The summer’s final blockbuster, Dredd, returns the titular character Judge Dredd to American pop culture; no huge surprise when you consider that Mega City One’s uncompromising law enforcer has been a fixture in comics since the ’70s. But those familiar with Dredd are more often than not unfamiliar with his origins–the U.K’s premier serial sci-fi weekly 2000 AD. And this is a damned tragedy–not just because 2000 AD has fostered some of the finest comic book talent in the world (Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Mark Millar, and Grant Morrison all found early success there) but because they have so many other cool characters that need to make the big screen!
If you crossed Roger Moore-era James Bond with Commando-era Arnold Schwarzenegger, you might come somewhere close to Devlin Waugh– The future Vatican City’s most eloquent gunslinging exorcist (with medals in flower-arranging and Olympic high-diving, no less.)
Unabashedly camp and with a razor whit, Devlin made his first appearance in “Swimming In Blood,” where he was called in to clear out a vampire infested futuristic prison. He was quick to imprint his personality on the page, introducing himself to his security detail with the line “The name’s Waugh. Devlin Waugh. I’m here to steal the show.”
And steal the show he did, taking on hundreds of murderous vampiric inmates with the aid of high-calibre shotguns, roid-rage boosted martial-arts and a catalogue of one-liners that would have Bruce Campbell himself shaking his head in admiration.
However, through all the blood and guts it is Devlin’s cool wit and debonair charm that really sets him aside as a great comic book hero. He’s so refined that, when infected with the same disease that turned the prisoners into blood-thirsty psychotic monsters, Devlin merely develops a craving for steak tartare.
Certainly a Devlin Waugh movie would take the sci-fi/action genre to bold new places–after all, how many action stars are openly gay, steroid-abusing priests? But it is perhaps for these reasons that play-it-safe Hollywood would never stump up the cash for the big-budget movie a personality like Devlin would need. Which is a shame, because imagine Tom Hardy bringing Bane’s bemused showmanship to Devlin Waugh!
THE A.B.C WARRIORS
Mechanoid warriors built to withstand Atomic, Bacterial and Chemical warfare. They are the soldiers of the future, each programmed with a unique personality– which already sets them streets ahead of Michael Bay’s Transformers, who were merely programmed with different racial stereotypes.
However, the events that bring the titular characters together take place long after the wars they were originally built for. Now, seeking a purpose that satisfies their programming, they work as a mercenary team, struggling to remain relevant in a world turned upside down by arcane religions, despotic governments and technology run amok. In short, if you replaced The Expendables with heavy-metal loving robots, you’d be getting the right idea.
What sets the Mek-nificent Seven apart from other robots is that they are well-developed characters, each with their own, differing motivations for fighting–whether it be honor, sadism, religion or outright insanity.
Bringing the A.B.C Warriors to the big screen would give us a kick-ass robot movie with maximum opportunities for humor, action and explosive carnage, and minimum opportunities for Shia LaBeouf.
Fun fact: readers who bothered to remember the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd movie will remember the cameo appearance of an A.B.C Warrior! Was it worth watching forty-five minutes of Rob Schneider for? No. Not really.
On first glance Lord Ampney Crucis seems to come straight from the pages of an Agatha Christie novel. A high-society intellectual (complete with monocle) teams up with his butler to investigate rum goings on in the heart of England. It’s all familiar ground to anybody who’s ever been bored/suicidal enough to watch a run of Miss Marple. However, what sets Ampney Crucis Investigates apart from the usual jolly hijinx is that his green and pleasant land is on the brink of being ripped apart by the hellishly unimaginable forces of darkness.
Having survived a World War I battlefield massacre that was itself beyond horrifying, Ampney bore witness to a Lovecraftian creature from another dimension, and was driven temporarily insane. Ampney returned from the war with the ability to sense the presence of otherworldly forces, and now, with his butler by his side, he investigates the supernatural goings on that have begun to infest the heart of England. So it’s like a P.G. Wodehouse novel if Bertie Wooster had gotten the ass-kicking he needed to toughen up a bit.
Unlike typical horror scenarios there are no desecrated tombs or haunted mansions in Ampney’s adventures– it is in quaint little villages and old-timey seaside resorts where he faces his foes, and this makes it all the more gloriously and terrifyingly incongruous when everything is ripped apart by hybrid bee-monsters or giant leeches. An Ampney Crucis movie would be a perfect excuse to fill the screen with looming, mind-bending cthuloid monsters.
Another 2000 AD stalwart, Rogue Trooper has been on the scene almost as long as Dredd himself, though where Dredd is the ultimate law enforcer, Rogue is the ultimate guerrilla soldier.
In a seemingly unwinnable war across an uninhabitable planet, the Nazi-like Norts and the American-as-apple-pie Southers fight in endless, bloody, dehumanizing battles. Wandering through the carnage is Rogue- a genetic experiment to make the perfect soldier: one resistant to the toxic atmosphere of Nu-Earth. With only the digitized souls of his former comrades for company, Rogue routinely fights and aids those who cross his path in his quest to find the Traitor General responsible for the slaughter of his battalion.
Like all good science-fiction, Rogue Trooper is a lot more about concepts and environments than plot, and bringing his moody, lethal world with its frightening high-tech weaponry to the big screen would provide an opportunity for some stunning film making. Think Mad Max meets the opening of Terminator 2 with a dash of Starship Troopers. Actually, typing that last sentence, I can’t think why this isn’t a movie already.
Sláine is 2000 AD’s answer to Conan the Barbarian, if Conan were somehow more of a psychopath. When it comes to treading a mythic land of might and magic, you couldn’t ask for a better companion than Sláine; the dwarf-kicking, tough-talking, tattooed berzerker who is often more terrifying and savage than the monsters he faces.
A Sláine movie would be a perfect opportunity to bring the swords n’ sorcery genre back to the big screen in a fresh new way, with a charismatic anti-hero who makes Conan look like King Arthur. If you’re still not sold on the idea, consider this; when times are tough and Sláine finds himself backed into a corner, his special move is to go absolutely bat$£!t insane. That’s it. That’s his entire strategy. And it works.
Oh, and he calls his axe “Brainbiter.” For obvious reasons.
So there you have it. By all means, enjoy the Dredd movie that’s already gaining kudos from critics and fans alike, but while you’re watching it spare a thought for the mountain of untapped cinematic potential left behind in the pages of one of the world’s most established sci-fi comics.
Steve Stevenson has a giant stack of 2000 AD comics that he likes to roll around naked in. He’s resident cartoonist over at The Leaky Wiki and you can follow him on twitter, if you’re feeling adventurous.
When Steve’s not writing about comic books and movies, he also likes to write about video games. What were you expecting?
Remember that time Steve taught us Harsh Life Lessons learned from Classic Video Games? We all learned a lot that day about life…laughter…and LOVE! But mostly plasma cannons.