Brit-Cit

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Brit-Cit
Publication information
Publisher Rebellion (2000 AD)
In story information
Type City-state

Brit-Cit is a huge fictional city in the fictional universe of British comics 2000 AD and Judge Dredd. The city covers the south of England and bordering on the Black Atlantic. It also has jurisdiction over Cal-Hab (Scotland), the South Wales Peninsula, and Murphyville (Ireland). It's the setting for many spin-off strips, including Armitage, Cal-Hab Justice, and Strange & Darke.

In the first mention of Britain in Judge Dredd, set in 2100, there is a reference to Brit-Territories[1]

Another Brit-Cit is the home of Sam Slade in some of 2000AD's Robo-Hunter stories.

Description[edit]

Brit-Cit has many similarities to Mega City One - it is crowded with a population of 160 million inhabitants who live in huge City Block apartments and unemployment and crime are rife. Quite a few examples of England's more classical architecture remains, and much of the lower classes live outside the city in decaying 20th Century houses. The city is split into Sectors, named after the original area they were built over, such as Oxford Sector and New Soho. Class divisions are rife. The BBC has evolved into the BCBC (Brit-City Broadcasting Corporation), which still runs a World Service (For King And Country audio). Brit-Cit society is also riddled with class division and privilege. While the country is officially run by the Judges' Star Chamber, the criminal Overlords and the surviving aristocracy are highly powerful; the Overlords tend to change, however, due to internal conflicts.

The Royal Family live inside the Forbidden Citadel, a bunker turned into an independent (and deliberately isolated) city-state from 2070-2114 before Justice Department took control.[2] Since then, the Citadel is no longer isolated and the Royals have been seen in the wider world. (The Student Prince, Prog 2002; For King and Country)

Brit-Cit has a special relationship with Mega City One (to the extent of being the only nation that didn't condemn President Booth during the run-up to the Atomic Wars) and the two work together quite often. Brit-Cit provided refuge for Mega City One Judges when Nero Narcos took over the city and covertly aided Judge Dredd in liberating the city with technical and personnel support. Brit-Cit contributed medical and technical personnel and commando units to assist in an international humanitarian mission in Ciudad Barranquilla. The two cities have also run exchange programmes with their Cadet Judges, as seen in The Hunting Party. Brit-Cit is aware, however, that Mega-City One is deliberately concealing an "Alpha File" from them that could shatter this relationship; spies sent to retrieve it have "disappeared", leaving Brit-Cit unaware that the File contains information about an atomic war in Britain in 2150.[3] In "Day of Chaos", Brit-Cit sent robots to aid Mega-City One but refused to send any humans due to the Chaos Bug, cases of which were already breaking out in Brit-Cit.

Civil War[edit]

Following the Atomic Wars, northern England and the Midlands were devastated and Brit-Cit faced chaos & instability, collapsing into civil war between any and all comers. The Royal Family fled to an underground bunker (which would become the Forbidden Citadel) and never re-emerged. A multi-faction civil war broke out, with the Emergency Military Government as the 'official' rulers; they eventually blockaded themselves into North London in 2079, and started to slaughter any opposition and carry out state terrorism on the civilian population. Other factions included the Gaels in the west, "Nomads" in the east, and psychotic mutant cults in the north. The early Judges formed in the south, and in 2080 they believed they'd soon have control of the whole country.[4]

The early Judges were formed by some of the ruling crime lords, who had banded together and taken Judicial form to beg for aid from Mega-City One. They eventually seized control, and the original backers became the Overlords.

The dates of the Civil War are usually not stated (Dave Stone admits he uses "Fudged Time" when writing Armitage [5]), but a story set in 2087 presents the Civil War as having ended around five years ago. By 2087, Brit-Cit was still a post-war state, with visible damage and food shortages.[6]

Law and Justice Department[edit]

The Brit-Cit Justice Department is based in the New Old Bailey. It is very similar in structure and effect to the Mega City One justice system, and aside from a few cosmetic differences (lions instead of eagles) even the Judge uniforms are the same. As such, the laws are harsh, with many crimes not found in present-day law, and the Judges have the power to act as both police and judge/jury/executioner, though they do portray more of a stiff upper lip when doing so.

The laws are more lenient in some areas though - Detective-Judges and Murphyville Judges are allowed to marry, several currently banned substances are legal, and the Dredd story The Satanist featured a perfectly legal Orgy Club in the outskirts of Brit-Cit.

