Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Judge Dredd: Trifecta (2000AD #1803-1812) PART TWO

"I think Mega-City just got replaced" - Acting Chief Judge Hershey

So, where were we?  This is part two of my look at the collected 2000AD storylines that make up the Trifecta book.  Highlighting the three most popular lawmen in Mega-City One, Judge Dredd, Jack "The Simping Detective" Point and Low Life's Dirty Frank. The crossover started with three individual stories for each character which I looked at the majority of in the first post on this volume.  The Simping Detective's "Jokers To The Right"; Low Life's "Saudade" and Judge Dredd's "The Cold Deck". This second post will cover the rest of the individual storylines and the final merged story "Trifecta".  The stories are connected by one main thread, a file is stolen from the Justice Department computers, it contains the list of all the undercover "Wally Squad" Judges currently in operation in the city.  First it is passed to Jack Point, who is left with no option but to sell it on for five million creds before attempting to flee offworld. It is sold onto a crazy sharkheaded businessman called Mr. Overdrive who is building a secret city on the moon, and it is here that Dirty Frank found himself a fully paid up member of Overdrive Inc's board but his cover has been blown and he's been captured.  Judge Dredd for reasons yet unknown allowed the file to be transferred to the moon, and his enemy within the department - the head of Black Ops, Judge Bachmann - is going to have her Judges massacre the Wally Squad to have a nice juicy tragedy that can be blamed on Dredd and consolidate her power grab for The Wally Squad and other undercover departments.  However there seems to be a mystery person pulling the strings of our three heroes, revealed only as someone sipping tea and dunking biscuits...

The Judge Dredd story is written by Al Ewing and the art is by Henry Flint.  The Simping Detective is written by Simon Spurrier and has art by Simon Colby and Low Life is written by Rob Williams and has art by D'Israeli.  For the final united storyline, all three writers are credited while the full colour art is by Carl Critchlow.  The front cover to this lovely hardback edition is a lenticular one which shows Judge Dredd and when tilted Dirty Frank and Jack Point appear reflected in his visor. And big thanks again to my very good pal Lucy who lent me this book and is a walking repository of all knowledge 2000AD.
The oranges of Dirty Frank
There is a flashback to when Dirty Frank was rescued are a mission on an ice planet went wrong in a call back to one of his stories in Mega-City Undercover 2: Living The Low Life.  He has lost his eye.  The mysterious tea drinker is there, he strokes Frank's face and says "you were the only one to make it back.  I'm very proud of you".  And he smiles.  Frank rambles about seeing a snowflake, he can still see it even though his eyes are covered.  The strange man says:

Mysterious Man: "You know if an individual makes the total decision to become someone else. There is really no need to remember who one was previously.  Or what one saw.  Wally Squad. I think Judge Frank I could use someone in Wally Squad."

We then return to the present.  Frank has been stripped to his undies and his arms manacled above his head. Mr. Overdrive is vexed that they have been torturing him for almost a day "and still not crying.  It's undermining my enormous position of authority."  Frank is zapped again and Mr. Overdrive demands to know who Frank is as he is not on the list and did spend millions to join Overdrive Inc.

Mr. Overdrive: "Who sent you? WHY ARE YOU HERE!"

Frank: "Genuinely haven't a clue chum."

"Bah" responds Mr. Overdrive saying he is displeased by Franks lack of ability to please him. Then a freaky looking telepath creature reads Frank's mind and informs Mr. Overdrive that, "he was not lying. He genuinely is an idiot."
Frank gets to kick arse in his pants.
But it can detect a psychic block in Franks mind.  It pushes at it while simulteneously pressing the lump on the back of Franks head.  This causes lasers to erupt from Frank, releasing the manacles and stunning nearly everyone there.  Frank takes down the crocodile guard, while repeating the mysterious mans words to him back when he lost his eye.  He brings up the list of Wally Squad Judges and asks if they are being eliminated.  A dazed Mr. Overdrive says yes.  "Nice one" grins Frank.

Back with Jack Point, he is still at the Church of Simpology, reflecting on the high level of Simping there that puts him to shame.  He is led to a machine that will have him undergo "idiocy auditing" so he can be fully initiated right away.  The woman tells him to "Surrender to the heart of the God City".  Jack wonders why people keep saying that, then is zapped by the machine.  He is shown that:

Jack: "Real Simping's not about blending into a mad city.  It's all about serving it"

The city needs support, needs sacrifice.  The Church Of Simpology is the first wave, sending people to spread the word and when the Meg is full of believers, "turn their eyes to other flocks."

