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Author Topic: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk  (Read 19939 times)

douglaswolk

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #60 on: 28 May, 2012, 04:40:15 pm »
This week: "The Pit"!

http://dreddreviews.blogspot.com/2012/05/pit.html

I amused myself by finding what I suspect is the moment at which "Judge Dredd" passed the Bechdel Test (i.e. two women characters talk to each other about something besides a man). Is there an earlier one I'm overlooking? What would have been the earliest such moment in "2000 AD"? (The obvious example that comes to mind is the beginning of "The Ballad of Halo Jones" in Prog 376, but there has to be something earlier.)

a chosen rider

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #61 on: 28 May, 2012, 06:37:06 pm »
This week: "The Pit"!

http://dreddreviews.blogspot.com/2012/05/pit.html

I've really been enjoying these blog posts of yours, especially now you're getting closer to modern-day Dredd.  The Pit actually seems to get a great deal of love on this board, especially when it comes to recommending books to introduce newbies to the series.  It's definitely a personal favourite of mine: weirdly enough, Doomsday for Mega-City One was the first Dreddverse story I ever read, largely due to the promising-looking female protagonist, and I've loved all things DeMarco ever since.

One small niggle with this post: I'm not sure it's strictly fair to say that Warren's right in saying Dredd has one law for DeMarco and another for him.  The distinction Dredd's making is surely to do with how they acted in the face of discovery rather than the shared 'crime' - Warren was willing to let another Judge die to avoid being caught out, where DeMarco voluntarily exposed her own wrongdoing in order to do her duty, which seems a pretty clear dividing line to me.  In the past, Dredd hasn't seemed to consider unjudicial liaisons a badge-taking offence, provided the offender is willing to own up, classify it as a moment of weakness and vow not to make the same mistake again.  (And DeMarco is visibly giving him a headache here by refusing to fall into line and accept that script to get her job back.)

That said, I do think Dredd goes on to show a degree of favouritism towards DeMarco later down the line.  (And quite possibly has some more complex feelings there than he's willing to admit, or even capable of recognising; that scene in Beyond the Call of Duty where he's trying to figure out why he's so "disturbed" is a favourite of mine.)  But I don't think there's any evidence of it this early on: Warren's out for dereliction of duty, not for shagging.

I amused myself by finding what I suspect is the moment at which "Judge Dredd" passed the Bechdel Test (i.e. two women characters talk to each other about something besides a man). Is there an earlier one I'm overlooking? What would have been the earliest such moment in "2000 AD"? (The obvious example that comes to mind is the beginning of "The Ballad of Halo Jones" in Prog 376, but there has to be something earlier.)

Death Planet?  Conveniently provided as a reprint with Meg 321, so I can answer this one.  In part eight - prog 69 - Lorna Vane confronts her female nemesis Zeena Dra Gornik, and they speak about Zeena getting kicked out of the guild of starship commanders and becoming a space pirate.  (There are arguably also some very technical scraped passes in the earlier parts, where Lorna asks a female extra to hand her some fruit in part four, and exchanges yells of the "Help!" / "I'm coming!" variety with a young girl she's trying to rescue in part five.)

And there are definitely earlier passes in Dredd; the very first page of the Wilderlands trade has McGruder and Castillo talking about Castillo's record, so that's prog 891.  If half-psychic conversations count, the young female cadet who finds Anderson in Necropolis talks to her about her injuries and the Sisters of Death in part 19 (prog 692).  I'm not convinced that's the first, but my memory of the early case files isn't good enough to pinpoint more off-hand.
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TordelBack

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #62 on: 28 May, 2012, 07:18:53 pm »
I'm not convinced that's the first, but my memory of the early case files isn't good enough to pinpoint more off-hand.

The House on Runner's Walk, prog 360something?  Most of the conversation between the two old ladies (both named) is about their lodgers (and/or surgery on same), and the lodgers are indeed men, but that's men in aggregate, as commodity, rather than as 'a man'... Probably stretching things too far there?

a chosen rider

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #63 on: 28 May, 2012, 07:54:46 pm »
I'm not convinced that's the first, but my memory of the early case files isn't good enough to pinpoint more off-hand.

The House on Runner's Walk, prog 360something?  Most of the conversation between the two old ladies (both named) is about their lodgers (and/or surgery on same), and the lodgers are indeed men, but that's men in aggregate, as commodity, rather than as 'a man'... Probably stretching things too far there?

