Category Archives: the executioner 2000ad

The best ever stories in 2000AD part I – Judge Dredd ‘ The Executioner’ (1982)

The Executioner, 4 episodes, 2000 AD progs 291-294 (11/20/82 to 12/11/82). Story by “T.B. Grover” (Wagner & Grant), art by Carlos Ezquerra (source – http://www.2000ad.org/thrillpower/judgedredd1980s.html

‘Justice is done’

Part 1
The murder of reputed crime kingpin Hebby Swarf.A mysterious hooded figure. A note left by the bosy simply reads ‘Justice is done’. Judge Dredd is on the scene and believes (correctly) that a vigilante is on the loose.

Meanwhile, an attractive woman (rendered with some great art from Carlos Ezquerra, really capturing the beauty of woman with a futuristic look) books a table at the ‘Highlight Rooms’, as the TV news plays out in the background with its depressing list of despair and death. Later on, at the Highlight Rooms, the woman explains that she is waiting for her husband, then slips out, as the hooded ‘Executioner’ to deliver justice to ‘Mr Beauty’, a racketeer, and his henchman.

Again, the calling card is left.

Part 2
With the racketeer, Mr Beauty, and his henchmen dead, ‘The Executioner’ returns, plain clothed, to the Highlight Rooms. She explains to the Maitre D, as she leaves, that her husband will not be joining her for dinner. At the crime scene, Dredd leans (literally) on a witness to the vigilante murders. Despite the Judges being ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’ in Mega City One, Dredds view of vigilante ism is clear;

‘Murder is murder, no citizen can be allowed to take the law into their own hands’.

The investigation quickly progresses with a photofit of the suspect for the Judges to work on. In another plot development we see that the woman (aka ‘The Executioner’) has 2 children. As they watch the news of the killing of ‘nightclub owner and suspected racketeer’ Jack Beauty, the son tells his mother that Beauty was one of the ‘skunks who’.. but his mother hushes him before we learn ‘what’ exactly.
In the City itself, the mood of the citizens is firmly with the vigilante, if we can believe the vox-pop carried out on the tv news. The mother / Execuioner makes her excuses to leave to tend to their fathers affairs. The son and daughter, visibly upset, wish those that caused their Fathers death, dead.

The mother, listening from behind a door, vows to make it so.

Part 3

A TV poll shows only 1% of the population is against the actions of The Executioner. Following the photo fit breakthrough, Judge Dredd harasses a female judge, De Gaulle, who looks similar to the photo fit and could be the ‘perp’. She denies this accusation, and lie detector tests confirm that she is telling the truth. Dredd is called to a suspected Executioner slaying, but a clumsy ‘justice is dun’ note reveals it to be a copycat killing. The copycat proudly owns up to being the ‘executioner’ (which he isn’t), and for his trouble gets thirty years prison time.

Continuing her bloody retribution, The Executioner goes to ‘Chivo Bros Discount Depository of the Semi Dead’, where she books a suspended animaiton vault place for a Nicholas Tatum. As one of the Chivos Brothers recognises the name, the vigilante steps back and blasts him. Rafael Chivo, the other brother, realising that he is in grave danger, but fails to escape. He is knocked out, and when he regains consciousness he finds himself in a vault. Chivos is seen pleading that he did not kill Tatum, and the hooded figure agrees that he didnt pull the trigger, but he was responsible for the death of her husband. With that, she slams the vault shut, and Chivos is quickly overcome by liquid nitrogen fumes. Another ‘justice is done’ note is left at the scene.

Part 4

The Judges find the bodies of Mo and Rafel Chivo. We learn that they were body sharks – so, like the other victims of the vigilante, they were ‘villains’. When Dredd is informed at the scene that rookie Judge had found the bodies, Dredd realises that the killer must have been a rookie at some point, as he had already checked all Judges as possible suspects.
Quickly, Dredds bike computer confirms it – the Executioner is a Blanche Kominsky, a rookie who was expelled for an illegal liason with a non-judge. She later married, and became Blanche Tatum. Her husband, Nicholas, had recently killed himself after getting into trouble with loan sharks. The financiers of the loan were Swarf, Beauty and the Chivos brothers. Elsewhere, the mother and children have a tearful farewell, with the mother ordering the children to go to their grandmothers. It seems as if the children understand that this may be the last time they see their mother.

Judge Dredd, on the trail of Tatum, runs a check on any other people who may have been involved in the loan deal – and Dutch Sagans name comes up. The story then cuts to Sagan, who, fearful for his life, tries to call a henchman, who is already dead at the hands of the Executioner. She catches Sagan, who tries to escape, just as the Judges arrive in force. Blanche Tatum manages to hold off the judges while she corners Sagan, and as he cowers, she kills him, completing her revenge.

As she emerges from killing her final victim, Dredd tells her that it’s all over, to which Tatum agrees. She is brandishing her gun. Dredd responds quickly, shooting her and Tatum drops to the floor.

