Cult Comic Essentials

Cult Comic Essentials: Judge Dredd – America

America” was a Judge Dredd story published in the Judge Dredd Megazine in 1990. It was written by John Wagner with art by Colin MacNeil.

The story opens from the point of view of Bennett Beeny whom we learn was secretly in love with his close childhood friend America Jara. As they grow up together, America becomes disillusioned with the Judges’ dictatorial rule over Mega-City One, and becomes a campaigner for the restoration of democracy. Beeny, on the other hand, is too afraid of the Judges to stand up to them, and just wants a quiet life; however his efforts to dissuade America from pursuing her dangerous activities are ignored. As graduation approached Beeny fears this may be his last chance to tell America how her feels so he confesses his deep love for her and she rejects him, saying that her love for him is only platonic. She leaves him to go to university with her boyfriend Doody, while Beeny becomes a successful singer of comedic songs and makes his fortune. Over time their correspondence dwindles to nothing.

We then meet Beeny many years later and we find he is still pining the one that got away. Since that time he has now resorted to using prostitutes, having failed to establish a long-term relationship with anyone else. By complete chance, one night the prostitute he approaches transpires to be America, who in fact is in disguise, as she is part of a terrorist cell which has laid an ambush for a patrol of judges. Before either of them can react to their unexpected reacquaintance, two judges arrive, and America and her terrorist comrades shoot them both dead. As they are about to flee from the scene of the crime, one of the terrorists, Kurd, sees Beeny and, ignoring America’s protests, shoots Beeny in the throat, so as not to leave any witnesses.

Miraculously however, Beeny survives and is rushed to hospital, where he is interrogated by Judge Dredd with Beeny typing his answers to an unsympathetic Dredd!. Beeny covers for America, and lies to conceal her involvement. Afterwards Beeny receives an electronic throat implant which enables him to speak again, but his illustrious career as a singer is over.

Once discharged from hospital Beeny returns home. America soon turns up to apologise for what happened, and to thank him for not informing on her. She also reveals the reason why she has turned from peaceful protest to violent methods. In 2109 she took part in the Democratic March, a peaceful demonstration which was subverted by undercover judges who provoked violence, in order to give the riot squads a pretext to attack the demonstrators. During the ensuing violence, her boyfriend Doody was killed and America – pregnant by Doody at the time – was seriously injured. While serving her sentence in custody, the judges scheduled her child for mandatory abortion due to genetic mutation. The experience left her traumatised. On her eventual release, she was consumed with bitterness and hatred for the judges, and she joined the violent anti-judge organisation Total War. After telling Beeny her tragic story, America unexpectedly makes love to him.

The next morning America asks Beeny for a large donation of money to fund Total War’s next operation. Initially Beeny is reluctant, since he does not approve of murder, and he also suspects America of cynically using sex and his love for her to manipulate him. However he eventually relents and hands over the money, since she assures him that nobody will be hurt, and he refuses to believe that she would stoop so low as to use him, preferring to believe that she is sincere…

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