“Lucie, there’s a lot of darkness out there. But you know something? We wouldn’t notice any of it, if it weren’t for all those little pinpricks of light – planets and stars. And that’s where I go whenever I feel sad, the next bit of light in the darkness.” – The Eighth Doctor, “The Scapegoat”, Big Finish Audios, written by Pat Mills and directed by Nicholas Briggs
A Short History of Female Judges in Judge Dredd from 1979 to 1982
Or alternatively, this is what happens when a friendly chat with a pal gets way out of hand.
About a month ago a swedish friend and I were discussing Judge Dredd and for some reason that I can’t even begin to fathom, the conversation turned to female judges. Eventually the question of who was the first female judge to appear in the strip popped out, and what followed was a two-pronged archeology labor through Case Files and Progs that yielded some interesting results. For clarity’s sake I’m only gonna be referring to the main progs here, no annuals or yearbooks included, but I’ll be happy to make a separate post for them if the need arises. So without further ado, let’s take a trip to the late 1970s and talk about ladies in leather for a while, shall we?
Perhaps the definitive version of the (mostly!) heroic war droids, and the most recent, is Clint Langley’s CG run, beginning with the Volgan War books [Vols. 1-4] from 2007.
It seems obvious now because we are so familiar with Langley’s art, but this new digital style was perfect for these iconic machines, and the artist had some pretty big boots to fill - with Mick McMahon, Dave Gibbons, Kev O’Neill, Simon Bisley, Brett Ewins, Carlos Ezquerra, Brendan McCarthy, Kev Walker & others adding to the pantheon of great artists on this fan-favourite series.
Anyway, with writer and creator Pat Mills, the Langley art droid has left his own indelible mark on this classic strip, and incredibly over recent years has made it his own..
From top - the original ‘Mek-nificent Seven’:
Hammerstein [Mk. III] - Heroic war droid & leader of the Warriors, the ultimate soldier and his predecessors were the original robotic soldiers, built by the industrialist, and later cyborg, ‘Mr. Ten per-Cent’, Howard Quartz.
(General) Blackblood - Treacherous coward & former head of enemy Volgan army shock troops, the ‘Straw Dogs’.
Deadlock - Enigmatic, Grand Wizard of the mysterious Knights Martial, disciples of Khaos and practitioners of the Dark Arts!
Happy Shrapnel - aka Tubal Cain, ‘The Mekanik’. Happy was thought to have been killed when the Warriors first went to Mars, instead he stayed on the Red Planet becoming a champion of the native Martians, and Medusa: the spirit of he planet itself.
Joe Pineapples - The galaxy’s greatest assassin, elite sniper and effortlessly cool - although even he has skeletons in his closet!
Mongrol - Huge, ape-like, formerly monosyllabic beast, Mongrol regained his voice after he shared a body with Morrigun - the only female Warrior, another disciple of Khaos
- who died on Mars, leaving her secrets with the giant droid..
Steelhorn - Once known as the greatest war droid ever built, he was betrayed by his human creators after the end of the first Volgan war - tricked into entering a giant smelter, he was melted down into molten slag, however due to his force of will he retained his sentience, becoming ‘The Mess’! Left on Mars his liquid form was injected into the body of a giant robot guardian named George, and then after connecting with Medusa - Mars’ planetary consciousness - rebuilt his old magnificent body.
Reserve Warriors and Associates:
Ro-Jaws - Foul-mouthed sewer droid, F.R.E.D. 2L, better known as Ro-Jaws, served in Ro-Busters, Howard Quartz’ robotic disaster relief squad alongside a decommissioned war droid called Hammer-Stein, so when Nemesis the Warlock was reforming the Warriors he gave this crude little droid a place!
Mek-Quake - A particularly unpleasant mekanoid who originally inhabited the chassis of a huge bulldozer as part of Ro-Busters, responsible for disciplining unruly robots - a job he still fulfills for Tharg the Mighty when his droids step out of line, as yours truly can testify! - but joined the Warriors at the insistence of Nemesis the Warlock, in the classic “Black Hole” storyline.
Zippo - aka ‘Agent Orange’ was formerly a flame-throwing special forces soldier who worked behind enemy lines in the Volgan war, but has aided most of the ABC Warriors at some point in their careers, often leaving them with an inscribed cigarette lighter.
Just released from our Thrill-vaults in this 304-page pulse-pounding collection, are everyone’s favourite war droids: the Atomic, Bacterial, Chemical-proof A.B.C. Warriors.
