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Prog 156: the saga commences


The Angel Gang's shocking exploits began in prog 160


A very fascist-looking Dredd (prog 161)

"He is fated to RULE Mega-City One in its gravest hour.....FIND the JUDGE CHILD!"

Thus spake the dying Judge Feyy, and although his pre-cog predictions were 'merely' 88.8% accurate, this was deemed more than enough for Chief Judge Griffin to order a team to locate the mutant boy known as the Judge Child, in a far-reaching mission that stretched across the galaxy. The search, of course, was headed by gritty, sombre Judge Dredd in one of his strip's finest extended stories, which ran for 26 chapters in 2000 AD in 1980 (progs 156-181).

Previous impressive 'Mega-Epics' had included the hyper-intense saga of The Cursed Earth, leading directly into the bizarre-but-brilliant The Day the Law Died, which also ran for around another mind-bending six months. (The story of the 'Robot Wars' led by Call-Me-Kenneth is seen by some fans, but not by others, as the strip's earliest 'epic'.)

The Judge Child Quest is as episodic and disjointed as The Cursed Earth, and the 26 chapters within this highly imaginative, if eccentrically-tinged hyperdrama ranks as amongst the most memorable of the fairly early Dredd period. Among its many highlights were the twisted Murd the Oppressor, the truly mind-boggling Jigsaw Man and, the icing on the cake, the unforgettable, sadistic antics of the evil Angel Gang, who must surely rank amongst the finest adversaries that the futuristic Lawman ever encountered. Their murderous and foul atrocities made up the bulk of many of the later episodes.

The Angel Gang were:

Pa Angel: aged around mid-50s, paternal leader of this unsavoury brood (Ma Angel died giving birth to Junior).

Mean Angel: easily the most notorious of the brood, Mean was partly-cyborg, with a maniacal temperament to boot.

Junior Angel: the most sadistic and evil of the entire accursed family, Junior revelled in his notoriety, and seemed addicted to meting out murderous treatment to virtually anyone other than his immediate family.

Link Angel: Link made up the numbers somewhat, but was capable of being a bad-ass when the need arose.

A fifth sibling, Fink Angel, left the brood long before they kidnapped the Judge Child, but turned up later to avenge the justice that Dredd had dispensed to his family.

Artists turning out excellent work throughout were Brian Bolland, Ron Smith and Mike McMahon.

Other key characters within the story included Judge Larter, Judge Hershey and Judge Lopez, who accompanied Dredd for the greater part of this mission, and Judge Winslow, who didn't. The Grunwalder, whom they met on the distant robot planet Xanadu, was to feature in a further two Dredd adventures. Old Joe Blind played a significant role within the Angel Gang sequences, although this character never extended into any spin-off stories as his life ended abruptly on Xanadu.

The entire story was later reprinted in full colour by Eagle Comics as Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest.

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