No. 216 – The Blob

The Blob written by Alan Grant and drawn by John Higgins from the Judge Dredd Mega-Special 1988 v cult classic B-movie The Blob (1958) starring Steve McQueen (1930–1980) in his feature film debut

The film The Blob also bears a striking resemblance to a story in the Judge Dredd Annual 1982 called The Vampire Effect, written by John Wagner and drawn by Mike McMahon, wherein an alien entity that is composed of and gorges on energy, is physically diminished by liquid xenon (-244ºC), lured through the streets of Mega-City One with gunfire while the power along its path is cut off in stages, lead to and ultimately trapped inside a spacecraft launch silo where it overindulges on rocket fuel to the point of combustion. Slightly on the wrong side of cost-effective but considerably easier than flying it all the way to the arctic ice deserts to be buried in stasis.

The Blob was remade in 1988 (TriStar Pictures), performing poorly but acquiring a modest cult following; and a third remake is in the pipeline with Jack H. Harris, the producer of the original, as executive producer.

No. 205 – The Platinum Horde

Left: prog 217 cover art by Mike McMahon; right: Yuan dynasty (14th century) Genghis Khan portrait (artificially coloured) courtesy National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

His Supreme Bloodthirstyness [sic] King Gargantua the Diminutive of the Karbongian Empire and his Platinum Horde, from prog 217’s (1981) Tharg’s Future Shocks: The Last Rumble of the Platinum Horde, written by Alan Moore and drawn by John Higgins v Genghis Khan [Mongolian: “Universal Leader”; pronounced “jengis H’aan”], born Temüjin [Mongolian: “iron”] Borjigin (c. 1162–1227), founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, the largest – if somewhat short-lived – empire in history until the British Empire[1]

The Platinum Horde is a reference to The Golden Horde[2], a vast Mongolian khanate (chiefdom or principality) established by Genghis’ grandson Batu (c. 1207–1255) in the 13th century, originating as the northwestern sector of the Mongol Empire and at its height encompassing most of Eastern Europe from the Urals to the Danube River, extending east deep into Siberia, and in the south bordering the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains.

Timur

If a “last rumble” could be historically attributed to anyone’s horde, however, it really deserves to go to that at the head of which sat mighty Amir[3] Timur (1336–1405) – the lesser-known (these days, at any rate) but nonetheless extraordinary last of the great Mongol conquerors – also known as Tamerlane[4] (more pointedly referred to in Europe as “Tamerlane the Great” or “Tamerlane the Destroyer”), a Turco-Mongol warlord proclaiming himself heir to the Mongol Empire (though only tenuously related to the Borjigin line), and carving out his own empire comprising modern-day Iran, the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, much of Central Asia, as well as parts of contemporary India (where he founded the Mughal – a Persian/Arabic corruption of the word “Mongol” – Dynasty (1526–1540, 1555–1857)), Pakistan, Syria and Turkey.

Notes:

  1. Mongol Empire: 24 million km² (9.27 million mi²), ruling 110 million people; British Empire: 35.5 million km² (13.71 million mi²), ruling 533 million people
  2. Not to be confused with the celebrated Irish band of the same name (1982–1994), as well one might
  3. Amir (or “emir”) meaning “commander”, “general”, or “king” – aristocratic, noble and military title used in Arab countries and Afghanistan
  4. A composite of “Timur”, his given name, Uzbek Chaghatay also meaning “iron”, and the Persian  “-i-leng”, meaning “the lame”, combined to form “Timur-i-leng”, or “Timur the Lame”, anglicised as “Tamerlane”; referring to the result of a battlefield arrow wound

 

No. 203 – Elevator of the Apes

Ugoo-Robert, leader of the All-new Ape Gang, from prog 2088’s (2018) Judge Dredd story Elevator Pitch[1], written by Rob Williams and drawn by Chris Weston v Koba, played by Toby Kebbell, from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)[2]

The “All-new” Ape Gang refers back to the Judge Dredd story The Ape Gang [or Monkey Business] appearing in prog 39 (1977); written by John Wagner and drawn by Mike McMahon; the leader of which was named Don Uggie Apelino, and which featured mutated, intelligent apes (or “uplifts”), the result of cerebral cellular engineering, inhabiting a Mega-City One ghetto known as The Jungle.[3]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a re-reboot[4] of the successful Planet of the Apes (1968) franchise – based on the novel La Planète des singes (Le cercle du nouveau livre, 1963) by Pierre Boulle (1912–1994) – is the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), the plot of which is loosely based on the film Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), and is followed by War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), loosely based on the film Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).

