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!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

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

"It's a dead end. You stupid, fey, upright man crocodile!" - Dirty Frank

This is a story of all branches of the Law in Megacity One, an epic tale that ran in three series - Judge Dredd, Low Life and The Simping Detective - set in the aftermath of the massive series "Day of Chaos" that wiped out a big proportion of Megacity One.  Judge Dredd the fascist lawman surely needs no introduction.  I've covered the antics of Judge "Dirty Frank" the quirkiest member of the extremely quirky undercover "Wally Squad" from the "Low Life" series in a previous post.  The third character who I am not so familiar with is "Jack Point" the titular "Simping Detective", another Wally Squad Judge undercover as private investigator who likes to "Simp" as part of his diguise, the word meaning to dress like a fool or a simpleton in Megacity slang (and of course it's a play on the title of the famous Dennis Potter play "The Singing Detective").  The three stories start out seemingly seperately.  Judge Dredd dealing with a potential powergrab from within the system.  Dirty Frank waking up on board a space station to find himself a board member of an organisation called "Overdrive Inc" and Jack Point given a mysterious doll to keep safe.  Gradually the three strands begin to weave themselves together into an explosive finale.  The collection has the chapters in the order they should ideally be read in, meaning it jumps back and forth from colour to black and white and each series has it's own distinctive artwork. The credits are as follows: Judge Dredd 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. The front cover of the hardback collection is a lenticular one that shows Judge Dredd, and when tilted Dirty Frank and Jack Point appear as reflections in his visor, very cool. I'd also like to thank my very good friend Lucy McGough for lending this book to me.  Cheers Lucy!

Due to the packed nature of the collection I have split it into two posts.  This first one covers the most of the indivudual storylines - The Simping Detective's "Jokers To The Right"; Low Life's "Saudade" and Judge Dredd's "The Cold Deck". The second one will cover the rest of the individual storylines and the final merged story "Trifecta".
The story begins with a prologue chapter - "Bullet To King Four" - with Judge Dredd arriving at the Grand Hall Secure Wing.  When one of the Judges present questions the need for so much security Dredd orders him reassigned.

Dredd: "We're not taking any chances with the clone of War Marshal Kazan".

Dredd speaks to the prisoner, Kazan is a little old man with a chessboard.  Dredd asks him about someone called "Borishenko".  Kazan says he never met him and that as Dredd's enemy he had "little to look forward to but my death.  Hence my defection".

He became a valued itelligence asset but Dredd says he never told them anything about Borishenko they didn't already know.  Kazan says he has been confined for seven years, "my knowledge of underground guerilla factions is not what it was."  Dredd says he's "dead weight" then.  Kazan assumes Dredd has lobbied to have him executed.

Dredd: "I've tabled it.  The sooner you're gone the better I'll like it.  Unfortunately we've other fish to fry."

Kazan says he has heard of the Council changes and maybe his gift for strategy can be useful to Dredd still.
Mega-City Justice business.
At an Interim Council Meeting several hours earlier, the assembled Judges discuss Dredd's petition to have Kazan, who let them down, executed.  Dredd is ordered to meet him again by the acting Chief Judge Hershey and once she has an updated report she'll make a decision.,

They then move onto plans to merge all the seperate Judge divisions into larger entities.  There will be a new Undercover division uniting the Wally Squad, PSU, SJS and Black Ops, and headed by someone called Bachmann.  Dredd is not happy about this, "it's like putting a cockroach in charge of the exterminators".  But the Acting Chief says he has no proof.  She says the Chief Judge position is open still if he wants it, but if he doesn't want to burdens of Council membership, he doesn't get to make decisions.

Back with Kazan, he sets up the chessboard but his comment to Dredd, "perhaps you cannot see the real game at all" causes Dredd to shoot the chessboard to pieces.  Dredd then leaves and gets a strange message over his radio from "a little glowing friend".  Dredd seems to recognise who it is and the voice says, "let's you and I sit down and have a nice chat."
Mr. Mystery contacts Dredd.
We then join Jack Point, somewhat hungover.  In his best Raymond Chandler style he introduces himself as being "all about the funny" and that in "a city like the Big Meg, crazy's a kind of camouflage".  He goes outside and bumps into a hugely fat woman, who says she's supposed to give something to a "badgepoint, a prophet of Megatopia".  Jack is confused and when the woman thinks he is signalling someone she gets angry and attacks him.

They fight and Jack calls his backup, an alienform velociraptor called "Larf".  The woman is subdued and as she lies dying she addresses him as "Judge Point".  She hands him a small doll in the shape of a jester and she pleads, "please! Take it!  The Broomcupboard bitch wants it".  She tells him that someone made her steal it. Then she dies and under her torn clothes is revealed a Judge's badge.  Jack takes the doll as someone spies on him from afar and thinks:

Jack: "This job? You weren't already a fool, youda quit years ago."
Jack Point meets the disguised Folger.
Then the action cuts to Dirty Frank dreaming he is back working the streets.  He is woken up by a robot butler.  He gets out of bed confused and walks to the window to find he is on a moonbase. "Oh.  Well that explains it" he says to himself.