Prospective Judges spend ten years at Hendon Academy, followed by twelve months on probation with a Judge.[7]

Due to the circumstance of the post-War Justice Department, judicial corruption in Brit-Cit has historically been a major problem. The Department has suffered from more racism and sexism than its counterpart in Mega-City One, and Masonic influences in the Senior levels. Senior Judges can buy their commissions in the same way as Victorian military officers. Most are incompetent or directly controlled by the crime lords and it is left to Street and Detective Judges to get the work done. The ruling body, the Order of the Star Chamber, were known for high institutional corruption, and were drawn from the ranks of pre-war politics, from business, and minor royalty rather than from the Judge ranks.[8] (At other times, a different ruling body has been shown: see "Depiction")

However, institutional corruption has gone down over time. This is partly due to the deaths of many Senior Judges, Overlords, and the entire Star Chamber,[9] and partly due to the rise of newer Judges who just see the crime lords as criminals. The demise of the Star Chamber was seen as a "bright new dawn for Brit-Cit", though nobody had worked out what this meant. Part of this has included the loss of many of the more incompetent Senior Judges,[10] as well as a mass of procedural nightmares as there's no longer a top hierarchy and no obvious replacement for them.[11] The Grand Order of the Privy Chamber - the future version of the Privy Council - ended up taking control by default, despite their previous unimportance and their reactionary social agenda, as there was no one else left.[12]

Specialised branches of the Justice Department include Dispatch, which handles communications, deploys Judges, and co-ordinates operations (equivalent of MC-1's Control); Riot Control; Psi Division, later named Psyk-Division, Med-Division; Shok-TAC, a heavily armoured armed response team, and Tactical Arms, a militarily uniformed group; the Special Judicial Service, a commando unit roughly equivalent to the modern day SAS; Special Branch, who run External Affairs (the equivalent of the Special Judicial Squad); the Endangered Species Squad, who capture fantastical creatures and attempt to breed them in order to rejuvenate the collapsing 22nd century ecosystem;[13] and CID, the investigative branch. Overseeing this are Administrators, who wear formal suits rather than a Judicial uniform, and lack judicial powers.

CID is not popular with the "uniform plods" but gained an unspecified autonomy following the end of the Star Chamber,[14] which ended with the rise of the Privy Council.

Judges of note[edit]

The most famous Brit-Cit Judge in Dredd strips is Detective-Judge Armitage, often paired with Detective-Judges Treasure Steel and Parkerston-Trant. A Tek-Judge called Rutherford, one of the city's best robotics men, played a primary role in ending Mega-City One's "Doomsday" crisis by reprogramming Nero Narcos' Assassinator droids. Detective Inspector Jericho Strange runs the Endangered Species Squad and is notable for his grotesque, sheep-skull head; in Strange and Darke, he's said to have his own TV show.

Murphyville's most famous Judge is Judge-Sergeant Joyce, who was originally part of the Judgement Day team, but survived due to his place being (forcibly) taken by Johnny Alpha.

Two prominent Brit-Cit Judges who were transferred to Mega-City One are Judge Stark and Judge (Amy) Steel, a sidekick for Dredd in the Big Finish audio dramas.

Cal-Hab, Wales, Murphyville and foreign territories[edit]

Murphyville[edit]

Murphyville is the urban settlement on Emerald Isle (formerly Ireland), which suffered heavy fallout damage in the Atomic War and was only reclaimed in 2095 due to Brit-Cit aid; in return, Brit-Cit corporations have a major hold on the Isle's government. Under the corporations, the entire island has been turned into a theme park based around stereotypes of traditional Irish life.

The Judge Militia rarely deal with serious crime and are more like the traditional police service than the Brit-Cit Judges, rarely needing to use violence (outside of events such as Judgement Day). The uniforms are highly distinctive, with the colouring based around the Irish flag, and they operate out of Murphyville Justice Central. Before Brit-Cit aid grants, the Militia used spud-guns which fired potatoes, due to the inability of the force to buy bullets.[15] Criminals are locked up in Kilmainham iso-cubes.[16]

Caledonia Habitat (Cal Hab)[edit]

Cal-Hab has traditionally been used as a dumping ground for toxic and nuclear waste (particularly the Dounreay Contam-Zone), which has turned much of the population feral. Until the early 22nd century, the "Caledonian Wastes" was looked down on as a lawless wasteland; in 2102, the newly established Cal-Hab and its judges were accepted into the world community. As part of this process, Brit-Cit set up the Song-in-the-Sky satellite network to bombard the locals with subliminal messages, making them more controllable.[17]

