Tour of Duty (Judge Dredd story)

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"Tour of Duty"
Publisher Rebellion Developments
Publication date 26 August 2009 – 14 July 2010
Genre
Title(s) 2000 AD #1650–1693
Main character(s) Judge Dredd
Judge Sinfield
PJ Maybe
Creative team
Writer(s) John Wagner
Al Ewing
Gordon Rennie
Robbie Morrison
Artist(s) Colin MacNeil
P. J. Holden
Mike Collins
Paul Marshall
Cliff Robinson
Jon Haward
John Higgins
Carlos Ezquerra
Letterer(s) Annie Parkhouse
Colourist(s) Chris Blythe
Gary Caldwell
Sally Hurst
Hector Ezquerra
Editor(s) Tharg (Matt Smith)
Backlash ISBN 1-907519-23-8
Mega-City Justice ISBN 9781907992391

"Tour of Duty" is a Judge Dredd story published in British comic 2000 AD (2009–2010). It lasted for 46 episodes, 39 of which were written by John Wagner. It has the second greatest number of episodes and pages (285) of any Judge Dredd story. It is part of a longer storyline about mutants.

Plot summary[edit]

Prologue[edit]

The prologue "Under New Management," in 2000 AD #1649, sets the scene for "Tour of Duty," which began in the next issue. It is the first day in the term of office of new Chief Judge Dan Francisco, who in an earlier story has won an election for chief judge after campaigning on an anti-mutant platform.[1] He exiles his predecessor as chief judge, Judge Hershey, and Judge Dredd from the city, due to their strong support for mutant rights. Francisco stops mutant immigration into Mega-City One and begins a policy of encouraging mutants to leave the city and live in four townships being built in the Cursed Earth, the inhospitable, radioactive desert outside the city. Dredd is put in charge of overseeing the construction and development of the townships, ostensibly because he is the best man for the job, but really in order to keep him out of the way. As a further punishment, Dredd's protégé Judge Beeny is sent with him as his deputy.

"Tour of Duty"[edit]

In Mega-City One, Chief Judge Francisco decides that the mutant townships are not good enough, and insists on spending more money on them to ensure that the mutants enjoy adequate standards of living. Deputy Chief Judge Sinfield objects, regarding the expense as an unnecessary burden on the city's budget, but Francisco overrules him, reasoning that the mutant expulsions should at least be done with some humanity. Francisco's relative leniency towards the mutants—in spite of the fact that he supports forcing them to choose between mandatory sterilisation or exile—begins to cost him the support of the hardliners, such as Sinfield, who put him in office in the first place.[2]

Meanwhile in the Cursed Earth, Dredd is assigned four judges, one for each township. Not only is four judges not enough, but each of them is inadequate to the task before them, due to some deficiency – Cunningham never completed his Cursed Earth survival training, Munn is insubordinate, Heck is incompetent and Ramone is addicted to medication. Dredd takes this as a sign of the low priority accorded to his mission.[3] Dredd insists that one judge per township is not sufficient to maintain order, and urges Sinfield to send greater numbers, but Sinfield refuses. Instead, Dredd is forced to create an amateur police force by deputising some of the mutants.[4]

The new townships are soon threatened by a vicious gang of violent mutants, led by a psychic called Pink Eyes, who has telekinetic powers. Dredd pre-emptively kills many of them, but fails to prevent an attack on one of the townships by the survivors. The gang slaughters scores of mutants, kidnaps Judge Munn, and vanishes. When Sinfield calls off the search for Munn after only a few days, Dredd is disgusted by Sinfield's dereliction of duty, saying "He's not fit to wear the badge ... something will have to be done."[5]

Dredd eventually manages to find the gang, ruthlessly exterminate them all, and rescue Munn. However Pink Eyes has tortured Munn so brutally that he is left with permanent brain damage and is unable to return to duty, or even to a normal life. Dredd holds Sinfield responsible and decides to lodge a formal complaint against him, but when he goes to see the chief judge, he discovers that in his absence, Francisco has resigned due to his poor health, and Sinfield has become acting chief judge. Unknown to Dredd, Sinfield has secretly drugged Francisco with an illegal hypnotic drug in order to persuade him to resign and take his place, in order to impose harsher policies against mutants. Sinfield orders Dredd to return to the Cursed Earth until his complaint can be heard by the Council of Five.[6]

The story described so far was all written by John Wagner. There then follow seven episodes comprising three stories, written by Al Ewing, Gordon Rennie and Robbie Morrison, describing Dredd's further adventures in the Cursed Earth, in which Dredd deals with other dangerous situations.[7] Wagner returned to "Tour of Duty" in 2000 AD #1674 with a 13-episode segment subtitled "The Talented Mayor Ambrose."

