Garth EnnisJudge Dredd2000 AD
The Corps: Fireteam One
Medium: comic
Year: 1994
Writer: Garth Ennis, Si Spencer
Artist: Paul Marshall, Colin MacNeil
Country: UK
Keywords: Judge Dredd, 2000 AD
Format: 2000 AD 918-923
Website category: Comics UK
Review date: 21 March 2022
It should be good, but it fails. It's short, but that's fine. Theoretically, everything's there. The mission that goes wrong, the psycho teammate, the should-have-been-shocking ending... hell, even the art's good. This should have been a strong story.
It's an SF war story in the Judge Dredd universe. Mega-City One is fighting a war of attrition with the Klegg Empire, with a commando force (Fireteam One) of misfits and psychos deemed too unstable for street duty. Colony Troop Leader Keitel treats them as bombs on legs and couldn't care less when they start shooting their own side. Unsurprisingly, giving a sensitive mission to this lot doesn't go well. ("Sensitive" here includes the concept of taking prisoners, which perplexes and in one case overloads these hard cases.)
The main problem, I think is that we don't get to know the Corps themselves. We see a lot of Keitel and the new commander, Judge Vess, but it's hard to detect much personality in the Corps soldiers. There's the nutter Tarantino and... well, that's it, really. (You might have noticed some slightly tiresome names.)
I might also argue that the art's a bit too clean and pretty. It's as beautifully precise as you'd expect from Marshall and MacNeill, but it lacks the passion and adrenaline of the best war comics.
For what it's worth, Ennis hates this one. By the end, he'd lost interest and Si Spencer was scripting it for him. In his words, this was "an absolute disaster from start to finish. Alan McKenzie had wanted a war in space strip with Judges. I suggested something called Fireteam One, based on the marine teams who go in and kill as many of the enemy as possible. None of it was terribly original, but it would have been alright if whoever rewrote my scripts had left it alone. By the time they'd finished with it, I may as well not have bothered."
I can understand Ennis's anger and I agree that the story doesn't work... but, underneath, I think the material's strong. It's bewilderingly close to success. It would be interesting to play Fantasy Editor and decide how you'd rewrite this story to bring it alive. I'd love to see Ennis's original scripts, actually.