Beautifully bound in a stunning hardback edition; for the first time, all of the full-colour splash pages and double-page spreads have been lovingly reproduced, as they were originally published.
Covering the Warriors very first missions, their initial formation, the taming of the Red Planet (Mars), and their return to Earth (Termight) in the Simon Bisley/SMS classic, The Black Hole, this wonderful collection also includes gorgeous pin-ups and a cover gallery, from some of the industry’s most respected talents, including:
Carlos Ezquerra (Judge Dredd), Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), Brendan McCarthy (Skin), Mick McMahon (Slaine), Kevin O'Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and Simon Bisley (Lobo).
Superb re-styling and colouring for this glorious graphic novel cover - ABC Warriors: The Mek Files 01 from fan-favourite art droid, Mick McMahon.
Very first ABC Warriors cover feat. General Blackblood & original line-up - Prog 125 (11Aug'79) - Mick McMahon(a).
Original line-up: Joe Pineapples, Happy Shrapnel, Deadlock, Hammerstein, Mongrol & ’The Mess‘ (formerly Steelhorn), and Blackblood - Dave Gibbons(a); the Warriors working for Nemesis the Warlock must save Termight (Earth, thousands of years in the future), from the Warlock’s son, Thoth, who wants revenge on the planet’s despotic ruler, Torquemada for killing his mother, by collapsing an artificial interstellar warp tunnel in nearby space, in the classic adventure, The Black Hole (Progs555-581,2Jan-2Jul'88) - line-up inc. Ro-Jaws & Mek-Quake replacing Happy Shrapnel and ’The Mess’ - Simon Bisley.
Stunning cover art - Prog 577(4Jun'88) - feat. enigmatic spiritual ABC leader, Deadlock, Grand Wizard of the Knights Martial - Simon Bisley(a).
Square-jawed, heroic, uptight military leader of the Warriors, Sergeant Hammerstein: a robot designed solely for combat, his chest-plate built to swell with pride when victorious in battle, has started to question his role after centuries of endless,futile war! - Simon Bisley(a)
The polar opposite of his uptight commander, the effortlessly cool assassin and deadly sniper, Joe Pineapples is seemingly unflappable, there are however, one or two skeletons in Joe’s well-stocked closet! - StarScan: Prog 571(23Apr'88) - Simon Bisley(a).
Before joining the Warriors, Mongrol roamed the Volgan countryside looking for revenge on the hated Volgs, who killed the woman that saved and rebuilt him, his beloved Lara - Mick McMahon(a)/ Happy Shrapnel was a tough, grizzled, veteran war droid, but as the only survivor of 'H’ Day and one too many sentences of “electro-discipline” he’d been left with faulty circuits and a speech defect - Kevin O'Neill(a)
The magnificent Steelhorn, once the greatest robot ever built, became a pacifist after destroying the Volgan leader Marshal Volgod, and ending the Volgan war. His creators couldn’t allow this and tricked him into entering a fusion furnace, smelting him down to molten steel. However, Steelhorn’s desire to live was too strong, turning him into a living liquid metal, also known as ’The Mess’! - Brendan McCarthy(a).
Mind-bending, eye-popping art, in this stunning tribute to MC Escher, as the A.B.C Warriors get lost in one of the chambers of the old Emperor Zalinn’s tomb, in the Time Wastes at the core of Termight - From somewhat over-looked enigma, the mysterious SMS, co-art droid, on classic Thrill, The Black Hole!
Wonderfully evocative cover - Prog 556 (9Jan'88), that marked the start of the ground-breaking ABC Warriors adventure, The Black Hole - Simon Bisley(a).
A beaten Sláine, knelt at the feet of his opponent - the arrogant berserkerHengwulf - decides he must fight back when his bitter rival offers him mercy…if he will only kiss the Saxon’s foot!
Still suffering from the effects of Queen Guinevere’s curse, this final indignity seems to snap Sláine out of his malaise, causing him to mount one last effort.
Both combatants clash fiercely for sometime, until, at last they are forced to rest, finally, both suffering from Guinevere’s enchantment, the two sworn enemies realise they cannot continue in this manner, so declare a truce to combine forces to retrieve the queen’s Magic Mirror, breaking her spell, and securing this next Treasure for themselves.