"The Talented Mayor Ambrose"[edit]

"The Talented Mayor Ambrose"
Publisher Rebellion Developments
Publication date 3 March – 26 May 2010
Title(s) 2000 AD #1674–1686
Main character(s) Judge Dredd
PJ Maybe
Chief Judge Sinfield
Creative team
Writer(s) John Wagner
Artist(s) John Higgins
Colin MacNeil
Mike Collins
Colourist(s) Chris Blythe
Sally Hurst

Dr Byron Ambrose is the mayor of Mega-City One. He is also, unknown to everyone, the infamous serial killer PJ Maybe in disguise, having murdered the real Ambrose and stolen his identity some years earlier.[8]

On his first day in office as acting chief judge, Sinfield summons the mayor to his office and orders him to raise taxes and cut back on his popular social programmes, to make up for the shortfall in the city's budget caused by the expensive mutant township project. When the mayor protests, Sinfield threatens to undermine his re-election campaign if he does not do as he is told. Furious, Maybe decides to assassinate Sinfield, and infects him with deadly fungal spores. When Sinfield unexpectedly survives, Maybe covertly injects him with deadly bacteria, but again Sinfield pulls through. Realising that somebody is trying to kill him, Sinfield decides he wants the city's best judge to investigate, and puts Dredd in charge of the case, knowing that even though Dredd wants Sinfield to resign, his sense of duty will ensure that he is diligent in finding the assassin. Dredd brings Beeny with him to assist him.[9]

Frustrated by his double failure to kill Sinfield, Maybe becomes impatient and sends a robot, disguised as Judge Hershey, to infiltrate the Grand Hall of Justice and assassinate him. By chance Dredd happens to be there, and destroys the robot. DNA found on the robot is traced back to Ambrose, since Maybe had swapped his own DNA for Ambrose's in Justice Department's records when he stole Ambrose's identity. Maybe is arrested and interrogated by Beeny. However his true identity is exposed when Dredd obtains an old sample of Maybe's DNA from an archived evidence file and sends it for forensic analysis. When it matches Ambrose's DNA record, Maybe confesses.[10]

"Mega-City Justice"[edit]

"Mega-City Justice"
Publisher Rebellion Developments
Publication date 2 June 2010 – 14 July 2010
Title(s) 2000 AD #1687–1693
Main character(s) Judge Dredd
Chief Judge Sinfield
Creative team
Writer(s) John Wagner
Artist(s) Carlos Ezquerra
Colourist(s) Hector Ezquerra

"The Talented Mayor Ambrose" was followed by "Mega-City Justice," the concluding chapter of "Tour of Duty."

In the opening episodes PJ Maybe is sentenced to death. The public are told that Mayor Ambrose died of natural causes.[11] The story then returns to the feud between Dredd and Chief Judge Sinfield.

The Council of Five dismisses Dredd's complaint against Sinfield,[12] after Sinfield ensures a favourable outcome by appointing three of his hardline supporters as new Council members.[13] Dredd responds by running for election to the office of chief judge.[14] However in order to gain enough support, Dredd has to agree to compromise on the issue of mutant rights.

During the election campaign, which polls suggest Dredd is winning, Maybe – hoping for a reprieve – tells Dredd that he suspects that Sinfield drugged Francisco, as Maybe recognises the symptoms, having used the same drug extensively on his own victims. After an investigation, Sinfield is arrested by Judge Buell, and the drug is discovered in Sinfield's safe. Sinfield is removed from office and sentenced to 20 years. Francisco is reinstalled as chief judge, and appoints a new Council of Five, which includes Dredd, his exile finally over. The Council (Dredd dissenting) votes to commute Maybe's sentence to life in recognition of his aid.[15]

Follow-ups[edit]

The events of "Tour of Duty" would carry on into later strips:

  • "The Skinning Room" had Sinfield's arrival on the Titan penal colony. The Council of Five decided to make his sentence public and decided to end the Sinfield-caused crime wave and contempt for authority with a crackdown on Sector Fifty. Dredd was disgruntled and bored by his Council status, drifting off in the middle of meetings (to Francisco's amusement), but took advantage of his status to commandeer vast resources for the crackdown.[16]
  • The Mega-City economy was left in disarray by Sinfield, leading to cuts under the "Big Community" slogan.[17]
  • "The Family Man" in Megazine #312-3 showed Township Three was flourishing - to the extent that norm citizens were using face-changers and fake ID to disguise themselves as mutants, disgruntled that only mutants could live in these less violent, more liberal areas. A faction within Justice Department's Black Ops, however, assassinated them all and the judge in charge of Three with them, allowing them to install a Sinfield-era hardliner who would deliberalise the township.
  • PJ Maybe would escape before the start of the next epic, "Day of Chaos". The townships would become involved at the end of that story, voting to send a 40,000 strong army to aid the devastated city.