We learn that her gun wasn’t loaded. She obviously wanted to die, having got her revenge.

This is one of the great Dredd stories in my opinion. Very much a product of the times, when vigilante fiction was mainstream with the likes of the ‘Death Wish‘ sequel and the ‘Guardian Angels‘ were a very real representation of people power, this tale retains its emotional power today. Not because it is epic in scale, which it isn’t (though Mega City One is still coming to terms with the aftermath of The Apocalypse War). It is because the story is small scale and a very human tragedy. It deals with a family torn apart by death. A woman and a mother gets her revenge, but pays with her life. What happens to the children? Is revenge a valid course of action in a world where there are self-appointed Judges, who dispense instant justice? The story is taught and tinged with sadness, such as in the scene at the Highlight Club where Blanche announces that her husband will not be joining her, or when the children are seen, clearly affected by the death of their father. The final twist, where Tatum is revealed to have no bullets in her gun when she confronts the Judges, is a sombre one. Why did she want to die? To be with her husband? Because she couldn’t bear her children seeing her in prison?

The art, from original Dredd artist Carlos Ezquerra, is wonderful, whether it is capturing the idiotic posturing of the ‘wannabe’ Executioner, the tragic beauty of Blanche, or the final desperate moments of Rafael Chivo and Dutch Sagan.

A dark and sombre tale, and in my view, a classic from 2000AD.

The List – TWLBs Top 6 Vigilantes!

The TWLB guide to the man with the gun in his eye and a blade shining oh so bright (thanks Meat Loaf). As thrilling for a 13 year old (come on, is there really any other audience for this type of stuff??) as smoking fag butts at the back of the school bus, Vigilante films, comics and even videogames prove that sometimes, the wronged (wo)man can get his (or her) vengeance, can strike down those who have made them suffer, by any means neccesary. With excessive force. And extreme prejudice. etc.etc. Sometimes it can be gripping, sometimes stomach churning, sometimes exciting, sometimes…..daft, but vigilante fiction holds a lurid and voyeuristic appeal, and is rarely less than entertaining. And never dull. Here are TWLBs top 6;

6) Rolf – The Last Mercenary

A rare Italian action/exploitation flick directed by Mario Siciliano and starring Tony Marsina (from COLT 38 SPECIAL SQUAD). Rolf had a bad start in life – raised by a junkie hooker mother. As an adult he became a mercenary. His ex-partners (cocaine smugglers!) rape and kill his girlfriend. Rolf sets out to make sure his former accomplices pay their dues……Check out the trailer. There is disco music (courtesy of frequent Lucio Fulci collaborator Fabio Frizzi. Plus, flying children…….No, I don’t know either.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0200049/

5)The Exterminator (1980)

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Basically, the no.5 slot was a toss-up between Charles Bronson (as Paul Kersey) in the ‘Death Wish‘ series of films, or ‘The Exterminator’. In the end, I had to go for ‘The Exterminator’ because the whole mood of the movie is grim and fatalistic. Death, violence and sleaze seem to cling to the film stock. It feels grimy. It looks grimy. It is grimy. A fantastic exploitation film from 1980, directed by James Glickenhaus and starring Robert Ginty (who also starred in the post apocalyptic Italian Sci-fi ‘Warrior Of The Lost World’, featured in an earlier post). Very much of it’s time (the American soldiers Vietnam experience is a theme of the film) and borrowing from other brutal revenge / vigilante films of the time (e.g. ‘Death Wish’) ‘The Exterminator’ satisifies as a brutal, no-nonsense action thriller.

The film begins in the midst of the Vietnam War, where John Eastland (Ginty) and his buddy Michael Jefferson (Steve James) are American POWs of the Vietcong. During this opening scene we are witness to a brutal execution that involves the throat slashing and decapitation of an American soldier so severe that the head flips back with the force of the blow (all captured in bloody, visceral slow motion). It certainly grabs the attention (the effects were done by Stan Wilson, who later went on to work on blockbusters such as ‘Terminator 2’).

After this scene setter, Eastland and Jefferson make it back from Vietnam, but find the seemingly lawless streets of New York as hazardous a terrain as the war we have returned from. It is here that a gang called the ‘Ghetto Ghouls’ take revenge on Jefferson for his part in foiling a robbery. The attack on his friend leads Eastland onto a path of revenge, but his mission encompasses not only the ‘Ghetto Ghouls’, but also Organised Crime as a whole, including protection racketeers, Mob bosses, leaders of child prostitution rings and their clients. There’s some FBI involvement in the film as the agency tries to track down the vigilante on the loose, but that doesn’t amount to much. The focus is on Eastland and his vendetta. Its primal, thrilling stuff, seeing really bad people get really bad things done to them.