Meanwhile Sláine’s un-faithful sidekick, Ukko the Dwarf (who has been trying to catch the Celtic warrior’s attention since the fight began) advises his companion to don the Green Knight’s Helmet that was given to him by Morgaine at the start of his quest, in a bid to restore his lost energy.
Instantly Sláine is revitalised, but instead of gratitude Ukko receives a customary smack round the head..for not venturing the information sooner!
Such is the power of the Helm, that Hengwulf too is reinvigourated, and the pair go off in search of the next Treasure Of Britain, each vowing to kill the other when the truce is over!
Top: Title page feat. evil Cythron leader, the Guledig! - Dermot Power(a).
Sláine - the Green Knight - has been brought down in battle, by the SaxonHengwulf, due to the Curse of Camelot, put on King Arthur’s court by his Queen, Guinevere, he is offered mercy by Hengwulf, providing he kiss the Saxon’s feet! - Dermot Power(a).
Sláine decides against kissing the feet of the Saxon bully, Hengwulf, grabbing instead the berserker’s heel and flipping him on his head, starting an epic battle ending in a truce to defeat Guinevere together and steal her Enchanted Looking-Glass, thus breaking the curse - Dermot Power(a).
Sláine, wearing the Green Knight’s Helmet with uneasy ally, Saxon berserkerHengwulf, breaks into the Queen’s castle and confronts her in her bed chambers, informing Guinevere that he has come for the mirror, she is no longer worthy of it. The Cythron controlling her reveals itself and attempts to kill Sláine but Arthur sees it also and finally realises the truth about his Queen. Sláine takes the mirror - the curse is finally broken and Arthur begins to wake from his “sleep”.. Power(a).
Morgaine congratulates her Green Knight and tells Sláine of the next Treasure: The Tooth of White Tusk the Orc King. However this one cannot be gathered by a hero, it must be obtained by a fool and a coward- in other words...Ukko! - Power(a).
Ukko succeeds in his mission, whilst Morgaine prevents Sláine interfering by occupying his thoughts with dreams of a heroic quest. Then they must complete their final task - to find the Blood of the Black Sorceress from the Source of the Stream Of Sorrow! - Power(a).
Once again Ukko’s unique ‘talents’ are needed to concoct this mixture on the physical plane, whilst Sláine journeys to the spiritual realm, where he must rescue the Young Arthur from the Guledig, who holds him prisoner - Power(a).
Sláine and Ukko are triumphant, and as the Green Knight or Gwalchmai, our hero(es) deliver the Blood of the Black Sorceress to Morgaine La Fee on the Holy Isle of Avalon where King Arthur resides in his withered, forgotten state. Morgaine gives the Blood to her lost little brother, Arthur, restoring him as the Once and Future King, inspiration for generations to come as the greatest hero of all time, ever ready to once again rule the land in it’s hour of need..
As reward for reuniting the Thirteen Treasures Of Britain, Sláine is allowed to choose one of these priceless artifacts, but which one?
The Cauldron Of Rebirth - That feeds all who come before it
The Pavilion Of Peredur - That heals all wounds of those who enter
The Sword Excalibur - The legendary sword that can cut through stone
The Spear Of The Dolorous Blow - That is ever alive and thirsty for slaughter
The Stone Of Destiny - That cries aloud when the true King sits upon it
The Golden Siege Perilous - Seat of the Once and Future King
The Dragon Cloak Of Invisibility - The name says it all!
The Silver Chessboard Of Gwenddolau - It’s exquisitely crafted pieces magically move themselves
The Scrying Mirror Of Guinevere - That shows all events past, present and future
The Tooth Of White Tusk, The Orc King - Capable of bringing laughter and frivolity to times of hopelessness and despair
The Blood Of The Black Sorceress - Able to heal your body as well as your spirit
The Ring Of Rhonabwy - The Red & White Dragon of Celt and Saxon intertwined, symbolising power to all men
The Helmet Of The Green Knight - That gives it’s wearer extreme strength and power
10. Sláine has no doubt about which Treasure he’ll choose, the choice is obvious to him (much to the greedy Ukko’s horror!) - the Helmet of the Green Knight, perfect for the former Horned God, and one-time Robin Goodfellow, Champion of the Earth Goddess - and it is to the Goddess Danu he must return, and as a wormhole opens for Sláine and Ukko, Morgaine leaves the hero a passionate kiss, as a final parting gift - they just have time to look back at King Arthur’s Golden Siege Perilous, where once more bluebells are growing at it’s base…