Thursday, 9 July 2015

Dredd. The man. The myth

Dredd never removes his helmet. Everyone knows that. It's one of those geeky facts that even grandmothers and serious journalists know.

So it could come as a surprise to find out it's not actually true. And I don't mean it's not true because Sylvester Stallone took the helmet off in his movie. It's not true, because the character of Dredd has removed his helmet in the main 2000AD strip several times over the past few decades.

The reality is that although the helmet doesn't always stay on, we never really see his face. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that John Wagner, Dredd's co-creator, said this is meant to represent the facelessness of justice. So not strong chin straps, then.

Back in the very early days, we got the following sequence. It's pretty much been ignored ever since.

The first time is always the most difficult

If it was simply that he never took his helmet off, it would somewhat undermine any sense of reality to the strip (outside of the talking ape gangsters, lizard-men assassins, crocodile-men mercenaries, rampaging dinosaurs, jigsaw diseases, outlandish plots and general ridiculousness, that is). I mean have you ever worn a motorcycle helmet? Never, ever taking it off, not for a second, is simply not an option. What if Dredd got a head injury? Or wanted to get some grit out of his bionic eyes? For that matter, how would the bionic eyes have got in there in the first place? And what if he just wanted to get a good night's sleep?

Here are a few more of the rare moments where we see him without his armoured head gear. Careful though, there's a spoiler at the end.

Okay, granted. He's only a kid

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dredd's ear 

He sits at his desk without armour? Next they'll be telling us he doesn't wear it in the shower

And then there was The Dead Man. This is the spoiler I mentioned, a story that packed a powerful and unexpected twist. And, as it turns out, it's a story where we hardly get to see Dredd with the helmet on. Here are a couple of pages.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dredd's eyes

As the late, great Terry Pratchett said “make a man a fire, he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire he’ll be warm for the rest of his life

This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list, just a few examples, but if you've got any other moments in mind, please feel free to post them in the comments, and I might even try to dig up an image.

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