Sunday, March 10, 2013

2000AD Prog 1823 - A medical review

Haven't done one of these in a while but there's another medical storyline in the latest Judge Dredd strip, Black Kisses by T.C.Eglington, with art by Karl Richardson and letters by Annie Parkhouse.

Spoiler warning. The following contains minor spoilers for a story which, at the time of writing, isn't on the newsstands yet. Look away now.

Black Kisses is quite a neat stand alone Dredd tale about an infectious tattoo that is killing people. There is a bit of social commentary about the perils of promiscuity, revenge and sexually transmitted diseases while Dredd solves the mystery and deals with an incompetent rookie Judge.

In this scene a Tech Judge carries out a post mortem on one of the victims and explains how the tattoo is passed from person to person like a virus. Click below for a larger image.

Naon-technology is the current "go to" concept for science fiction writers when they want to explain any bit of magic, but we can't hold that against Eglington, everyone is using it at the moment. However. he does get his skin pigments slightly wrong. Skin colouration is caused by the body's melanocyte cells which produce different types of the pigment Melanin. Brown or black skin tones are caused by the Eumelanin pigment which is the variety we produce when our skin starts to tan. But the Tech Judge refers to Pheomelanin which causes a red colouration. We all produce a certain amount of Pheomelanin for the red areas of our bodies, lips and nipples and so on. Some individuals produce a lot of this red chemical, so you could say it is the Ginger pigment.

If the story had been called "Red Kisses" the Tech might have got away with it, but as the transmitted tattoos are clearly black in colour then I think what he meant to say was Eumelanin. Still a slip of the tongue (or of the google) shouldn't subtract from what is a pretty good Dredd story with a clever plot device. 3 out of 5 medic-droids.

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