The butler returns telling him "they are waiting for you" and Frank puts on a suit.  He goes into the boardroom and the robot introduces him as the newest boardmember of Overdrive Inc, "as per the terms of his recent contribution."  When a somewhat disbelieving boardmember questions this and asks Frank his net worth, Frank says "Dirty Frank has teddy."
Dirty Frank somewhat out of his depth.
The robot directs everyone to check their tablets for details on Franks contribution and they are all impressed.  He comes and sits at the table and it takes off to another location with everyone sat round it.  As they travel, Frank finds a large lump on the back of his head.  They stop at a new location and are introduced to the CEO of Overdrive Inc, "Mr. Overdrive" a humanoid shark.

Frank: "Dirty Frank is genuinely scared now".

Back with Jack Point he returns to his office, depressed that he killed a fellow Judge he starts to drown his sorrows.  He's called by his local Sector Chief who calls him and "abomination and a travesty" and that he has something he wants - the doll.  The Judge has taken something of Jack's in retaliation.  And shows him a tied up fellow PI called DeMarco, "kinda my girlfriend" thinks Jack.

He agrees to trade the doll for her safety and goes to where she is being held.  He hands over the doll, but the Judge betrays him and decides to kill them both.  But DeMarco shoots him with a laser hidden under her tongue and kills him.  Freed, she departs telling Jack to throw the book at him.
DeMarco is grateful for her rescue.
Jack admits to himself he has no idea what's going on.  A jester doll, a fat chick "and a buncha radrooks talkin' religious."  He thinks it's a setup and is rewarded by a gang of armed religious fanatics turning up saying "Hallelujah" and they detain Jack. "Aw hell" he grumbles to himself.

Dredd meanwhile is out doing his job, but is distracted.  A Judge called Buell comes along and informs him that the acting Wally Squad head Folger has been found dead in a "chem pit".  Forensics say she had "deep tissue body alteration" so she was undercover but shouldn't have been, she was strictly admin only.

As Dredd deals with more perps, Buell asks if he wants the "worse news".  Before she died, Folger withdrew some "gold clearance file" data.  It's a non-copy file, when it's moved it's gone until it's put back.  Buell says he is reluctant to report it up the chain of command because it means it will end up with Bachmann.
Bachmann!  *shakes fist*
She'll use it as an excuse for a power grab, consolidating the Wally Squad, SJS and PSU under her purview as well as Black Ops.

Buell: "Best case scenario?  Give it five years we're looking at a new Chief Judge who makes Sinfield look like... well, like you... and that's if she wants to play nice."

As he and Dredd talk, we see a bald Judge telepathically monitoring them, "he still thinks we don't know" she says.  Bachmann who is with her smiles, "does he? Good. Very good."

We return to Jack Point. The fanatics point guns at him and cry "Crimes against God! Righteous execution!"  Jack takes off his clown nose and tosses it at them, it explodes and allows him to make a getaway.  He returns to his office and finds his current status is "Rogue.  Detain on sight".  He laughs almost hysterically, "Hahahahahahahaha!  I'm out. I'm out.  I'm out!".

He goes to see a woman called Anne, saying he needs help.  She says the underworld is buzzing, "Stolen artefact.  Collectors offering biiiiig cred".  He shows her the doll and she examines it, while he he asks for a face changing machine, some cash, two weeks in a sleep pod and a route offworld.
Jack Point on the run.
She gives him back the doll saying it's "the real deal".  Only one like it in the world.  She then asks over the intercom if they can help him, but a silky voice says no.  So she shows Jack out, but shakes his hand.  Outside he finds a small, folded piece of paper in his hand, the note says the "helmets" will come for him and to sell the artefact to the buyer whose number is given.

Over to Dirty Frank.  Mr. Overdrive tells the board members he could "rip them to shreds with my awesome teeth" but he won't because he values them.  He then speaks directly to Dirty Frank and a man called "Lom" saying he has not "had the chance to intimidate either of you" before.

He then plays a short film which shows how he made his billions, by patenting the phrase "Don't be a shark, be a great, great white shark" before having his DNA bonded to a real great white shark.  He then went to Luna- 1 and bought all the struggling businesses there and asset stripped them.
Frank is startled.
Dirty Frank manages to get away while this is going on.  Down the corridor he is confronted by a guard with a crocodile head.  He cowers in fright but the crocodile man asks if he has come to check the new arrivals?  Frank blusters that he has and is taken to the teleporter. There are many people there, "illegal arrivals not being processes by Luna-1 customs" muses Frank.

He asks for access to a com unit and accesses his Judge file which says he has no current case on the go.  Bewildered Frank doesn't understand why he is there if not on Judge business.  Then "Lom" grabs him saying how stupid he is for calling up the Judge computer and he's blowing three years of undercover work in Overdrive Inc.  Mr. Overdrive appears and confronts them both saying he knows Lom is Wally Squad and blows Lom's brains out.
Tough luck "Lom".
Now with Judge Dredd, he is with a crippled Judge called Roffman who is having his lower body repaired.  He is a "valued strategic resource" so was put at the head of the queue for body repair.  Dredd muses on the hundreds, thousands rotting in med bays because they weren't considered useful.

They discuss Folger's death, the transponder she had fitted wasn't standard issue anymore because she had moved to admin.  They figure out when she was dumped, but lack a "who" and "why".  Dredd gets impatient and says if Roffman can't find the perp "he'll find someone who can".

Roffman, using the time the transponder activated tracks a robot truck passing by the pit at the time of the dump.  He accesses it's audio memory and gets a fragment of speech, local and which Dredd thinks he has heard before.  "Patois indicates the south-west part of the sector" says Dredd.  Roffman says give him an hour and he can come out with a programme that'll match the voiceprint next time the person opens his mouth.

