulant act of malice, McGruder chose to take Dredd to the prison planet of Titan herself, following a trip to a recently discovered planet known as Hestia. In her absence, McGruder left the ambitious head of Tek Division and the Mechanismo project Judge Greel in charge of the city. During the disastrous off-world trip, one of the robotic judges attempted to assassinate McGruder, and though never proven, it was widely believed that Greel had something to do with the plot. He was ignobly demoted to traffic controller where he could do no further harm...

Following the events on Hestia, McGruder finally accepted that her judgement was flawed and resigned. This time she declined to take the long walk, instead choosing to embark on a lecture tour to promote her book, McGruder - The Downing Street... oops, I mean McGruder - The Justice Years. Several years later, suffering heavily from dementia, Dredd took McGruder into the Cursed Earth on one final mission, choosing to give her a heroes death just minutes before her scheduled trip to the euthanasium.

Death of a Legend by Peter Doherty

Last Words#2 "They were -cough- going to... going to kill us you know..."

The resignation of McGruder led to the judicial election of 2116, where, in the absence of a Council of Five (McGruder had dissolved it), four hundred senior judges would vote for the next Chief Judge. To the surprise of many, Dredd himself stood for election, as did Judges Hershey and Volt among others. However, it transpired that Dredd's involvement in the election was a simply ruse to expose a corrupt SJS judge who was using his position to discredit the other judges running for office.

Once the perpetrator was apprehended, Dredd contined to stand for office, though was soundly beaten in the vote by Judge Hadrian Volt who got 208 votes as compared to Dredd's 130. Dredd knew he wouldn't win, and had voted for Volt himself, believing him to be the right man for the job. Of his defeat, Dredd said "I've put too many noses out of joint in my time to win a popularity contest."
Generally, Volt was an excellent chief judge who made a variety of sound, sweeping reforms. He re-established the council of five and introduced a Deputy Chief Judge role to the department to ensure that there was a mechanism to legally remove any chief judge who was deemed unfit to rule. In previous years, the image of the Justice Deparment had been severely tarnished following catastrophies such as the reign of Cal, the judges actions during the Necropolis crisis and the farcical rule McGruder. To reconcile this, a degree of political power was shifted back to an elected body of citizens as well as the opportunity for citizens to elect a major. Volt's tenure lasted for five years but was tragically cut short when he commited suicide at the conclusion of the second robot war as he blamed himself for not averting the crisis.

(Justice Dept. Approved) Last Words: "It's customary to knock!"
Actual Last Words "Yes. Thank you. Keep me informed."

Hershey by Brian Bolland

Volt was succeeded by Judge Barbara Hershey who had been Deputy Chief Judge, and she was soon voted into office. A respected judge from an early age, Hershey had spent many years serving on the council of five and was known to be level headed, if a little left wing. Her period in office lasted nine years but she was eventually voted out for supporting Dredd's infamous Anti-Mutant Laws.

Last Words "Goodbye. Good luck."

The ever popular Dan Francisco by Rufus Dayglo

Hershey was replaced by Judge Dan Francisco, a popular Street Judge and star of reality Tri-Vid show, The Streets of Dan Francisco. Francisco was backed by a manipulative cabal of senior judges who used the star's popularity to remove Hershey from office and repeal the unpopular mutant laws. During his campaign, Francisco was almost fatally wounded by a group of mutant terrorists (who themeslves had been manipulated by an anti-mutant group), giving the popular candidate yet more support and ensuring he won the election by a landslide.

Francisco's injuries were severe and, when his body had rejected a set of prosthetic lungs, power passed to Deputy Chief Judge Martin Sinfield. A corrupt, petty and power-hungry individual, Sinfield ensured that Dredd and those closest to him were exiled to the Cursed Earth and that Hershey was posted off-planet. Then, during a hospital visit, Sinfield drugged Francisco with the powerful mind control drug SLD 88, advising him to resign and pass power to himself.
Boooo! The power crazed Martin Sinfield by Colin MacNeil

Last Words "I hope you're happy Dredd! You got what you wanted! You're the real criminal! You're to blame for all this! One day they'll get wise to you! They'll see you for what you are!"

From his remote posting in the Cursed Earth, Dredd continually clashed with the new chief judge, eventually challenging his authority and running against him in a recall election. However, during the build up to an election, Sinfield's transgressions were discovered and he was sentenced to twenty years hard labour on Titan.

Francisco was returned to office and he insisted that Dredd joined the Council of Five, leading to yet another fascinating development in the life of MegaCity One's premier judge! How long will Francisco last? Will Dredd be instrumental in his downfall as he has been with so many others in the role?

1 comment:

  1. A thoroughly enjoyable read there Pete, made all the more interesting with the choice of pictures that you added.
    Well done!