Koba of the Apes series is a bonobo, or “pygmy” chimpanzee, as distinct from the larger common chimpanzee; an endangered species of great ape which, looked at in a certain light, sort of makes pitting him as an antagonist all kinds of dodgy.[5]

Notes:

  1. An “elevator pitch” is a US business idiom meaning a succinct and persuasive sales pitch, ie. one that can be presented successfully within in the constraints of a single elevator ride
  2. Koba was played by Christopher Gordon in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but it seems to us that Ugoo-Robert was more likely based on Koba’s lengthier and more memorable on-screen appearance in its sequel
  3. At least up until The Jungle’s obliteration during The Apocalypse War (progs 245270 (1982))
  4. Although Tim Burton’s uninspiring 2001 remake Planet of the Apes was a financial success, Fox nonetheless chose not to follow it up with a direct sequel
  5. The overall dodginess of ghettoised ape gangsters in Judge Dredd notwithstanding

No. 184 – Doctor Feeley Good

Beelte image ©Time

Dr. Feeley Good* from prog 108’s (1979) cover by Mike McMahon for the Ro-Busters story The Fall and Rise of Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein (progs 103115), written by Pat Mills v the [GE] Beetle, appearing here in Life magazine, 4 May 1962

The Beetle on display

The now defunct Beetle was the nickname of a large, pilot-operated mobile manipulator created by Jered Industries (now part of PaR Systems) in Detroit for General Electric, built to order by the USAF Special Weapons Center, designed to handle volatile material for nuclear bombers. Work on the Beetle began in 1959 and was completed in 1961. Built on a chassis from the M42 40 mm Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun, [or “Duster” – basicly a tank], the Beetle was 5.8 metres (19 feet) long, 3.7 metres (12 feet) wide, 3.4 (11 feet) high and weighed 77 tons, with a top speed of 13 km (8 miles) per hour. The manipulator’s pilot was protected by cockpit that included a 58 cm (23 inch) nuclear blastproof glass shield.

When the atomic aircraft project was cancelled in 1961, the Beetle was earmarked by the US military for a role in cleaning up nuclear explosion debris, but discontinued due to its size, speed and unwieldiness, eg. the pilot required several minutes to enter and exit the vehicle.

*The name refers either to British punk band Dr. Feelgood, formed in 1971 (and still going); or Doctor Feelgood, the alternative stage name of American blues musician Piano Red [Willie Lee Perryman] (1911–1985)

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No. 181 – General Blood ‘N’ Nuts

Patton photo courtesy Associated Press

Zombie film reference here? Let us know!

Leader of the Legion of the Damned, General Blood ‘N’ Nuts, drawn by Mike McMahon from prog 83’s (1978) Judge Dredd story The Cursed Earth (progs 6185) written by Pat Mills [this episode] v U.S. General George S. Patton (1885–1945)

General George Smith Patton Jr. commanded the U.S. Seventh Army of the U.S. Army in the Mediterranean and European theatres of the Second World War (1939–1945), but is best known for his leadership of the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

It was around this time that the US press began calling Patton “General Blood and Guts,” having heard him claim in a speech that it took “blood and brains” to win a war, and the nickname would follow him for the rest of his life. Although Patton was widely admired by the soldiers under his charge, some were known to quip bitterly, “our blood, his guts.”

Gen. Patton was immortalised in the eponymous 1970 film Patton (20th Century Fox, 1970), which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for George C. Scott (1927–1999).