Publication history[edit]

The prologue, "Under New Management," was written by John Wagner, with art by Carl Critchlow, in 2000 AD #1649 (2009).

"Tour of Duty" began in 2000 AD #1650. After the first six episodes, the story was divided into sections, each with their own subtitle. Except where otherwise indicated, all episodes were written by John Wagner and coloured by Chris Blythe.

  • "Tour of Duty," art by Colin MacNeil (first 6 episodes), in 2000 AD #1650–1655 (2009)
    • "Interlude: Mega-City One," art by P. J. Holden, in #1656
    • "The New Deal," art by Mike Collins, in #1657
    • "Snake," art by Mike Collins, in #1658
    • "Pink Eyes," art by Mike Collins, in #1659–1663
    • "Gore City," art by Colin MacNeil, in #1664–1667 and #2010 (special New Year issue) (2009–2010)
    • "O Little Town of Bethlehem," written by Al Ewing, art by Paul Marshall (colours by Gary Caldwell), in #2010 (between #1665 and #1666)
    • "Dragon's Den," written by Gordon Rennie, art by Cliff Robinson (parts 1 and 2) and P. J. Holden (parts 3 and 4), in #1668–1671
    • "Lust in the Dust," written by Robbie Morrison, art by Jon Haward, in #1672–1673
    • "The Talented Mayor Ambrose," art by John Higgins (colours by Higgins and Sally J. Hurst) (parts 1–5 and 11–12), Colin MacNeil (parts 6–10), and Mike Collins (part 13), in #1674–1686
    • "Mega-City Justice," art by Carlos Ezquerra (colours by Hector Ezquerra), in #1687–1693

Collected editions[edit]

The series and its prequels were collected into trade paperbacks.[18] All stories listed below were written by John Wagner, unless otherwise indicated.

  • Tour of Duty: The Backlash (272 pages, September 2010, ISBN 978-1-907519-23-9) collects:
    • "The Streets of Dan Francisco" (art by Rufus Dayglo, in 2000 AD #1520, 2007)
    • "Fifty-Year Man" (art by Patrick Goddard, in 2000 AD #1536, 2007)
    • "Mutants in Mega-City One" (art by Colin MacNeil, in 2000 AD #1542–1545, 2007)
    • "The Facility" (art by Colin MacNeil, in 2000 AD #1546, 2007)
    • "The Secret of Mutant Camp 5" (art by Colin MacNeil, in 2000 AD #1547–1548, 2007)
    • "The Spirit of Christmas" (art by Colin MacNeil, in 2000 AD #2008, 2007)
    • "Emphatically Evil: The Life and Crimes of PJ Maybe" (art by Colin MacNeil, in 2000 AD #1569–1575, 2008)
    • "...Regrets" (art by Nick Dyer, in 2000 AD #1577–1581, 2008)
    • "The Edgar Case" (art by Patrick Goddard and Lee Townsend, in 2000 AD # 1589–1595, 2008)
    • "Mutie Block" (art by Kev Walker, in 2000 AD #1600–1603, 2008)
    • "Mutopia" (written by Al Ewing, with art by Simon Fraser, in 2000 AD #1611-1612, 2008)
    • "Backlash" (art by Carl Critchlow, in 2000 AD #1628–1633, 2009)
  • Tour of Duty: Mega-City Justice (June 2011, ISBN 978-1-907992-39-1) collects:
    • "Under New Management" (art by Carl Critchlow, in 2000 AD #1649, 2009)
    • "Tour of Duty" (all John Wagner episodes listed above)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 2000 AD #1628–1633
  2. ^ 2000 AD #1651
  3. ^ 2000 AD #1651
  4. ^ 2000 AD #1659
  5. ^ 2000 AD #1657–1663
  6. ^ 2000 AD #1664–1667 and #2010
  7. ^ 2000 AD #2010 and #1668–1673
  8. ^ Judge Dredd Megazine #231–234
  9. ^ 2000 AD #1674–1680
  10. ^ 2000 AD #1682–1686
  11. ^ 2000 AD #1687–1688
  12. ^ 2000 AD #1689
  13. ^ 2000 AD #1674
  14. ^ 2000 AD #1690
  15. ^ 2000 AD #1691–1693
  16. ^ Progs 1700-1704
  17. ^ Prog 2011 and Megazine #312
  18. ^ 2000 AD #1697

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Origins
Major Judge Dredd stories
2009–10
Succeeded by
Day of Chaos