I think you could argue it.  I've always interpreted the "talking about a man" clause fairly flexibly - two female Judges talking about a male perp, for example, I'd consider to be two women talking about their work rather than "about a man".

Anyway, looking that one up I found another arguable pass: on the last page of prog 373, Dredd's female rookie Dekker exchanges brief words with a female hostage to check if she's all right (admittedly she's talking to both the woman and her husband, but the woman answers her to thank her) and then gets promoted to full Judge by McGruder, although that's only a one-panel scene so we don't see Dekker respond to her words.

...Oh, wait, I've found an earlier, much better example.  Prog 280, Gunge: opens with an advertising video of women talking to each other about Otto Sump's new food range, and also features a scene of the female spokeswoman of the Moral Health Committee speaking to McGruder to demand the food be banned.  That's a clear pass.

Alas, my Dredd collection only goes back to Case Files 6, so I can't look for anything earlier - any advance on prog 280?
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JOE SOAP

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #64 on: 28 May, 2012, 09:25:48 pm »
Hadn't Wagner & Grant attended a Robert McKee seminar on storytelling by the time of the Pit?

Frank

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #65 on: 28 May, 2012, 10:25:15 pm »
Hadn't Wagner & Grant attended a Robert McKee seminar on storytelling by the time of the Pit?

Oh, you've got to be kidding; what did those two need to be told about how to tell a story? I suppose that would explain the whizz-bang ending to one of the most sophisticated and understated stories in the canon. I don't mind the ending, except that it seems like the kind of ejaculatory satisfaction big finish- where everything blows up and the bad guy gets it good- that Wagner's stories had always avoided. Chopper doesn't win in Oz, Dredd doesn't shoot Chopper, Dredd doesn't bring home the Judge Child, Death escapes capture ...

The Pit is so very wonderful for all the reasons stated in Wolk's post, but most importantly for its role as the precursor of the beautifully unfolding 52 Weeks of Wagner mega-epics we currently enjoy. After Judgement Day took the escalating levels of destruction in the traditional epic to their (il)logical conclusion, and Wilderlands mostly failed in Wagner's stated objective of refocusing the strip on Dredd as a more straightforwardly heroic figure, The Pit was like a breath of fresh air.

Taking The Graveyard Shift's diffused approach to narrative and marrying it to America's depth of characterisation, The Pit seemed to show the way forward for the Dredd strip and Wagner's writing- yet he followed it up with Doomsday's frustrating recapitulation of every epic trope that The Pit had just revealed as silly and unnecessary. The Pit does represent a turning point in the development of the strip, but it took almost a decade to learn the lessons that story provided.

I imagine the comic's falling circulation and the attendant pressure for BIG storylines to try and arrest this decline were responsible for the return to epic aspirations, and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the comic as the reason for the largely directionless period of conceptual drift that followed Sin City; but it's a mystery why it wasn't until the partial reboot of Origins and subsequent epics- that let the development of Dredd's supporting cast lead their largely unresolved stories- before anyone seemed to build on the obvious quality and success of the first true epic of Wagner's mature work.

TordelBack

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #66 on: 28 May, 2012, 10:30:04 pm »
...yet he followed it up with Doomsday's frustrating recapitulation of every epic trope that The Pit had just revealed as silly and unnecessary. 
...
I imagine the comic's falling circulation and the attendant pressure for BIG storylines to try and arrest this decline were responsible for the return to epic aspirations...

Worth noting that it was Doomsday (well, the promise of Wilson's art, and Kennedy on the Orlok prologue) that hooked me back in to regular buying... so they weren't far off with that strategy.

JOE SOAP

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #67 on: 28 May, 2012, 11:00:38 pm »
Hadn't Wagner & Grant attended a Robert McKee seminar on storytelling by the time of the Pit?

Oh, you've got to be kidding; what did those two need to be told about how to tell a story?


Would that be the point?


I suppose that would explain the whizz-bang ending to one of the most sophisticated and understated stories in the canon. I don't mind the ending, except that it seems like the kind of ejaculatory satisfaction big finish- where everything blows up and the bad guy gets it good- that Wagner's stories had always avoided. Chopper doesn't win in Oz, Dredd doesn't shoot Chopper, Dredd doesn't bring home the Judge Child, Death escapes capture ...