Dredd gives him fifteen minutes to do it. We cut to the telepath with Bachmann still monitoring them.  She wants access to Dredd's mind but his "mental defences are up".
Bachmann: "No, of course they are.  The man's got a mind like a clenched fist.  I doubt he relaxes to pee."
The file is sold on as Dredd listens.
Dredd is out on his bike when Roffman calls him saying he matched the print and taps into "a robo-janitor at the No-Tell motel opposite Gavin Leahy block. Third floor".  Dredd moves out and gets to the building.  The voice Roffman matched is engaged in a deal for the "Gold Clearence File".  It is being bought for five million creds.  Dredd waits outside the room but for some reason holds back until the file has been sold and moved elsewhere, then the buyer points a gun at the mystery person who sold it to him and Bachmann listening in is pleased the file has been sold.

Roffman: "I don't believe this!  Dredd what in Grudd's name were you waiting for-"

Dredd: "That'll do Roffman.  I'm going in."

Dredd busts in and finds Jack Point as the seller.  He threatens the buyer with getting rough if he doesn't tell him where the file is going and tells Jack:

Dredd: "Charge is treason against Mega-City One.  Solicitation and sale of classified information... and murder of Acting Wally Squad Chief Folger."
Dredd crashes the deal.
While Dredd is distracted by his radio, Jack and the buyer decide to create a distraction and one leaps out of the east window, the other out of the west one.  Dredd decides to chase the buyer, and calls in units to apprehend Jack and if he won't come quietly, they can kill him.

Jack is confident he can't be found on "my streets".  Then he has a strange vision of a tea cup.  "What the hell's wrong with my brain?" he mumbles.  Then he is confronted by another of the religious nutters who has a gun trained on him. "The Urban Parachete demands sacrifice" he says.

Before he can kill Jack, he activates his whoopee cushion which calls Larf who attacks the armed man.  Jack makes his getaway and decides to stop Simping.  Wondering who can help him, he suddenly is confronted by a huge sign for "The Church Of Simpology".  He grins and puts his red nose back on.

Meanwhile on the moon, Mr. Overdrive says he values loyalty and undercover Wally Squad activity is definitely disloyal, hence the need for disciplinatory murder.  Frank has a flash vision of someone sipping tea from a teacup.  "Are you listening to me?" shouts Mr. Overdrive.

Frank: "Sorry.  Dirty Frank drifted off for a bit due to blind panic.  Where were we?"

Overdrive asks him if he should accept Justice Department infiltration at "such a key point of The Project?"  Dirty Frank starts chanting "All hail The Project" and the rest of the board members who have wandered up to see what's going on join in.
Mr. Overdrive shows off his new city.
Mr. Overdrive says he likes the cut of Dirty Frank's jib and says because he didn't object to him killing Lom, he can't be Wally Squad as well.  Not that he thought he was, he has a partner high up in the Justice Department and Dirty Frank was checked out thoroughly.  He takes him to a window and shows him The Project.  It is a city.  All the people illegally transported in are working on it.

Frank: "You're building Luna-2 in a giant moon crater and no one knows about it."

Mr. Overdrive tells FRank it's a "mega-city for this generation" engineered purely for profit.  Mr. Overdrive sheds a tear as speaks of this:

Frank: "And lo.  Even great white sharks shall weep.  Which is a top name for a future Frank power ballads album."

Mr. Overdrive thanks him saying he is moved and says he was right to accept Franks huge donation, for "revolution" doesn't come cheap.

Then someone drops some sort of memory device into Mr.Ovedrive's hand and something "is confirmed from Mega-City One".  The person handing it over says they successfully purchase "the list".  Mr. Overdrive says there is "blood in the business waters".  Frank asks how much.  "Lots" responds Mr. Overdrive:

Mr. Overdrive: "Because Overdrive Inc has just successfully purchased the true identities of every single Justice Department Wally Squad operative and International Secret Agent".
Dirty Frank is determined to save his fellow Judges.
Left alone, Frank realises this is why he was placed on the moonbase with a cast iron backstory.  Because the company are planning the murders of his fellow undercover cohorts.  He tries to call the Justice Department, but the comms are jammed "for the foreseeable future."  Another board member confronts him saying he suspected Frank of something.  Frank muffles him and tells the crocodile guard to eat him.

Frank: "This is how boardroom takeovers are done, yes?"

Back with Dredd he has caught the files buyer and he is interogating him about who he passed it onto.  The perp manages to blurt out it's "the corporate guy from the vids?  You know the guy - he's got a face like..."  Then Bachmann orders a sniper to fire a blast from a "nightmare gun" at him.  The perp sees Dredd transform into something monstrous from his childhood nightmares and dies of a fear induced heart attack.
The Nightmare Gun in action.
Grimly Dredd realises that one of the organisations who use such a gun is the Justice Department.  He calls Rothman to tell him he is going after Jack, but it is Bachmann who replies.  She says Rothman passed on details of the case to her, and she's passed it onto the Chief Judge.

Bachmann: "She's not best pleased.  In fact we'd like you to explain the matter with you in some depth.  Bring your badge.  We may be needing it."
On the moonbase, Frank tries feeding the board member to the crocodile guard, but his gag reflex prevents this, so he ties him up and puts him in an airlock.  "Truly the ruthless business world is a ruthless... business" thinks Frank.  Frank asks the guard where Mr. Overdrive has gone and is told he is off inspecting his new statue and palace in the new city.