To dismiss this as a bad movie is a nonsense. It’s a tough thriller, with reasonable acting and fast pacing. A definitive revenge movie, and an essential vigilante movie.

There’s a couple of clips here of Eastland taking the law into his own hands, including the infamous ‘meat grinder scene’;

Meat Grinder Scene

Flame Thrower Scene

Links

The Exterminator on Wiki
Robert Ginty profile on Wiki

Reviews

Fast-Rewind review
BBC review

It left it’s mark. Apparently even Judge Dredds writers were inspired by ‘The Exterminator’ to produce a story called ‘The Executioner’, about a female vigilante in Mega City One. Speaking of which………..

4)Judge Dredd – ‘The Executioner’ (1982)

The Executioner, 4 episodes, 2000 AD progs 291-294 (11/20/82 to 12/11/82). Story by “T.B. Grover” (Wagner & Grant), art by Carlos Ezquerra (source – http://www.2000ad.org/thrillpower/judgedredd1980s.html

I just remember this being a cut above the Dredd stories of the time. A vigilante is murdering executive fat-cats and it is up to Dredd to stop the killing. It turns out the killer is a female, previously a judge cadet, who is avenging the death of her husband, who was worked to death by the corporation whose executives are now feeling the fury of a woman scorned…The moral ambiguity of Dredds role as ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ was brought into question – were the Judges any better than a Vigilante?

More information here;

http://www.2000ad.org/?zone=prog&page=profiles&choice=291

The Executioner 4 episodes (Progs 291 to 294) 26 pages
Script: John Wagner/Alan Grant, Artist: Carlos Ezquerra
Reprinted
The Best of 2000AD 18
Rebellion: Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 06
The Complete Judge Dredd 28
Titan: Judge Dredd Chronicles Book 4
Quality: Judge Dredd 34, Colour: Unknown

At the 2000ad prog slog blog, Prog 296 is reviewed, and mentions the recently finished ‘Executioner’ tale.

3) Guy, Cody and Haggar from Final Fight (1989)

We all know that vigilantism exists in videogames – it is one of the industries main themes, which, alongside space combat, sport, driving and conventional warfare, that could be depended on to be present in arcades. There are those that were around before, such as Double Dragon, but Final Fight is the premier vigilante side-scrolling beat-em-up.

The plot is simple and also compelling – in the fictional American city of Metro City “sometime in the 1990s” the newly-elected Mayor’s daughter, Jessica, has been kidnapped by Metro City’s dominant street gang – Mad Gear. By kidnapping the Mayors Daughter, Mad Gear hope to bring the official to heel – under their control. The Mayor, however, is a former pro wrestler who goes by the name of Mike Haggar. Haggar refuses to give in to the gang’s demands and sets out on a mission to rescue his daughter with the help of her boyfriend – a martial artist named Cody – and his friend, a modern-day Bushin ninja named Guy. With that motivation, the three set off on a journey of violence and revenge as they seek to bring down Mad Gear and rescue Jessica.

Despite overwhelming odds (the Mad Gear organisation seem to have an inexhaustible supply of ‘soldiers’, all well armed, all combat trained or adept ‘street fighters’) Cody, Guy and Haggar mount a rescue attempt by any means neccesary in the harsh urban nightmare of Metro City;

http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=7794 – Killer List Of Videogames (KLOV) entry for Final Fight

http://www.finalfight.classicgaming.gamespy.com/FFmain.html – a great site dedicated to Capcom’s superlative arcade game

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fight

2)Vigilante (DC comics) (1987)

There have been several iterations of this character in the DC universe – but it is the second version of the Vigilante, and in particular issues #39 and #40 of ‘Vigilante’, that stand out as being very powerful and emotive, as the Vigilante goes up against child abductors, traffickers and pornographers. There are no easy resolutions, and the whole thing is tinged with sadness, misery and an acknowledgment that even comic book heroes cannot fix the evils of child abuse and exploitation. The fact that one man is willing to take a stand is, however, thrilling and visceral storytelling and a highlight of DC output in the 1980s.

http://www.dcuguide.com/Vig/Vig_040.php Details on issue 40
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigilante_(comics) Details on the various Vigilantes in DC comics

1) Max Rockatansky (aka Mad Max)(1979)

He loses his best friend, then his wife and child to the manic ‘Toecutter’ and his gang of bikers / psychotics. He goes after them, relentlessly, and by the time he has caught up with ‘Johnny the Boy'(see above) there is not a lot of humanity or compassion left in Max Rockatansky. The violence wreaked upon those he loves (the act or the aftermath usually shown in unflinching detail) is more than matched by the cold-eyed revenge exacted by Max. Brutal and brilliant, with a superbly nihilistic ending. The fact that Mad Max 2 followed afterwards just makes me love this movie all the more…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Max

http://www.madmaxonline.com/ – A site maintained by cast and crew that celebrates the first film.

Mad Max original theatrical release poster;