Jack: "Joy through jokes.  Serenity through stupidity.  Obedience through idiocy."

After this brain washing he is left alone in a room to process it.  He reflects that it's dumb but isn't hurting anyone and that he also "looks forward to bringing the true and mighty word of the God City to the heathen masses."
Wonderful use of colour.
His shuttle is almost prepped for takeoff so he can "spread the word of the Urban Paraclete as intended".  He leaves a message for DeMarco saying he is running away.  He opens the door and the mysterious man who has been stalking him is in the doorway.  They briefly struggle, then the man shows him his Black Ops Judges badge.  He tells Jack to yield and Jack does so.  The Black Ops Judge raises a blue sword up behind Jack and Jack says "go for it. Amen".

Judge Dredd goes to Bachmann's office and places her under arrest for crimes against Mega-City One.  For embezzlement, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, sedition and aiding and abetting in the murder of Judge Franklin Breyer.

She says she hopes he as evidence for all these accusations or it won't look good for him.  He says "I've got enough".  He then flashes back to a radio conversation with the mysterious tea drinker.  The mysterious man says he intercepted the Wally Squad list and swapped it for a "kill list".

Mysterious Man: "Everyone you have marked for death in the brave new world of ours.  The neer-do-wells.  The problem children.  Those making our post chaos world more chaotic."

Back in the present, Dredd tells Bachmann she never had the Wally Squad list and the people on it were people Black Ops would have killed eventually.

When she says he has no proof, Dredd says on the list was a paranoid gun runner who had a recording device in his leg and he taped the Black Op Judges appearing, calling him Wally Squad then shooting him.  Bachman says that is circumstantial.  Dredd says they also have proof that she was embezzling funds to an off-world corporation that bought the list and was to execute Jack Point.

Bachmann blusters and enters into a mental conversation with her telepath, and tells her to scan the moonbase.  The telepath says there is a mole there who has discovered the list.  She also says "our partner's starting to panic - I think he's about to launch early".  Bachmann says to tell him to hold off, but the telepath can't reach him.  Dredd says Bachmann has gone quiet, she says her "silent partner is about to do something very silly... time for plan B".  Several Black Op Judges reveal themselves and there is a gun battle that results in Bachmann shooting Dredd several times.
Bachmann's hostile takeover begins.
On the moon, while Frank tells the reader the list isn't a list of Wally Squad, several Black Op Judges burst into a pair of gun runners room and execute them.  Frank gloats to Mr. Overdrive that he was sold a dummy list to draw his plan out into the open.

The Black Op Judges close in on his location and Frank shoots a warning shot at Mr. Overdrive to get him to close the doors.  He downloads all financial and employee records as well as blueprints of Overdrive Inc. 
He tries to get Mr. Overdrive to tell him who his contact in the Justice Department is but Mr. Overdrive bites him.  Dirty Frank pistol whips him and is let go then makes his getaway back to Luna-1 in a taxi.

Mr. Overdrive: "They know!  Intiate Operation Overdrive! NOW!"

While Frank zooms back to Luna-1 the ground starts to rumble and his taxi is knocked over.  Dirty Frank spills out, still clad in his clinging space suit layer and sees Luna-2 bristling with guns, and rising up.

Frank: "Well Dirty Frank didn't see that coming".

We return to Jack Point.  His would-be assassin says he doesn't understand why Jack wasn't on the list they bought. Jack thinks that the "God-City's deemed my clogs gotta pop", and he is willing to be killed.  Then his computer slate beeps and it's a message from DeMarco, she says she doesn't want to lose him.

DeMarco: "I love you. ridiculous Gruddamn mess.  Don't you go anywhere.  Don't you give up.  On anything."
Jack gets his own back.
This snaps Jack out of it.  Meanwhile his assassin has been distracted by a call that phase two of the operation may launch early.  He is told to "complete your present mission.. converge on the Grand Hall and prepare for war."

As he is told this, Jack grabs his blade and stabs him through the throat.  He thinks to himself afterwards:

Jack: "I've defied the Mighty Metropolis.  And all the fleshy fem fantasies in the world won't fix that.  How do ya break a holy hypno habit?"