Suddenly the alarms go off and the guard comments he has new orders that Frank is to be "captured or shot on sight."  The man in the airlock was able to use a local comm unit to reveal Frank's duplicity.  Frank speeds off as the rest of the guards come after him shooting.
Frank goes space walking.
He burst through a hole in the side of the building and into the outside.  He is coated in a thin plastic space suit which will allow him to "drift pleasantly to the Luna-2 construction site".  As he floats over to it the guards fire cannons at him.  The lump on the back of his head is itching and as he scratches it he gets a flash of a man saying he has a job for Frank.

Frank: "Whoever that is.  Dirty Frank would like to give him a right slap."

He reaches the Luna-2 site and floats down onto a building.  He confirms to himself he needs to find the disc and destroy it, "easy peasy".  As he clambers into one of the buildings though he is greeted by a motley array of alien looking guards and captured.

We return to Jack Point, who has arrived at The Church of Simpology, an obvious parody of the "Church" of Scientology.  He goes to register with a donation and submits to a security check where they find a "bugbot" in one of his teeth which they pull out.  Jack has no idea how it got there.  They believe him and welcome him into the Church.
Mr. Turner - The Archmime.
He is led deeper into the building and is told the mindreader detected he is filthy rich.  So he is being taken to meet "The Archmine", Mr. Turner.  Who turns out to be a man in a tall hat with an extra set of robot arms.  He mimes his speech and the hat translates and speaks it.  He knows all about Jack's woes as the "psi-sweep was remarkably revealing".  Left alone, Jack notes all the drugs and guns Mr. Turner has.

Mr. Turner: "Let's not Drokk around Jack.  My sleazy little cult exists primarly to liberate creds from rich retards, and I'd feel awful about that... if the repugnant skin wastes didn't wind up happier, calmer and more fulfilled in the bargain."

He says he is cynical, but who is Jack to judge, joining a Church just to get a ticket off-world.  And by funny coincidence that ticket will cost five million creds, "ha ha ha" he says.
Tough times for Acting Chief Judge Hershey.
The Acting Chief Judge Hershey is sat in a budget meeting where nationalising the collapsed banks is being suggested.  She flashes back to some prior events about finding a special boy while her mind wanders. Then she snaps back to reality to be told the city is "running on fumes".  She realises Mega-City One is in no position now to demand money from other cities.  It is dying "and she was stuck haggling over a defibrillator".
Dredd is shown in, he passes a Judge Maitland who greets him then has a flashback to having found an overspend in the Black Ops department and unexplained income of a private firm of the exact amount.  She is reporting it to a mystery person drinking tea and seems to have been made to forget it as she shakes her head and wonders if she dreamt it.

Judge Hershey is pissed at Dredd for allowing the list of Wally Squad operatives out into the wild.  She tells him she remembers something he told her when she was eighteen:

Hershey: "I remember you saying the Chief Judge must be pure. Above corruption, and I remember thinking... really?"

She says when you take on the job you quickly become compromised by the deals you need to make.  Also that Kazan's execution has been rejected thanks to Bachmann.

Hershey says Bachmann has been useful to her, "her and her 'specials' - her little psi-talents".  Dredd asks if she ever suspected her.  Hershey says there was nothing to suspect.  Bachmann might be powermad but she has never shown any evidence of illegality and Dredd hasn't been able to provide proof to the contrary.
Hershey is pissed at Dredd.
Hershey says she gave her a council seat to force her into the light.  Now due to Dredd and Buell's actions "she has all the ammuntion she needs."  She is aggrieved that Dredd didn't trust her, she could have forgiven him if he had managed to retrieve the list but he let it slip through his fingers in a mistake even a rookie wouldn't have made... why?  She asks him is he knew it was the Wally Squad list when he let it go.

Dredd: "I won't dignify that with a reply Chief Judge".

She dismisses him "for now".  We then cut to Bachmann who says a "nice juicy tragedy" blamed on Dredd and Buell will allow her to restock the Wally Squad with more suitable people.  She then gives the order to her Black Ops Judges:

Bachmann: "Give the word to all operatives - total annihilation.  I want every name on that list dead.  In less than fifteen minutes the Wally Squad as we know it will no longer exist!"
Dun Dun Duuhh!
And I'll leave Part One on that cliffhanger for now.  What good stuff this is.  The art is remarkably good, especially Rob Williams and D'Israeli's Dirty Frank who has to be one of the greatest recentish creations to come out of 2000AD, and I love the depiction of Mr. Overdrive and their interactions as well.  The Simping Detective parts are as gritty as they need to be and there is an incredibly effective use of small splashes of colour to enhance important details here and there and finally it's good to see Judge Dredd hasn't changed since I last read him, a man with a strict code but some sympathetic qualities as well and an uncanny ability as a detective to use the right resources avaliable and put together clues that other might miss, we know he has a plan it's just a matter of waiting to see how it's going to play out.  The stories are still unwinding separately ready for the final uniting of the three protagonists in "Trifecta" so join me in a few days for the concluding part of this epic crime tale.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Third World War: Book 1 (CRISIS #1-14)

"Wean the peasants away from subversion.  Win their hearts and mind" - Freeaid slogan

