Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sino-Cit Judges

Chinese New Year is well underway, so to mark the occasion, here’s Judge Dredd’s judicial counterpart from the future Chinese megalopolis, Sino-Cit 2.
Yes, Sino-Cit 2 – the first and, presumably, largest of the Sino-Cities was overrun by zombies and nuked to prevent their spread, as were a few mega cities in the early Nineties ‘epic’ Judgement Day.
Anyway, what to say of Sino-Cit and its judges? Well, they’ve been seen twice in Dredd stories, and both fleetingly – once in a drug-induced hallucination of Dredd’s in a one-off story called War Games, which established their look as drawn by Paul Marshall. And written by Mark Millar, so don’t expect too much nuance to their cameo, they’re there just to have their bottoms handed to them by a scoobied Dredd. Nevertheless, the uniform design is there in all its briefly thrilling but ultimately unimaginative state – helmet, shoulder pads, belt pouches, mascot animal on the right shoulder (a rather un-Oriental looking dragon this time). Marshall’s original shoulder pads had a ribbed, bamboo look to them (sigh), but this disappeared by the time of the Sino Judges’ next Dredd appearance then rendered by Inako Miranda for Gordon Rennie’s Regime Change in the Judge Dredd Megazine. Ostensiby there to skulk about in a fleet of would be invading ships over Ciudad Barranquilla, they turned tail when Dredd got on the air and metaphorically handed their bottoms to them.

Depressingly, that’s all we have for Sino Cit in Dredd’s world to date, outside of Gordon Rennie’s martial arts detective pastiche Jonny Woo, set partially in the joint-Sino-Brit Cit territory of Hong Tong. I don’t have any of those strips, so my judge is based on the models provided by Marshall and Miranda.

In all, the Sino judges I think have been given the rough deal of being a little too close to the Hondo City versions (which is a tad racist, but then the Dreddverse certainly has form there) in silhouette and exoticness, and too close to the Soviet judges of the Sov Blok politically. Interestingly, it’s believed that Millar’s tale, combined with a second-tier arc about the rebuild of the (also zombie-nuked) west coast Mega City Two by – it depends on who’s telling the story, either Hondo or Sino Cities (see? Nobody even remembers the story well enough to tell the difference!) was intended to usher in a future ‘epic’ in which the Sino territories launch an attack on Mega City One. A change of editors at 2000AD put paid to that, and Millar left the comic for a lucrative career in thinly-realised hero thug stories in comics and film elsewhere and the rest is unknown.
These days I can’t see either 2000AD or the Megazine daring to go with that sort of storyline, and so perhaps for  everyone’s sake, the brief appearances of the Sino Cit judges are best left alone.

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