||This comics-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (January 2010)|
|First appearance||2000 AD prog 160 (1980)|
|Created by||John Wagner
|Member(s)||Elmer "Pa" Angel
Mean Machine Angel
The most infamous and feared band of thugs ever to come out of Texas City, the Angel Gang were responsible for a near endless string of crimes with one overriding common factor - they were all quite unnecessarily violent.
Never ones to commit a murder when a vile atrocity would do, the Angels were led by the father of the Angel family, Elmer "Pa" Angel, and included three of his four sons:
- Link Angel - Link wears a biker costume and ring through his nose.
- "Junior" Angel, youngest of the boys, who wears a derby hat. He is the closest of them all to their sociopathic father.
- "Mean Machine" Angel, a cyborg. Originally, Mean was nothing like his deeply antisocial family, so Pa forced a Texas City surgeon to come out to their hideout in the Cursed Earth and surgically modify him. Originally he was depicted with parts of his skull covered with metal but now has a metal dome instead of a cranium. He also has a mechanical arm and there is also a dial on his forehead. The dial's settings range from 1, where he's surly and mean and nasty, to 4, where he's fully berserk.
- "Fink" Angel is the eldest of Pa's boys, and does not normally live with the rest of the family, preferring to live in holes he digs or finds. He has a skeletal face and unnatural skin colour, the result of years of radiation exposure in the Cursed Earth, and is the family specialist in poisons; he has poisons which can temporarily paralyze a victim, as well as ones that can kill quickly.
- Ratty, Fink's bowlerhat-wearing Cursed Earth rat companion.
Later additions included:
- Son of Ratty
- Mean Junior - Son of Mean and female desperado Seven Pound Sadie Suggs. A boy as sweet and gentle as Mean once was himself.
- Ratfink - The son of Fink Angel and an unknown mother.
In the "Judge Child" storyline, the Angels (minus Fink) have escaped from detention in Texas City, and are anxious to get off-planet. Hearing of the Judge Child's precognitive abilities, they obtain him from a carnival worker who's using him in a fake fortune-telling racket and take him along. The value of a child who could see and perhaps even influence the future was obvious, but the Angel Gang had to travel a long way before they could find a way to turn a decent profit from his capture. They finally arrived on the Planet Xanadu, where a mysterious and dangerous robot called the Grunwalder ruled over his own independent Kingdom. Pa Angel was keen to do a deal with the robot, hoping to exchange Owen Krysler for considerable riches - as well as protection from the Mega-City One Judges. However, Dredd caught up with the Angel Gang on Xanadu and he was prepared to kill them all in his quest for the Judge Child. Link was the first to fall, followed by Mean Machine, then Junior and finally Pa.
Later, Fink comes to Mega-City One to avenge his kinsfolk, murdering his way through the surviving members of the Xanadu mission. Dredd and Hershey gain the upper hand before their turn comes and Fink is imprisoned for the next three years. At this point Mean Machine is resurrected by the Judge Child to be sent back to Earth for revenge on Dredd, and joins forces with a freed Fink. Fink does not survive this second encounter with Dredd, and Mean begins a long on-off period of incarceration in Mega-City One, becoming a recurring antagonist for many years, with frequent jailbreaks and recaptures. There have also been some stand-alone stories featuring the Angel Gang, notably one where they were travelling in time after Mean Machine hijacked a time machine from a university and, not knowing what to do, decided to go back in time and find his Pa, who was always able to come up with a creative plan.
In 2000 AD Prog 958's Dredd story "Awakening Of Angels", John Wagner 'resurrected' Pa and Junior Angel by revealing that when Dredd threw them into the volcano they never actually died, but were instead trapped in a crystal-like substance which held them in suspended animation. This proved an unpopular plotline. Many readers felt it was cheesy and out of keeping with the spirit of 2000AD, which was never afraid to kill off its characters. Wagner later regretted the move, stating in an online interview, "We got away with resurrecting Mean Machine, I think. He was just too good a character to throw away, and somehow he suited miracle rebirth, but I confess in hindsight Pa and Junior were a step too far. I don’t think I’ll be using them again."  Their resurrection has since been quietly ignored.
In 2007 they appeared in two consecutive stories in Judge Dredd Megazine, focusing on the clan's earlier adventures: Before They Wuz Dead (an Angel Gang story) and Pizen Impossible (a Fink solo story), both by Simon Spurrier and Steve Roberts. The first strip fleshed out Link, revealing he resented that Junior got all of Pa's attention and that he had to do all the duller work (like cleaning the guns) while his brothers got to kill & interrogate people.
Megazine #273 introduced the previously unknown son of Fink, Ratfink Angel; he inherited his father's skills with poisons. Depraved and degenerate, Ratfink used to waylay travellers and slaughter them for both food and to make his furniture out of their remains; women who took his fancy were abducted and raped until he grew tired of his new "wife". The judges ran across one of his attacks in 2130 and were able to track him down and capture him, at considerable loss of life. Dredd ordered him interrogated and then executed. He was up for execution in 2134 but managed to escape, thanks to his unsuspected ability to control rats with sonic frequencies. He captured and tortured Dredd, but the judge broke free and dragged him back to the iso-cubes.
Judge Dredd movie
The Angel Gang appeared in the movie version of Judge Dredd. Like many of the characters who appeared in the movie, they looked much like their comic-book counterparts but acted very differently; the movie's Angel Gang were represented as religious fanatics and cannibals. Dredd refers to them as the "legendary Angel family" and explains that they are "Cursed Earth pirates, murderers, scavengers, and, of course, scumbags". Pa Angel was played by Scott Wilson; Mean Machine by Christopher Adamson; Link by Phil Smeeton; and Junior by Ewen Bremner. Fink did not appear in the film. Dredd encounters them when his shuttle is downed by them and they capture him, but he quickly frees himself and kills them all in combat.
The novelization based on the film took Pa's fanaticism even further—to "keep out evil spirits," Pa had sewn shut his ears, eyes, and mouth. He thus communicated in a series of muffled words and grunts.
- The Angel Gang: "Before they wuz dead" (by Simon Spurrier and Steve Roberts, in Judge Dredd Megazine #258-ongoing, 2007)
- John Wagner interview
- Megazine #273-7
- Megazine #328-30, "Ratfink's Revenge"