Given that I was raised by a hardcore lefty, during that most political of decades, the 1980's it probably comes as no surprise that I'm a pointy-headed lefty myself.  But while I would have become one sooner or later, it was actually a comic strip that opened my eyes to the inequalities of the world, it was a comic strip that really radicalised me age fourteen, and that comic strip was the Pat Mills written and Carlos Ezquerra drawn "Third World War" in the mature readers comic CRISIS.  Having not read it for around twenty years I was interested in seeing how much of it holds up.  And I think with it's attack on globalised capitalism and condemnation of western interference in the developing world, it's almost ahead of it's time.  Yes, it can be preachy in places, but it's basically a left wing propaganda series, preachy comes with the territory.. It's set in the near future (for a 1988 strip obviously) and shows us the damage being wrought by monolithic western capitalism on the communities of an unamed Central American state through the eyes of some "peace volunteers" who are in fact semi-soldiers suppressing dissent on behalf of their capitalist masters. It's an angry, diatribe by UK comics most political of authors, published during a period of stifling conservatism in Britain. This was the lead story in the first fourteen issues of CRISIS, running alongside The New Statemen's revisionist and gay friendly look at superheroes.
Eve is drafted.
The backstory in detail is that it is the year 2000AD.  After a global uprising of some description in 1996, the west and the Soviet Union nearly wiped each other out in a nuclear war. And it goes to show what a shock the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and then collapse of the USSR was that this comic, the majority of which was published less than year beforehand has it still alive and well and imagines the 1990's as a decade of violent turmoil in the west not the relatively peaceful "sigh of relief" it was after the end of the Cold War and before the start of the War On Terror.  Anyway after that it seems Western governments and huge multi-national companies decided it would be in both of their interests to collude in "freeing" the peoples of Central and South America and Africa from undesirable (ie: communist or Marxist inspired) rule via massive interference in their countries with the lie that they are bringing them "stabilty" when in fact they are acting purely in the economic interests of the big corporations. 
Left to right: Paul, Eve, Ivan, Trisha and Garry.
This is enacted by a type of army that drafts young adults from western countries and sends them out as a policy called "Freeaid".  Our five protagonists are all British, Eve is a black English student who narrates the story from her perspective noting the huge gap between the propoganda and the reality.  Paul is a secretive New Age pagan type.  Trisha a vacuous fundamentalist Christian who belives she is going through a time of tribulation before being "Raptured".  Ivan, a crazy punk who is the son of a high ranking military officer but who was kicked out of military school for subversive behaviour and Garry, a laddish cretin who volunteered because he thought he'd get lots of foreign poontang that way.  They are a squad in a collection of squads known as the "Psychos", Eve having been placed there because she tried to commit suicide after she was drafted.

Their first mission see's them attempting to displace a village.  One woman called Mrs. Garcia with a young son resists.  She tells them she won't move to the supposedly fabulous new accomodations provided by Multiburger, not even with bribes like a years supply of them.  When Garry gets aggressive with her, a man with a gun bursts out of the cupboard.  Thinking he's a guerilla, Garry is about to shoot him but Eve talks him down.
Bringing "peace" to the people.
However they persist on trying to get them out there and Trisha says he'll have to come and be interrogated to see if he is a subversive.  Mr. Garcia lunges forward in fear and Garry shoots him dead.  They then take Mrs. Garcia away with her son on the back of some trucks. Garry says he must have been a subversive as he was running an adult literacy group unathorised.  Eve sarcastically responds that teach adults to read is really subversive.  After they leave the area it is napalmed to scorch the Earth ready for conversion to farmland.

On their way to the Multifood village, Ivan gets on a skateboard and is pulled behind their truck.  Unfortunately this is misconstrued as enemy action by the planes escorting them and they drop a can of white phosporus which hits Mrs Garcia.  When they finally reach the new village, she catches fire again because her wounds weren't cleaned properly and refuses to let them near her as she burn, simply saying one word: "Basta!" as she burns to death.
Mrs Garcia makes a stand.
The next couple of issues take a shot at cola manufacturers.  Eve has been tasked with writing a positive story about what Freeaid is doing but is having a hard time.  They meet a gang of kids who are totally addicted to "Coola Cola" apart from one kid call Raul who just says it's OK.  The kids ask our gang if they can get a tour of the Coola Cola plant they are gaurding and Trisha says she is sure that can be arranged.  Even Raul seems keen to come along, much to the suspicion of Paul.

Sounds delicious.
When the group have time to relax, Ivan tunes the TV over to rebel propaganda.  But when their immediate superior, their sadistic sergeant finds out, he twists Ivan's arm nearly to breaking point.  After he leaves Paul says they need "mutate to survive" and the reason he is here is he forgot that.

Paul: "You're not at one of your student demos now Eve!  These people are dangerous...! If you stand out, they'll break you!"

After that incident, Eve who submitted her story is called to the Lieutenant's office about it.  He sighs and pinches his nose before finally saying:

Lieutenant: "I think you have an attitude problem Eve".

He belittles her attempts to write the truth saying they're fighting a different kind of war now, a "Third World War".  Winning doesn't matter and preventing it escalating into "Wargasm" is their job. Then he threatens to move her to a combat unit and Eve folds, saying she'll play along, "as I too, became part of the lie".
The smug Lieutanant.
She returns to her unit and is told to get tooled up in riot gear as there is a demo planned against the Coola Cola plant.  They put the demo down with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets.  But the Coola Cola plant explodes, it was sabotaged by the kids who were so enthusiastic about the stuff and the tour.  They run past chucking grenades shotuing "Basta" and get lost in the urban jungle.  It's then that Eve realises even the kids hate them and want to stand up to them now or when they are older.