He realises Judge Folger had the same indoctrination.  He feels enormous guilt as he defies his conditioning.  He goes to Mr. Turner, the Archmime's office and it is empty.  He overhears Turner saying everyone gets an accelarated revelation.  There will be a need for cannon fodder on the street.  Jack Point thinks about the city and comes to a conclusion.

Jack: "Mega-City One man.  It's about being part of the machine.  Not above it. Not below it.  In-drokking-vested. You don't need religion to make it work.  Not anymore 'n you need a Gruddamn badge."

And he accesses Mr. Turner's computer records and discovers he has supplied sleep machines to every Judge Sector House in the Meg.  He sees something names "Full Revelation Protocols" has been activated and that Turner has been brainwashing Judges.  Then he is told his shuttle is ready to take him off-world.
A brainwashed army of Simps.
Back with Dredd's story, Bachmann's Judges are converging on the Grand Hall.  Hershey calls a lockdown but Bachman calls her to say:

Bachmann: "Carolyn Bachmann here.  Just calling to tell you that I'm ready to take over running the city now.  Short notice I know..."

She also tells her she has Dredd, badly injured but alive.  Hershey says "for Grud's sake.."  But Bachmann says Grudd is outdated.  She has invented a diety, The God City. Good citizens will live in Heaven above the city in Luna-2.  Meanwhile the old city, Mega-City One, will be Hell, "an endless prison for those who resist me."

She tells Hershey Mega-City One "doesn't work.. it's as simple as that."  She offers Hershey ten minutes to surrender.  She orders the triggering of the indoctrination program from the altered sleep machines which will put more Judges on their side. "In ten minutes I want a wave of fresh bodies as brainwashed as you are" she tells her Black Op Judges.
Bachmann outlines her plan to Hershey.
She then gloats over Dredd who struggles to speak.  He tells her "There are no rules, all there is -  is the law."  He then speaks the message "Bullet to King Four".  He tells Bachmann she made two mistakes, one was underestimating him, the other was picking an office next to accounts.

Suddenly a hole is blown in the wall by a Judge Maitland who says "Accounts Division.  Consider this an audit."  She fires a smoke bomb and in the confusion she and Dredd make their getaway.  Bachmann sends some goons after then, ordering their execution in the name of the God City.  Maitland and Dredd stagger along, Dredd though is more injured than they realise and he collapses and falls down a flight of stairs.
Accounts to the rescue!
Dredd's "Bullet To King Four" message is also heard by the tea sipping Judge who says "Saudade".  Frank also hears the message and it opens the psychic blocks in his mind and tells him his purpose.  He recalls being in a meeting with Dredd and the mystery Judge.  They knew Bachmann was connected to what was going on on the moon. So Dirty Frank was given a memory wipe and a psi-chip in the lump on his head for protection.

Frank returns to the present and notes he is bleeding badly and the space plastic won't allow him to stop it.  He contemplates the chip in his hand with the records of Bachmann's wrong doings on it.  But Luna-2, bristling with guns has taken off to attack Mega-City One.

Frank takes a running leap off the surface of the moon to catch Luna-2 but flies past it.  Thinking he is going to die he bursts his space plastic suit and the blast of released air pushes him towards the city.  He finds an airlock door and thinks to himself:

Frank: "Everyone has to have faith in something.  Damaged, brutalised and diseased perhaps. But it's still Dirty Frank's city.  And it will not die today!"
Walking on the moon.
Jack's story shows us that Mega-City One has gone into panic over the approach of Luna-2.  Jack says it's not his problem anymore.  His shuttle takes off, but is shot down by Luna-2. Mr. Turner reports this fact to Bachmann.

But Jack is still alive, he insists he has a premonition and didn't board the shuttle because of that and not what is being done to his city.  He discovers a room full of indoctrination machines and realises the people from the Church Of Simpology were just "guinea pigs".  He wonders what caused the "kink" that forced the hand of whoever is behind this.  He aborts the Revelation procedure and then opens the door to make his getaway only to be confronted by an angry Mr. Turner.
Mr. Turner is displeased.
That concludes all the separate storylines.  The story now merges into one full colour strip starring all three protagonists drawn most excellently by Carl Critchlow, who manages to be blend the three art styles extremely well.