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No. 179 – The Fear That Made Milwaukee Famous

Schlitz® beer is a registered trademark of Pabst Brewing Company; Rhode Island Red photo (right) by Marilyn Barbone (Dreamstime.com)

The Fear that Made Milwaukee Famous written by John Wagner and drawn by Mike McMahon, featuring villain Rhode Island Red, from Judge Dredd Annual 1981 (IPC Magazines, 1980) v Schlitz® beer tagline and, well, a breed of domestic chicken

Not one of our more visually robust HoH entries, being essentially a beer label and a picture of a chicken, but a welcome excuse to revisit one of our favourite Dredd stories relating the events of a brief foray beyond the walls of Mega-City One to capture Cursed Earth bandit and leader of the outlaw Red Leg Raiders, Rhode Island Red, which takes an unexpected turn for the genuinely eerie as the spirits of what was once the city of Milwaukee*, Wisconsin, interpose seeking retribution for their untimely obliteration, the result of a domestic nuclear weapon mishap.

Untitled (1949) by Sy Kattelson

The title of the story alludes to the tagline associated with Schlitz® beer, “the beer that made Milwaukee famous” [not the Schlitz® slogan itself which was, “when you’re out of Schlitz, you’re out of beer”], produced by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, founded in the U.S. in 1849 by August Krug (1815–1856) and acquired by German-American entrepreneur Joseph Schlitz (1831–1875) in 1858, subsequently becoming the largest beer producer in the US in 1902, and maintaining that position on-and-off for the first half of the 20th century.**

Foghorn J. Leghorn ©Warner Bros.

The character Rhode Island Red himself is named after an American breed of domestic chicken developed in the late 19th century in Massachusetts and Rhode Island by cross-breeding birds of oriental origin such as the tall Malay with brown Leghorn birds originally from Tuscany, Italy. It is the state bird of Rhode Island [which, incidentally, is nowhere near Milwaukee]. The actual appearance of the vociferous Red in the Dredd story may also be a nod to Foghorn J. Leghorn, who originally appeared in 28 Warner Bros. Animation’s Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons from 1946–1963.

*The name “Milwaukee” comes from the Algonquian millioke, meaning “good”, “beautiful” and “pleasant land,” or “gathering place [by the water (Lake Michigan’s western shore)]”
**Bought in 1982 by Stroh Brewery Company and subsequently sold along with the rest of Stroh’s assets to Pabst Brewing Company in 1999, which recently launched Schlitz Gusto® beer

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No. 176 – Klegg-Hai!

Doctor Poo ©Time Inc. UK[1]

Kleggs, here pictured on prog 98’s (1979) Brian Bolland cover for Judge Dredd: The Day the Law Died (progs 89108 (1978–79)), written by John Wagner v Zarkons from Monster Fun #39’s (6 March, 1976) Doctor Poo[2] [character pictured right panel, bottom] created by Leo Baxendale[3] (1930–2017)

Judge Caligula Book Two

Ranked among the most memorable villains in the Judge Dredd universe, the Kleggs are an extraterrestrial, feudal race of reptilian mercenaries hired by the tyrannical Chief Judge Caligula to quash a rebellion in Mega-City One led by Dredd. Perhaps also with a nod to the warlike Klingons (also known to consume human flesh on occasion) of Gene Roddenberry’s (1921–1991) Star Trek universe, Kleggs demand payment in meat and hunt down quarry with Klegg-hounds – dog-like creatures with crocodilian heads – usually while chanting catchy, improvised war songs such as, “Slicey-dicey, oncey-twicey, claw and fang’ll kill Dredd nicely! Meaty-beaty, chop ’em neatly, death or glory – no retreatee!”[4] generally followed by their war cry: “Klegg-Hai!”

Judge Cal also features in HoH here.

Notes:

  1. Formerly IPC Media
  2. Ostensibly based on the fourth incarnation of the Doctor played by British actor Tom Baker (1974–1981) in the science fiction series Doctor Who (BBC, 1963– )
  3. Thanks to David Moloney of the Great News For All Readers! blog, and Lew Stringer of Blimey! The Blog of British Comics! – unfortunately none of us could confirm the artist on this strip, but the collective best guess is Mike Brown mimicking Baxendale’s style – of this our experts are sure: it wasn’t Baxendale himself
  4. Bearing a curious resemblance in meter to the novelty song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini written by Paul Vance and Lee Pokriss (1924–2011) and released by Bryan Hyland in 1960 (Leader/Kapp Records)

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