The next story is about the ethics of crop spraying and intensive farming.  In a barrio (shanty town) the team are installing televisions in the people's houses, gifts from Freeaid so they can watch their propaganda being pumped out.

The team chat for a bit about how they joined.  Trisha revealed she joined so her parents could get social security under a "parent-help" scheme.  She lived in Apartheid South Africa and her parents were very kind to black people, they even let their houseboy live in a shed at the bottom of the garden even though they could have got into trouble.  After an uprising, they had to flee to the UK and were left with nothing, hence Trisha joining up (the relatively peaceful transition out of Apartheid was also unimaginable a couple of years before the release of Nelson Mandela).
Poisoning the land and people.
 We then see a plane spraying the crops heavily.  A farmer tells Trisha the sprayings have got heavier and heavier as the pests get used to the poison.  The farmers are made sick by the poison and have to sell their oranges for tiny amounts compared to their real worth to the big orange juice manufactuers.

Paul and Eve go off and have a private chat, Eve tries to probe his past.  He resists then changes the subject to wanting to broadcast all the crap they are doing to the Third World and how the only problems it has are caused by the First World.  Then they kiss and start to make love.  They are being watched by some real guerillas who say they'll attack tonight.
Eve and Paul have sexy time.
That night Ivan, Eve, Paul and Garry bond by holding a mock seance to freak Trisha out.  When they tell her they are joking she tells them that what they were doing was dangerous and hands them a pamphlet on the dangers of role playing games, rock and roll records, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, with the instruction to throw them away which Eve thinks is "a bit of an over-reaction."

As they drink round the fire with other members of their Freeaid platoon, Trisha asks Eve if she's shacking up with Paul because he's scruffy like her.  "I happen to like him" says Eve.  Trisha says it's more like he's put a spell on her, she's convinced Pagan = Satanist. Suddenly they are attacked and a mortar lands close by.  Paul is knocked out and the sergeant gives a panicky Eve an assault rifle.
Eve's first kill.
Eve suddenly realises she has brains spattered all over her shirt and runs to wash it off.  She is surprised by a guerilla and fires at her killing her.  She recovers and searches the corpse because she wants to know about the woman who tried to kill her.  Paul chews Eve out for killing, saying she should have stuck to her priciples. Even if it meant dying for them she asks?

Paul: "Especially if it means dying for them. If I'd been in your position it would have been time to put my personal belief in reincarnation  into practice."

God, Paul is such a sanctimonious douche.  He admits to being put in the position to kill before, he was a soldier on patrol and they stopped a man whose identity had a "shoot to kill" note next to it.  He opened fire and Paul fired back but wide, the man escaped and Paul got put in jail for a while.  "It was another country.  Another war."

The guerilla's uprising quelled, the Freeaiders leave the barrio.  Somehow the dish Paul erected is able to get the Pirate channel and this story ends with an old man watching the anti-western propganda being broadcast on it.
Local hero.
The next two-parter is drawn by Angie Mills (nepotism?), so let's all applaud the first female artist featured on this blog (it's taken too long, mea culpa).  The first part is mainly a long debate about the ethics of Third World debt. They are operating their hearts and minds bit in another barrio. To combat them, a luchador appears and is introduced as "Super Barrio!".

He points out that their trillion dollar debt is being paid for by the people who never saw a penny of the money originally as it was paid to dictators and warlords. Now the poor are being heavily taxed to compensate the west.  Their country had to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund, which meant they cut government spending to the bone instituting austerity measures and closing schools and hospitals.  Hah! Sound familiar boys and girls?
Discussing the mysterious "Finn".
The gang go for a meal at the nearest fast food joint and conversation turns to a wanted man called "Finn" who is some sort of big shot eco warrior the governments are after.  Paul wants to change the subject and says there is no proof he exists, but Garry says he does and they have found out he's a deserter from Northern Ireland who let a terrorist escape who then ran over one of the other soldiers in his unit.  CLANG!  That was a pretty unsubtle hint as to who he is...

The team are tasked with moving the inhabitants of another barrio to a brand new location which is a prison camp in all but name.  To combat Super Barrio Eve is forced to dress as a superheroine called the "Silver Saviour" and Garry as "Multi-Man".  They start telling the folks they are going to be moved to a much nicer place when Super Barrio appears and starts telling the truth.
Eve saves Super Barrio's life.
Not only is the new place like a prison camp, they'll be farther away from where they work and with the bus fares doubling to help pay the debt they'll be poorer than ever.  The Lieutenant orders Super Barrio's arrest and he tries to escape.  Garry comes charging in on top of a bull dozer and grabs him. Eve thinks Garry is going to kill him and whacks Garry over the head with a stick.  Then Super Barrio starts having a heart attack and Eve performs CPR on him.

Eve: "Some photographer took a picture of the Silver Saviour  "kissing" a "dangerous subvert".  And I guess with everything else that had gone wrong, they decided to shelve plans to clear the barrio - for the time being..."
Super Barrio survives and thanks her as he is taken away for treatment.  She then says to Paul she knows he tipped Super Barrio off about where the people were going to be moved to. She says she read his body language and that he should be more careful.  When Paul asks if Super Barrio said anything more to her, she says he said, "To hold people down forever is like putting a hand up to the sun".

