Originally published in Progs 918 – 923
Cover date: 16th December, 1994 – 20th January, 1995
I imagine if you didn’t know the cover dates for The Corps then you could probably manage to guess that it first saw publication during the 1990s. The 90’s were seemingly awash with Dredd world spin off’s, every country seemingly getting its own justice department strip. This was of course the decade which saw the beginning of the Judge Dredd Megazine, which at the time was exclusivly for Dredd world strips, so the quantity of spin offs must come as no great suprise. The Corps however is something of an oddity. Rather than being included in the Megazine, it instead saw its one and only six part run printed in the Prog. It was also different from the other spin off’s, rather than showing another cities judges we got to see Mega City One’s space corps in action instead. The Corps is not well remembered by fans, but maybe, just maybe, it laid the foundations for the much later, and more successful, Judges in space strip Insurrection.
The story premise behind The Corps is actually a pretty intriguing one. Mega City One is engaged in a full on space war with the Kleggs, with thousands being slaughtered on both sides. In order to turn the tide of the fighting the Judges decide to send in a Commando style attack on one of the Kleggs major fortifications. The problem with this idea is that the Klegg base is shared with Sino-Cit Judges, and so any attack on the base would mean war between the two Mega Cities. Thus a covert plan is hatched, in which The Corps must take out the base, whilst making it look like the Sino’s and the Klegg’s had fought each other, forcing the two of them into a war against each other. Perhaps not suprisingly things don’t exactly go to plan, and soon its down to the members of The Corps to try and avoid a major international incident. So the story is certainly an interesting one, and one which I think deserves a read from any 2000AD fan. One of the most effective ideas behind the story is the plot device which see’s the action constantly shifting from the battle in space, too the high ranking Mega City One Judges back on Earth pulling the strings. Its a nice tough of almost political drama, added to a full on Sci Fi space war.
While I thought it was an enjoyable read, I can see why others wouldn’t as it is a very flawed story. Firstly I’m not sure we’ve ever seen or heard mention of a war between Mega City One and the Kleggs before. Certainly the Kleggs have made plenty of appearances in Dredd over the years, but I don’t remember there ever being a war. I could be wrong on this though, so if I am please feel free to correct me in the comments box. Sticking with the Kleggs, they look very strange in this story. Usually they have been depicted as crocodillian in appearance but throughout The Corps they take on much more of a Lizard like look. This made it a bit harder for me to accept that they were the same race we had seen previously in the Prog. Judging by the story it seems like The Corps was always intended to be a one off rather than an ongoing series, unfortunatly this is actually one of the major problems at the heart of the strip. As you’d imagine The Corps is intended to be an ensemble piece, telling the tale of a group of soldiers involved in a terrible war. But at just six parts in length we don’t really get to know any of them, so by the end of the story when all but two are dead, the reader has been left untouched by any of the characters death’s. Also of course this is a 90’s strip so we get the obligatory tough guy character who seems to enjoy nothing more than a good fire fight.
I mentioned in the first paragraph that The Corps perhaps paved the way for the later success of Insurrection. Now the two strips are pretty distant in terms of quality, but the foundations were certainly layed here. Think about it, Judges in space fighting a war on some distant world, but one which could have dire consequences for the inhabitants of Mega City One. The uniforms even have a similar chunky appearance to the ones seen in Insurrection. So if you enjoyed Insurrection why not take a look back at The Corps? You might be suprised at just how familiar some of it feels.