We get a quick catch-up of the situation with the three characters.  Dredd is still injured, Jack Point is fighting Mr. Turner and Frank has a rapidly depleting air supply and is trying to get into Luna-2 the flying city.

Frank: "A giant shark shaped supercity, heavily laden with alarming weaponry, descending on your beloved city with the intent to destroy and presumably replace it."

He manages to get inside, helped by the crocodile headed guard who fixes up Franks arm to pay him back for the kindness he showed him as part of Overdrive Inc. board.  Frank asks to use a phone.
Judge Smiley revealed.
The injured Dredd flashes back to the mystery Judge being introduced to him year ago as Judge Smiley, head of Black Ops.  Then later he was considered missing presumed "ate" during a zombie attack on Mega-City One.  Then he reappeared when it became clear Bachmann was planning a coup and bought Frank and Dredd in on his plan.

Judge Maitland patches up Dredd best she can, as the brainwashed Judges attack they move on with Maitland saying that one minute she was filing cards next she remembers everything about "working to bring down Black Ops with a guy with a biscuit fetish".  Dredd says Smiley put the hypno-implant in her mind blocking the memories until the right trigger phrase was heard via the radio in her tooth.

Maitland: "Seriously? I had brain surgery for you?"

"Not for me Maitland.  For the Law."

She asks if it is just them and "Mr. Biscuits" against an army of religious ninjas.  While Frank finds a phone and contacts Dredd informing him of the situation.  Luna-2 was built with Overdrive and Bachmann's money, there are many armed mercenarys aboard, it has cutting edge weaponry "we have nothing that can stop them".  Dredd responds, "we have you".
The Simping army.
We return to Jack Point who is losing his fight with Mr. Turner.  Then suddenly someone shoots Mr. Turner dead.  It is one of the Simps Jack reversed the mind control on.  When they ask what to do next Jack wants to escape.  But then something in Mr. Turner's pocket starts making a noise.

It is the tooth removed from Jack when the joined the Church.  It broadcasts the message "Bullet to King Four" and he remembers his part in this, being told by Smiley he'll be "useful".  He needs only to receive an artefact and fall from grace.  In the present, Jack realises he is still a Judge in that case, "Gruddamit!"  He orders the Simps to gather weapons and deputises them.

Hershey and the other Judges holed up in the Grand Hall spot Luna-2.  They realise they cannot win in a battle against it.  She tells them to launch everything they have at it bar nukes anyway.  But they can't penetrate the city's shields.  Luna-2 opens fire in response.

On board Frank has another flashback to Judge Smiley telling him "there is something very important I need you to remember eventually."  Frank recalls the word "Saudade".  he uses it to bypass the security on the computer he is trying to access as the guards close in on him.
Quick, Dirty Frank!
Back with Dredd and Maitland, they are in a firefight with the brainwashed Judges.  Jack arrives on the scene with his armed Simps.  Dredd tries to arrest him but Jack says he is "parta the team".  He says if he can reach Control he can reverse the brainwashing sleep machines. 

Dredd can't believe Smiley "sent a Simp to save the day".  Jack calls Larf who isn't dead and DeMarco appears and hugs him.  Dredd sends them to Control while he and Maitland will make their way to Hershey and hopefully Frank can succed in his attempt to sabotage the city.

Jack and DeMarco make it through the chaos to Control and deactivate the sleep machines. Jack reflects that Judge Smiley knew he'd act out of self-preservation and used that, "knew I'd play the whole thing selfish".  And that he'd find the Church of Simpology and when it came down to it he'd "do the right thing drokking thing.  Stay with my city."  He apologises to Larf for abandoning him before and Larf licks him.  He leaves the Simps holding the fort as he has something he has to do.
The battle for Mega-City One.
Onboard Luna-2, Mr. Overdrive confronts Frank telling him he wants to see him die.  Frank says "Saudade.. silence all weapons and disable shields.  Stop firing, that is an order."  Frank is now the majority shareholder in Overdrive Inc as of twelve minutes ago when he bought out the rest of the board members and he now controls Luna-2.

The shields down, Mega-City One's missiles start hitting the flying city.  Mr. Overdrive, enraged beyond belief lunges at Jack.

Mr. Overdrive: "You are not successful.  Name one thing you have that I cannot buy!"