The next two-parter deals with government sanctioned death squads.  Our gang end up rescuing a young woman called Monica from a death squad and take her to a safe location.  She tells her sad story to them (click the image for the full story).  Basically her husband Sergio was a union organiser at a Multifood factory, they were captured by a death squad.  She was tortured and raped and beaten so badly she has memory problems now.  They let her go after five days but she hasn't found her husband, he has been "disappeared".
Monica's sad story.
In the bar Paul acts like he has "seen a ghost".  Actualy who he has seen is his old Sergeant Major.  He's a Freeaid soldier now, here advising the fascist government.  Paul tells Eve he escaped from prison and he's a deserter.  Eve says he doesn't look anything like he used to so he should be OK, but we get a close up of his old Sergeant Major's face showing he has recognised Paul.

We then travel to the dump outside town where the bodies of the disappeared are dumped where Paul and Eve help Monica try to find her husband.  They search the bodies and Eve photographs them.  While they are there, Paul offers up his loathesome philosophy of life.  He waffles on a bit but in short, he cares not for human life which is generally against nature.  Humans are not set apart from living things despite the apartheid they have created between them and nature.

Paul: "I don't believe in the sanctity of life, you see?  Because that's not how nature does things."
Looking amongst the dumped coprses of the "disappeared".
They fail to find Monica's husband and return to town.  They return to town and Monica thanks them for helping.  Eve asks how she copes with her bad memory.  Monica says she keeps a diary about their happy times "so I can never forget him".

Later Paul and Eve are in bed together, Paul wakes up from a bad dream crying out (and as with The New Stateman kudos for having an obviously sexual interracial relationship without it raising any eyebrows).  He says he dreamt his old Seregant Major had come for him.  Eve says she can't imagine him in the army.  Paul says he joined up for comradeship and to muck around in the great outdoors because he loved nature.  When he ended up in Northern Ireland he let the terrorist go rather than shoot to kill, Eve asks him why he didn't if he doesn't care about the sanctity of human life.  "I don't.  But it doesn't mean I have to go out and kill people" he responds hypocritically.

He ended up in military prison after the terrorist ran over his mate and killed him, something he refuses to feel guilty about.  And soon he escaped saying Eve is "better off not knowing" about what it was like in jail.  Later they go to secretly hand some food aid to Monica's guerilla friends.  But they are surprised by the death squad from before, and Paul's old Sergeant Major is with them.
Yes, hit Paul go on, he deserves it!
He confronts Paul and Paul tells Eve to run.  Paul and his Sergeant Major get into a fist fight after Paul tells him he sees no difference in what the army does and terrorists do.  Eve is grabbed by the sleazy death squad leader and it looks like he is going to rape her

Then the cavalry arrive in the form of Monica and her guerilla friends.  They mow down the death squad and shoot Paul's old Sergeant Major.  As Monica leaves, Eve says she'll think about her. Monica replies:

Monica: "No - because that may make you sad, you know?  Think happy thoughts Eve.  Think about the revolution.. when the death squads are gone and there are no more 'disappeared'.  Think about when we are free!"
The cavalry arrives.
The next story has the gang trying to persuade a Mayan tribe to stop growing maize and start growing cash crops for Multifoods instead.  With them is a huge truck with nuclear material in it, a portable food irradiator driven by a chubby woman called Susan.The Mayan leader Xoyon refuses to play ball.  He says that:

Xoyon: "Maize is the basis of our religion.  Without it, we lose our Indian identity.  Our Holy Book, the Popol Vul, records how the first men were made of mazie paste after the gods rejected mud as too soft and wood as too hard.  We are made of maize.  What are you made of?"

Eve walks with Xoyon and asks him why his government wants to change their way of life.  Xoyon says they are "Ladinos - they have forgotten their roots."  He says that "private ownership of land makes as much sense as private ownership of the sky, the weather or sea.  Is crazy!".  Trisha says that makes them "Marxists".  Xoyon says they are not, both Marxism and Capitalism is against the natural order.

Xoyon: "We want to survive, the Ladinos are waging a war of genocide against us.  Forbidding us to wear our traditional clothes.  Speak Mayan.. or hold land in common.  So we have to fight."

Trisha tries friendly persuasion.
He says there is a holocaust going on in Central America.  Cash cropping makes the people poor.  When they protest, they are shot.  They are herded into camps to be more easily managed.  When guerilla's are captured they are publically tortured and executed.  Trisha says that's the government not Multifoods doing, Xoyon says, "Scratch a government and you find a multinational, yes?"

Meanwhile Paul seduces Susan and has sex with her.  The next day Xoyon is still standing firm about not giving in to Multifoods.  The gang have a chat about Finn as they make to leave, apparently Finn's Green Army attacked a nuclear irradiator back in Britain.  Ivan says "It's not terrorism - it's eco defence."  When he then says they never caught Finn, Paul says he "must've found a good place to hide."
The irradiator crashes.
It starts to rain and they and the portable irradiator truck leave.  They negociate some treacherous roads and the irradiator truck's brakes fail and it plummets off a cliff.  Later Eve confronts Paul, saying she knows he tampered with the brakes  He sacrificed Sue's life in an irresponsible act.  Once again he tells her "Human life is meaningless to me." when Eve presses him about Sue.

Eve says the Mayan Indians paid the price.  The army thought they sabotaged the truck and steamed in wiping the village out and burning their maize fields.  Only a handful escaped.  Paul says she shouldn't lay a guilt trip on him, he didn't pull the triggers.  Eve retorts that he gave them an excuse.  He says he has to act to protect Mother Earth in the same brutal ways it's being exploited in.

Eve: "And that's your way... Finn."

