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On this day, 5 March 1977: 2000AD (Prog 2)

On this day, 5 March 1977: 2000AD (Prog 2)

On this day, 5 March 1977 … Surely there can be few things in life more exciting than the very first episode of Judge Dredd, the world’s greatest comic strip hero. And yet here they are: free biotronic stickers! I don’t own a set of these cyborg-converting marvels and I doubt I ever will – a copy of this, the second ever issue of 2000AD, complete with free gift – sold for nearly £350 on eBay the other day – but I know just how revered they are among those lucky readers who have been with 2000AD since the start.

But this prog is a treat, even without its freebies. The very first issue of Dredd is fascinating to read. It is drawn by Mike McMahon – controversially at the time, as Carlos Ezquerra, who had created the initial design of Dredd (used under the title), felt overlooked and subsequently refused to work for 2000AD for many months – and introduces us to a rangy, young Joe, already established as one of Mega-city One’s top judges. Dredd is a confidante of the Chief Judge and seems to have the authority to call most of the shots on the streets. Most fans of the character will be familiar with this single-episode story, in which Dredd takes down a judge-killing perp named Whitey. I wonder whether that final panel, in which the Chief says ‘Sometimes I think we’re all going to die like Alvin, Dredd’ (Judge Alvin was shot, and his corpse handcuffed to the handlebars of his bike which was returned to the Grand Hall of Justice on automatic), might one day be recalled as a prophecy of the nature of Dredd’s own death, when that momentous day eventually comes.

It’s not all Dredd and stickers though. Enjoy the scans below of some of the other great artwork in this comic. 2000AD’s plots may have been kids’s stuff at this stage, but there was no lack of talent nor maturity on display. In addition to the early McMahon work, just look at the quality of art from Gibbons, Belardinelli, Kennedy, Blasco and Boix.

 Invasion!: Gerry Finley-Day (writer), Jesus Blasco (artist)

Invasion!: Gerry Finley-Day (writer), Jesus Blasco (artist)

 Invasion!: Gerry Finley-Day (writer), Jesus Blasco (artist)

Invasion!: Gerry Finley-Day (writer), Jesus Blasco (artist)

 Flesh: Ken Armstrong (writer), Boix (artist)

Flesh: Ken Armstrong (writer), Boix (artist)

 Flesh: Ken Armstrong (writer), Boix (artist)

Flesh: Ken Armstrong (writer), Boix (artist)

 M.A.C.H.1: Robert Flynn (writer), Ian Kennedy (artist)

M.A.C.H.1: Robert Flynn (writer), Ian Kennedy (artist)

 M.A.C.H.1: Robert Flynn (writer), Ian Kennedy (artist)

M.A.C.H.1: Robert Flynn (writer), Ian Kennedy (artist)

 Dan Dare: Kelvin Gosnell (writer), Massimo Belardinelli (artist)

Dan Dare: Kelvin Gosnell (writer), Massimo Belardinelli (artist)

 Dan Dare: Kelvin Gosnell (writer), Massimo Belardinelli (artist)

Dan Dare: Kelvin Gosnell (writer), Massimo Belardinelli (artist)

 Harlem Heroes: Tom Tully (writer), Dave Gibbons (artist)

Harlem Heroes: Tom Tully (writer), Dave Gibbons (artist)

 Harlem Heroes: Tom Tully (writer), Dave Gibbons (artist)

Harlem Heroes: Tom Tully (writer), Dave Gibbons (artist)

 Judge Dredd: Peter Harris (writer), Mike McMahon and Carlos Ezquerra (artists)

Judge Dredd: Peter Harris (writer), Mike McMahon and Carlos Ezquerra (artists)

 Judge Dredd: Peter Harris (writer), Mike McMahon (artist)

Judge Dredd: Peter Harris (writer), Mike McMahon (artist)

 Judge Dredd: Peter Harris (writer), Mike McMahon (artist)

Judge Dredd: Peter Harris (writer), Mike McMahon (artist)

 Judge Dredd: Peter Harris (writer), Mike McMahon (artist)

Judge Dredd: Peter Harris (writer), Mike McMahon (artist)

 Judge Dredd: Peter Harris (writer), Mike McMahon (artist)

Judge Dredd: Peter Harris (writer), Mike McMahon (artist)

On this day, 6 March 1976: Jinty and Lindy

On this day, 6 March 1976: Jinty and Lindy

On this day, 4 March 1978: Cheeky

On this day, 4 March 1978: Cheeky