The Judges have added a Celtic helmet and kilt to their uniform, and are headed by a Chief Inspector under Brit-Cit authority. Traditionally, all judicial decisions are made from Brit-Cit and the best Scottish Judges were head-hunted for Brit-Cit roles, leaving the Cal-Hab Judges demoralised. (Many pubs are "Judge Free" zones[18]) There was a large amount of nationalism and desire for Cal-Hab to be independent in the 2110s, but the clan factions spent too much time fighting each other to be a credible resistance. However, in prog 1540 (2129 in Dredd chronology), Dredd and a Brit-Cit Judge remarked that Cal-Hab had been mostly independent for a century, which hadn't stopped hard-line nationalist paramilitaries from trying to separate the state completely from Brit-Cit - literally, with explosives. (see Depiction)

In 2116, empath Judge Schiehallion went mad, revealed the Song-in-the-Sky satellite to the public, and then destroyed it. Cal-Hab descended into violence, a Psi-squad led by "Brit-Cit Brute" was sent in but defeated, and eventually Schiehallion covered most of Cal-Hab in a huge psychic storm, known as the Flux, which has left a large part of the territory beyond anyone's control or comprehension.[19]

Urban areas before 2116 included the capital of Glascal, while others lived in rural areas. Post-2116, there is still reference to "Cal-Hab law" and there is a Ness International Hoverport and direct zoom trains to Mega-City One. The population is famed for violence, deep-frying everything, drunkenness and penny-pinching - Prog 1540 revealed it has only two charities and one of them is campaigning for an increase in miserly behaviour. In the rural wilds outside of the habzone proper live the "wild Scotties", who only enter to forage illegally and aren't protected by the law; this left them open to exploitation by body-brokers, implanting the brains of rich, elderly clients into young Cal-Habber bodies.[20] Doctor "Saint" Byron Ambrose carrying out charity work for destitute wild Scotties (until murdered and replaced by PJ Maybe).

Cal-Hab is also the home of trashzine artist Kenny Who?, alter-ego for artist Cam Kennedy.

In the Harlem Heroes strip, taking place before Dredd, Scotland was stated been an independent nation for some time by 2050. There was an oil boom in the 1980s that saw dozens of new townships built around the coast; when the oil ran out, the townships became destitute and the former oil men turned to the sport aeroball. The Flying Scotsmen aeroball team had a reputation as the toughest in the world.[21]

South Welsh Peninsula[edit]

The state of Wales is unclear, though the "Peninsula" name implies the Atomic War has altered the geography.

The only known settlements are small, rural villages. The coast was dominated by the massive Pembroke Dockport fuel refinery in Milford Haven, the source of a number of contaminants and spills that killed, infected, and sterilised small Welsh villages; the Justice Department was paid to ignore the environmental damage. The conspiracy was exposed in 2134 and the Dockport shut down. The village of Llandris has a breeding colony of satyrs and was declared a protected area by the Endangered Species Squad.[22]

Other Territories[edit]

The Turkestan Protectorates/New Raj Protectorate in Turkmenistan, occupied by the New Surrey Raj after the civil war.[23]

Brit-Cit has jurisdiction over half of Hong Tong (future Hong Kong).

Brit-Cit also had jurisdiction over the Rock of Gibraltar. However the British Judges decided to destroy this outpost with a Nuclear strike when the colony became too rife with criminal and terrorist activity.

Criminal influences[edit]

While Brit-Cit does have much conventional crime (or the 2000AD equivalent thereof), it also has faced a lot more body-horror murderers and more supernatural crimes, with Satanic cults all over the place. It is also the home of the major crime lord Efil Drago San, who along with other crime lords was directly controlling the higher-ranking Judges in the Armitage strips. Having killed many senior Judges and crime lords for his own reasons, Drago San is very unpopular with his fellow crime lords and in the Dredd audio dramas he was hiding out offworld before being finally arrested.

The wild Scotties of Cal-Hab have been seen as easy fodder for body brokers, while nationalist terror groups like the Mental Tartan Army attempt liberation by outlandish schemes such as literally trying to separate Cal-Hab from Brit-Cit via nuclear explosions.