Frank: "Justice"
Mr. Overdrive is also displeased.
And someone off panel shoots Mr. Overdrive through the head.  Some Judges have flown up to the city and it appears it was one of them who shot Mr. Overdrive.  Frank tells them to get the crocodile headed guard and the members of Overdrive Inc off the city as it crashes into the ground outside Mega-City One.

Dredd and Maitland make it to the Grand Hall where Hershey is still alive.  After bringing her up to speed with events, Jack Point and Dirty Frank also arrive on the scene and together they go to take on Bachmann.
Badass team-up.
Bachmann appears saying they are in hell right now, that hell being Mega-City One.  She wanted a "pristine floating heaven" a heaven for everyone.  She manages to fight off Jack and Frank and tosses a stun grenade that floors Hershey and Dredd.

She starts beating Dredd with her fists, but he just tells her she shouldn't have got distracted and Judge Smiley shuts her up by blowing her brains out.  He introduces himself to Hershey. He's been living in the walls for twenty years:

Smiley: "I was put in place as a failsafe, you see. A Judge to judge the Judges - that was my role.  I felt I'd perform it more efficiently from behind the scenes."
Checkmate from Smiley.
Frank confronts Smiley saying he could have had him take over Overdrive Inc right from the start but he allowed things to play out to draw out Bachmann and countless people died.  Smiley makes reference to Frank seeing something in a blizzard and stymies Frank for now.

Hershey meanwhile is angry at Dredd for nearly allowing a coup to take place, "because you didn't trust me."  Jack and DeMarco take off for some sexy time together, while Dredd, Maitland and Frank contemplate the city.  Dredd says maybe it is hell, but Frank says they'll never abandon it, "it is... home."

Dredd: "Come on.  We've got work to do."
The Big Meg always endures.
And that brings this epic to an end.  What an awesome book this is.  Just the art makes me drool, one of the reasons I found mainstream US comics so hard to enjoy back in the day was the uniformity of the art in that bland "Marvel" style, I preferred DC at the time because they seemed a little more adventurous with their artists and the indies of course like Cerebus, American Flagg and the Turtles.  But I loved 2000AD so much for having no set house style allowing artists to express themselves indivdually and giving me something new with each story.  Having four artists working on this series shows the continuing strength of that approach, it's all wonderful stuff even if I do have to pick a favourite and say I can never get enough of Rob Williams and D'Israeli's Dirty Frank the grubbiest lawman in the Big Meg.  But really it's all fantastic.  And the writing does the art justice, an interesting MaGuffin linking the storylines, a shadowy figure pulling the strings, a clever plan to trick a corrupt senior Judge, a crazy plan to use a mooncity and brainwashed Judges to bring about a change in rule of law in Mega-City One and a fantastic climatic storyline seeing Frank, Jack and Dredd coming out triumphant at last.  Of course there was a heavy cost, but that's 2000AD for you, if you want sunshine and rainbows read Adventure Time (not a diss against Adventure Time, just noting it's more upbeat nature). Wonderful stuff, a real epic treat that is everything good about 2000AD in one hardback volume.

And that's it for this year.  The first full year I have written this blog and I do enjoy sharing the somewhat random collection of comics from my bookcases with you sexy, sexy people.  Join me in 2016 for more Obscure Alan Moore, blatant Garth Ennis favouritism, manga, superheroes, hot babes, hunky men, guns, swords, political commentary, cute animals, boobs, blood and lots of fighting.  Merry Christmas all, have a seasonal kitty cat pic with bonus geek reference.  See you in the New Year!


  1. omg rofl! that house baratheon cat made my day! the rest of the post was pretty good too ;)

    merry crhistmas!

  2. Merry Christmas G! :-)

    That's very kind of you, Kyoko, but I've only just scratched the surface of 2000 AD knowledge. There's a lot to know :-D

    What is it with the Wally Squad and snow?

    One of the people on that kill list is Matthew Brooker, a.k.a. D'Israeli.

  3. I feel with my 80's knowledge of 2000AD and your more recent we together are a pretty good expert on the comic!

    I wonder if the magic snowflake will ever get an explanation. Feels like they are playing the Long Game with Dirty Frank.

    Hee, I like when peoples real names turn up like that. Did you know there is an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation where the names of the actors playing the first six Doctors turn up on a computer readout?

  4. No, that's pretty cool :-D

    Dirty Frank's full story will be revealed eventually, but it might take years.

  5. Good, that means years more of Dirty Frank, huzzah!