Bloodline: Part One - Rico & Joe Dredd: Brothers-with-arms!
With recent posts about Rico Dredd, evil clone-brother of Joe, and his biological daughter, Vienna, now seemed the perfect time to start a Tumblr history of Mega-City OneJustice Dept. and in particular the cloning process, using DNA from the City’s first great Judges - especially that of Chief-Judge Eustace Fargo, the ‘Father of Justice’, and his undiluted gene pool, or ‘bloodline’.
Scheduled for three parts, this first instalment deals with two of those experimental clones, twin boys, christened Joe & Rico. Now read on…
To deal with the ever expanding population of mid-twenty first century America, great Mega-Cities began to spring up, the largest of all these,Mega-City One covered the entire Eastern Seaboard, stretching from Toronto,on the border with Canadia in the north, down to Florida in the South.
Unsurprisingly crime has now reached epidemic proportions, and a solution was needed to deal with the problem. Enter the Judges, an elite order of crime-fighters trained from the age of five in the Academy of Law, imbued with the power to be judge, jury and executioner. The greatest of them all is..Judge Dredd
Taken from genetic material belonging to “Father of Justice”, Chief Judge Eustace Fargo, great things are expected of clones Joseph and Rico Dredd (so named to instill fear in the minds of the citizenry).
Speeding up the development process so that the clones emerge from their growth tanks after sixteen months as fully formed five-year olds, enables them to be readied sooner for life on the streets as a Mega-City Judge.
As one would expect heralding from such fine genetic stock, the clone-brothers excel at the Academy of Law.
They perform so exceptionally, that during the turmoil of the Atomic Wars of 2070 (four years after their emergence from the cloning tanks) they are assigned to protect their clone-father, Chief Judge Fargo, himself.
Deposing President Robert L. “Mad Bob” Booth, the Judges are now in sole command of MC-1 and the clones’ development continues apace
However, during their Hotdog Run (Cadet Judges’ mandatory assessment in the Cursed Earth radiation desert, or other hazardous locations, outside the environs of Mega-City One), Rico suffers a fractured skull, a broken arm, and possible radiation poisoning whilst awaiting rescue at the bottom of a chemical pit, into which he had fallen.
Possibly due to his accident, subjection to a high radiation count, or perhaps just a fault in the genes (the usually impeccably moral Fargowas fallible),Cadet Rico began to exhibit displays of excessive violence, and an absolute desire to be better than his clone-brother. Even resorting to calling DreddLittle Joe and himself Big Rico, in reference to the fact that he had been the first out of the growth tanks-by all of twelve minutes!
The Dredd clones passed their final assessment with the highest ever scores at the Academy of Law, but Rico’s behaviour was getting worse and it had drawn the attention of the Judges‘ Review Board.
Rico was returning too high a body count, with complaints of assault, arrestees beaten up in custody, as well as the mysterious disappearance of his passing Judge, Kenner.
Rico had taken for himself a luxury apartment, unthinkable for today’s Judges but overlooked back then ,owing to his genetic-stock and a generally looser judicial climate, before things tightened up under Chief Judge Goodman.
Dredd was sent to talk to his clone-brother, hoping this could salvage what was becoming an increasingly embarrassing situation.
However, when Joe reached the apartment things had gotten worse than anyone could have imagined; Rico had taken to living with a woman, and was drinking heavily; both completely against Judicial regulations.
Outraged Joe tells Rico that he must do something about his lifestyle, or he will do it for him, to which his clone just brushes off, stating that he was a Judge and could do what he wanted.
Not one for letting matters slide, Joe sits outside Rico’s apartment to await developments. He doesn’t have to wait long. Aware that his clone probably knows of his presence, Dredd follows Rico on a shocking tour of corruption and criminal enterprise.
When Joe finally catches up, Rico is not surprised to see his clone; knowing this confrontation was inevitable he offers Joe a chance to join him in his criminal endeavours. Dredd,of course was never going to accept, and when Rico shoots a citizen in cold blood, who is unable to pay him protection, he has no alternative but to apprehend his clone-brother. Rico however, has no intention of being arrested, seemingly intent on a showdown; having always been the better shot, and with the quicker draw it appears there can only be one outcome. Surprisingly, even though Rico draws first, his aim is off.
Dredd takes him down with a punch, and the fate reserved for all ‘bent’ Judges awaits the misguided clone - twenty years in the penal colony on Saturn’s moon,Titan!
Dredd surmises that his clone realised something was wrong, disgusted by what he had become, and faced with Titan ,Big Rico/em> hoped Little Joe would be forced to kill him in a shoot out, not expecting that he would be taken alive.
Twenty years of suffering in the cold blackness of space, mutilated by surgery to survive the conditions, Rico harboured a festering hatred for his ‘perfect’ twin, counting down the days before he returned to Earth.
Arriving back on-planet, Rico Dredd has one thought on his mind: vengeance! Discovering Judge Dredd’s apartment, Rico uses their unique genetic imprint to gain access, ties up Joe’s landlady, Maria (later re-imagined without her appearance), changing the atmosphere and temperature to mimic those of Titan, then lies in wait for his hated clone to arrive.
Joe learns of Rico’s return and hurrying to make his appointment with destiny, rushes to his apartment.
On arrival Rico gets the drop on Joe, having always been the best on a stake-out, once again challenging his clone-brother to draw, this time even though he was aiming to kill, Rico has lost that crucial split-second reflex after twenty years on Titan, and to his disbelief Joe fires first, mortally wounding him.
As Rico lays dying, Joe relates that sending him to Titan was the hardest moment of his life and he has carried the guilt and grief everywhere, as if a part of him inside had died.
Rico gasps out the reply that, “there might just..be hope for you yet, Joe..” When other Judges arrive on the scene, Dredd refuses their help to carry Rico’s body, insisting, with the immortal line: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother!”