Not really, a Rio Bravo/Outlaw Josey Wales/Assault on Precinct 13 ending is pretty much how a siege set-up plays out otherwise, why bother? East Meg One still gets wiped of the map at he end of the Apocalypse War.


« Last Edit: 28 May, 2012, 11:03:06 pm by JOE SOAP »

WhizzBang

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #68 on: 29 May, 2012, 05:13:17 am »
I have been very much enjoying this blog too.

I was originally a reader from about 300 to about 500, so am coming back to it after all these years through the case files at a pace a bit behind the blog and have enjoyed reading the opinions and background to it all.

The US viewpoint of the author is very interesting too as I had always assumed Dredd and British comics had very little respect outside of the UK, considering the huge success of Marvel/DC and the obscurity of 2000ad.

Frank

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #69 on: 29 May, 2012, 07:25:22 am »
(A) Rio Bravo/Outlaw Josey Wales/Assault on Precinct 13 ending is pretty much how a siege set-up plays out otherwise, why bother? East Meg One still gets wiped of the map at he end of the Apocalypse War.

I don't know if I read (or re-read) The Pit as the set-up to a shoot out; it seemed to be working towards something more open ended. Since Wagner had been laying the foundations for the imminent Nero Narcos confrontation for some time, something more eliptical, hinting at the fireworks to come, would have served the story just as well as the (well executed) conclusion that was published. That's certainly the direction modern epics have taken.

But, like I said; what does Wagner need to be told about how to tell a story?

Frank

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #70 on: 11 July, 2012, 07:07:59 pm »
Douglas Wolk's longest blog entry in a while concerns Case Files 19, which contains one of the most controversial epics in Dredd history, Grant Morrison's Inferno. He's joined by Marc Singer, who has left the field of Beastmastery behind to become a no-fooling Doctor of Grant Morrison-ology at the University of Mississippi:

"this is a story written for and by people who don’t read a lot of Judge Dredd. Morrison is ticking off all the established elements ... but even a novice like me can tell he isn’t using them with any particular verve"

MORE REASONS NOT TO SHOP AT MORRISONS

JOE SOAP

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #71 on: 12 July, 2012, 01:28:36 am »
Previous Volk sparring partner Alyssa Rosenberg has a new article:


Law & Disorder, Or, On Loving Judge Dredd and She-Hulk





« Last Edit: 12 July, 2012, 01:34:38 am by JOE SOAP »

a chosen rider

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #72 on: 16 July, 2012, 02:57:17 pm »
Ah, the Scorpion Dance entry is up.  Been waiting for this one, since it's a personal favourite of mine.  I particularly like the observation that Dredd isn't so much sexless as so hopelessly repressed that he can't even tell what he's feeling, because that's how I've always read his relationship with DeMarco.  There's something there on Dredd's side, but he's completely unequipped to even identify it, never mind do anything about it.

Also struck by the question of whether Dredd calls any other Judges by their first name.  Leaving aside the original Rico as a pretty obvious exception, does he ever?  There are a number of people who call him Joe, but I'm struggling to think of any occasion where he's reciprocated.  Wolk suggests Anderson as a possibility, but I don't think so...  Can anybody think of any incidents I'm blanking?
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Greg M.

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #73 on: 16 July, 2012, 03:11:53 pm »
Also struck by the question of whether Dredd calls any other Judges by their first name.

Yes, I thought that was quite an astute observation. I'm struggling to think of a time he calls Anderson 'Cassandra' - had a quick check of the end of 'Satan' (where he actually admit she's his friend, so it seemed a logical possibility) and nope - it's still 'Anderson'. You'd think Judge Giant Jr might be be one to deserve first-name status - except he hasn't got a first name! What about McGruder - does he ever call her Hilda? Maybe in 'Death of a Legend'?

TordelBack

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Re: Dredd Reckoning blog by Douglas Wolk
« Reply #74 on: 16 July, 2012, 07:16:48 pm »
He does use 'Morph' as a nickname for Morphy, if that counts, but I honestly can't think of Dredd ever calling any of his other 'pals' by their first names (Hershey, for example)

Wagner is very careful in the use of first names in characterisation.  Sinfield, for example, was called Martin by almost everyone.  Can you imagine anyone calling Chief Judge Silver 'Thomas'?  DeMarco and Buell call each other by their first names all the time, in fact deMarco calls almost everyone by their first name.  By calling her Galen Dredd is perhaps making a small move towards her way of doing things.