Monday, 27 May 2013

Judge Dredd: Firebug

NAME
Judge Dredd: Firebug

FIRST PUBLISHED
2000 A.D. Prog 60

DATELINE
15 Apr 78

PAGE COUNT
7

REPRINTS
Judge Dredd Chronicles Book 2, Judge Dredd 14, Judge Dredd Definitive Ed. Metal Fatigue, The Complete Judge Dredd 5, The Best Of Judge Dredd and Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 01.

SYNOPSIS
Dredd is on the hunt for an arsonist.

FIRSTS & LASTS
None.

INFORMATION
Mega-City One's stratoscrapers are equipped with glide chute to facilitate escape during a fire. Stratoscrapers conduct glide chute practice drills to prepare for emergencies. The Wengler Building is a very tall building in Mega-City One.

Judges have access to a machine which can remove a layer of an individual's skin and test it for the presence of specific chemicals.

The Reasonable Grounds For Suspicion Act of 2086, allows Judges greater discretionary powers.

Roboclinics provide repairs for damaged robots.

JUDGE DREDD
He is in charge of the rescue operation for a burning stratoscaper. He proves that the Firebug is McCracken and returns home to discover Walter's suicide note. Dredd put out an emergency call to track Walter down and is informed that the robot is on top of the Wengler Building. Dredd is present as Walter slips and is caught in a Police net. He has the robot repaired and files the deeds of ownership to make Walter his property.


OTHER CHARACTERS
WALTER THE WOBOT
He delivers Dredd sandwiches at the site of the fire rescue operation. He burns his freedom papers and has deeds of ownership drawn up which he then gives to Dredd who rejects them. Walter decides to throw himself off the top of a building, but the Police catch him in a net. Dredd has him fixed at a roboclinic and files the deeds of ownership making Walter firstly his property and secondly a very happy robot.



THE CHIEF JUDGE
He eats Walter's sandwiches and puts Dredd onto the trail of the Firebug.

CHARLES Q. McCRACKEN
Known as Chuck, he is the owner of several buildings in Mega-City One. He has been in financial trouble recently and set fire to ten of his buildings to collect the insurance money. He is nicknamed the Firebug. Dredd submits his top layer of skin for chemical testing and when the results show traces of petrol based fire-raiser, he arrests him for ten counts of arson and 718 counts of homicide.

ARRESTS
One. McCracken for arson and murder.

DEATHS
718 people died in the Firebug's fires.

BEST LINES
Glide Chute Escapee: "Be careful, you fool! Where were you during glide chute practice?"

WORST LINES
McCracken: "Sheesh!"

CATCHPHRASES
There's an "Aieee!" among the Firebug escapees, Dredd manages both a "Drokk it!" and an "Oh Drokk!", while Walter says bwief, cwipes, cwuel, dwawn, Dwedd, fweedom, fwidge, gwateful, misewable, pwecious, weason, wespect, wobot, sowwy, stwength, supwise, thwow, tweacle, twoubled and vewy.

CONTINUITY & CROSSOVERS
According to Walter it's the (one year?) anniversary of his receiving freedom papers, which is presumably a reference to 'Robot Wars', Part Eight.

INFLUENCES & REFERENCES
The Towering Inferno (1974), maybe.

MISTAKES
None.

RETROSPECT
None.

NOTES
None.

CREDITS
Script: John Howard
Artist: Mike McMahon
Letters: Tom Frame

REVIEW
Firebug's opening double page spread is great, insurance-related serial arson attacks are a satisfying down-to-earth crime with a believable motivation and removing a layer of McCracken's skin for testing is a nice touch, although the simplistic assumption that the owner would have acted alone limits the credibility of the strip. The story splits into two distinct halves and both try to be darker than the other. It's Walter and Dredd's anniversary and who could have predicted when they first met that the silly little robot with a speech impediment could ever have been suicidal? This strip earns it.

Next Prog: The Cursed Earth!