The village pays the price.
The story then jumps forward a non-specified amount of time.  Eve, Paul, Ivan and Trisha are sat in the Freeaid compound.  There is a violent uprising going on and the government is falling.  Garry has had to leave as he contracted HIV from his slutting about.  In the compound are the upper classes of the country hoping that the west can fly them away safely.

They talk about what they'll do next, Eve says Multifood have offered her a scholarship to study in the US.  Paul says she's "selling out".  She says he can wear his own hairshirt, "it's better than killing people."  Then they are sent to collect some orphans so Multifood can get some good publicity in their final hours there.
Eve is distressed by the spare part kids.
At the orphanage they get the orphans then there are protestors outside.  Eve goes to talk to them then returns to the jeep and tells them to get the kids out and to hand them over to the people.  As they drive off, Eve tearfully says that orphanage was locally known as "The House of Frankenstein".  The orphans were being used as spare parts for rich westerners, one kid being worth around "two hundred thousand and a million dollars on the black market."

They report back to the Lieutenant saying they didn't find any children.  The Lieutanant doesn't really care, he makes sure the whole compound has been rigged to explode.  Then they get the final signal to get to the helicopters and leave.  Paul asks Eve is she has mentioned he is Finn in her diary, she says of course not, and as they leave he smiles to himself.
The rich fight  for worthless money.
Two million dollars is dumped in a fire as Freeaid leave, the rich scramble for it as it floats down. When they realise there will be no escape for them they start rioting and rushing to the helicopters.  Paul tells the Lieutenant he should have one last look around make sure they have everyone.  The Lieutenant agrees and Paul and Eve go off.  Actually what Paul is doing is defusing the thermite bombs so the compound won't blow and all the incriminating evidence of Multifoods and Freeaid's collaboration with the fallen government will be left for the rebels to find.

With that done they make their way back to the helicopter being chased by the rich people.  Paul makes it to the helicopter first and doesn't tell it to wait for her because he's a fucking prick, but luckily she is picked up just as it takes off.  And they leave the rich folk trapped and helpless behind them.
Eve is nearly left behind.
Later the new provisional government announce that their revolution was not communist inspired, "it is injustice - not Marxism - that is the source of our revolution."  He goes on to say certain documents have fallen into their hands and Multifoods may not be compensated for lost land.

Then we join Eve as she goes to see the Lieutenant.  He says "I'm sure you'll be a future asset to the company" and hands her a visa so she can go and do her studying in the US.  Before she leaves, he asks for the diary she's been keeping, "call it a small test of loyalty to the company."  He says it might be embarrasing if her thoughts got published somewhere.  "Everything costs something in this life.. surely you realised that? So.. what's it to be?"
Eve's conscience gets the better of her.
Eve then has a flashback to various people she met and realises she can't accept and tosses the visa back on his desk.  He shrugs it off saying she can't get it published anyway under the Official Secrets Act.  He mocks her writing and she says that at least "they've beaten you, they're free, they've claimed back their lives."  She starts hallucinating the Lieutenant looking like the Multifoods mascot as he says "have they really?"

Having failed to win their hearts and minds, they're going to do things "the hard way."  They might cut off their economic aid and blame the starvation on their leaders.  Or finance armed counter-revolutionaries to do the job.  They might even invade directly using manufactured evidence that they support terrorism.  When Eve says they'll be stopped, he says in a few years time everyone will do what the multinationals want.  "It's not 'later than you think'.  It's too late."  And Book One ends.
Multifoods personified.
This is a piece of work unashamed about its leftwing, anticapitalism, enviromentalist bias predating the likes of Naomi Klein's "No Logo" by many years.  I wish there were comics around today with the balls to critique the western world so directly.  One of the few I can think of is DMZ's angry condemnation of the War on Terror and even that had to make up a fantasy scenario where North Amercians were the victims and well as oppressors to make it more palatable for readers. Although there is a lot of talking, the five main characters are given just enough personality to make the dialogue seem natural because if you find yourself in the propaganda wing of western corporate interests of course you're gonna discuss it with your fellow "volunteers".  The build up to the reveal of Paul actually being Finn is a little unsubtle but I can't honestly say I did or didn't see it coming when I first read the series. Overall, it had a lasting effect on me, I joined Amnesty International age fourteen and incorporated a long-sleeved T-shirt bearing their logo into my school uniform.   I still donate to them monthly (and Oxfam too) to this day although my activism is restricted to what I can do in response to their email appeals. 

Third World War came out twenty-seven years ago and in highlighting all the horrible things the west did then to the Developing World, it's depressing to note that this kind of bullshit is STILL going on both as a part of the fallout from the War on Terror and in big corporations exploiting and cheating their dirt poor workers and propping up dictatorships all over the world still.  Bah.  This series did get a sequel which chronicles the further adventures of Eve as she returns to a Great Britain that is virtually a fascist state and is a far less effective strip as it exaggerates all the most paranoid intellectual left-wing fears of the eighties and extrapolates something that is so far removed from what the nineties and beyond were like that it verges on dystopian comedy.  I did intend to cover it but to be honest as a story it quickly devolves into a series of barely connected points about racism, animal rights and Northern Ireland meandering from one awful event to the next without much in the way of narrative glue holding it together as well as fetishising "blackness" to an incredibly uncomfortable degree.  very poor.  For now though, the original Third World War:  powerful, influential (on me) and radicalising.  Less a comic and more a treatise on how the world sucked and still sucks.  No wonder I grew up so cynical.