Depiction[edit]

Brit-Cit has contradictory depictions depending on who is writing. Under Dave Stone, Brit-Cit was considerably fleshed out and there was much focus on institutional corruption; John Wagner, who originally created Brit-Cit, has ignored this in his Dredd stories and has the Justice Department as being more like Mega-City One's. When Dredd visited Brit-Cit in "Doomsday", instead of the Star Chamber we saw a Chief Judge and a large governing body in an open assembly room. For the most part, this can be explained away as Dredd looking at Brit-Cit from a different angle to Armitage. When Brit-Cit Judges have been used by other writers ("Regime Change" by Gordon Rennie, "Splashdown" by Simon Spurrier), they tend to follow the Wagner model. One other minor divergence is that the Royal Family lack any political status in Brit-Cit in Armitage, whereas For King and Country presents the Royal Family as the constitutional heads of Brit-Cit.

Brit-Cit has appeared several times in the Big Finish 2000AD audio dramas. Both the Stone & Wagner versions Brit-Cit justice were used in the Dredd audio play Get Karter!, while For King And Country uses elements from the Armitage strips (the Forbidden Citadel and Star Chamber) while portraying the Brit-Cit Justice Department as mainly effective.

The origin of Justice Department and Brit-Cit's history is also contradictory. Dave Stone's version was that Brit-Cit was a "global irrelevance" by the time of the Atomic Wars and only faced fall-out rather than a direct assault as it wasn't worth bombing; Justice Department only existed after the fallout and resulting civil war, and was created solely by organised crime for aid. "Hardly anyone else on the job agrees with me."[24][dead link]

Indeed, it has been contradicted by other Brit-Cit stories - Meet Darren Dead (Megazine #240) and Wagner's "Judge Dredd: Origins" both show Brit-Cit being bombed during the war (Darren Dead refers to the city almost being annihilated). Darren Dead indicates that there were no Judges in existence pre-War (the titular character is unfamiliar with them after missing the years 2070-2127), in line with Armitage, though "Origins" states the Judge System was already in its infancy in the 2050s (albeit never stating it had reached Britain).

Cal-Hab has had multiple cameo appearance's in the stories of Wagner and Alan Grant, nearly all of which are played for laughs and which focus on Scottish humour. Jim Alexander's Cal-Hab Justice, on the other hand, was often quite grim and focused on political allegories for mid-90s Scottish issues; the city-state was also shown to be under heavy Brit-Cit control. Gordon Rennie's "Judge Dredd: Tartan Terrors" (#1540) played Cal-Hab for laughs but in a slightly more aggressive manner, such as introducing penny-pinching as a Cal-Habber trait (an old Scottish stereotype); it also referred to Cal Hab as having political independence for a century. In the letters page for #1547, editor Matt Smith (via Tharg the Mighty) openly admitted that Gordon Rennie was ignoring Cal-Hab Justice. Cal-Habbers are also shown to have virtually indecipherable accents (especially heard in the Big Finish audio story - Jihad)

Murphyville and its Judges have mostly been seen in stories by their creator Garth Ennis, who used them to play with Irish political issues and stereotypes for comedic purposes. An exception was the Dredd story "Crusade" (by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar), which had an Irish Judge secretly working with a Vatican Judge-Inquisitor.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Prog #50: "The First Luna Olympics"
  2. ^ Megazine 2.18
  3. ^ Megazine #283, Judge Dredd: The Americans
  4. ^ Judge Dredd Megazine 2.31-33, "Armitage: Flashback II"
  5. ^ http://www.2000adreview.co.uk/forums/index.php?showtopic=2409&st=0&p=40234&entry40234
  6. ^ Armitage: Flashback, Megazine 2.19 - 2.21
  7. ^ Judge Dredd Megazine #1.10
  8. ^ Megazine 3.65
  9. ^ Judge Dredd: Psyko-Geddon novel
  10. ^ Megazine #287
  11. ^ Megazine #289
  12. ^ Megazine #319
  13. ^ Judge Dredd Megazine #319, Strange and Dark
  14. ^ Megazine #266, Armitage: Dumb Blonde
  15. ^ 2000AD #727-32, Emerald Isle
  16. ^ "When Irish Pies Are Smiling", Judge Dredd Yearbook 1993
  17. ^ Megazine 2.64 to 2.66: "Cal-Hab Justice: Family Snapshot"
  18. ^ Megazine 2.63 - "Cal-Hab Justice: McTash"
  19. ^ Cal-Hab Justice: False Dawn, Megazine 2.67-72
  20. ^ Progs 1234-6
  21. ^ 2000 AD progs 12-15
  22. ^ Strange and Darke: New Blood, Megazine 319-323
  23. ^ The Medusa Seed and Megazine #270, Armitage: Dumb Blonde
  24. ^ http://www.2000adreview.co.uk/forums/index.php?showtopic=2295

Links[edit]