Damned (2018)

History

First published in Progs 2081-2093 in 2018.

Writer: Kek-W

Artist: David Kendall

Damned continues the Fall of Deadworld prequel saga which we last looked at with Cursed.  It’s worth noting that there was a story inbetween, Ava, but that one didn’t feature any of the Dark Judges, even in passing.  But it’s worth checking out as it does introduce a character that appears in Damned.  

At this point, you’ll realise that we are huge fans of the work Kek-W and David Kendall have been doing with Fall of Deadworld, and so it’s no surprise that Damned hasn’t changed that.  The story is certainly weighty, running across thirteen Progs and at 60 pages, and so we have lots of room for Kek-W to continue developing the characters, especially Jess Childs who is a very different character to the young girl we met in Tainted.

What’s really great though is the fact that we get a really good look at Judge Death and the way his mind works.  Fire isn’t shown in this story.  However, Mortis and Fear are.  Mortis is shown to be possibly the only person that Judge Death trusts thanks to him being just as obsessed with their mission as Death is.  Fear, who as a character has been massively improved by Kek-W along this whole series, gets some page time too.  Also, Psiren continues to be the real star of the show.  The Kek-W stories haven’t hugely explored the ‘extra’ Dark Judges but Psiren is fast becoming one of our favourites.

As ever, this is essential reading and if you pick up the collected volume (the second of the Fall of Deadworld books), you’ll also get Ava included.  Kek-W’s writing is as good as ever here with some big moments that really surprised us while David Kendall’s artwork is as superb as ever.

 

*spoilers ahead*

Plot Overview

Damned begins with Jess and Agatha Proudwater, the psychic resistance fighter, exploring a vision.  Jess sees the world has ended and that she’s the last one alive, being chased by ‘The Boneman.’

Agatha explains that since her encounter with Sister Psiren, she’s been getting darker visions than ever.  Of course, we already know that this encounter also had an effect on Psiren who now remembers who she was and she is seeing the Sisters of Death for what they are, something distinctly not human.

They head to the border of the Fracklands and Amexico, where the resistance headquarters are.  Jess meets up with Arthur, the mutant kid who saved her at the end of Cursed and she checks in on some of the other resistance fighters before deciding that she needs to go back and rescue former-Judge Fairfax.

Outside, a biker gang known as The Dukes of Meth are ambushed by some resistance fighters, including Patti Halliday who has been suffering mentally ever since running into Judge Fear previously.  However, they need information, a way to get to, El Cadaver, the leader of the local cartel.  The resistance take their bikes and one of the crew, Spike, and ride to the cartel headquarters. 

However, all subtlety goes out of the window when they arrive and Patti shoots the guard and the resistance break into the compound.  A battle ensues and ends with El Cadaver captured.  They want his plane so that they can mount a counter-attack on the Chief Judge.  When El Cadaver hears this, he wants in as revenge for when Judge Sidney De’Ath killed his brother.  He agrees to give them a plane and sends his daughter, Destyny, to fight with them.

During the battle Jess was saved when Byke, now an iron horse robot thing, intervened however Jess doesn’t trust Byke at all and refuses to communicate with them.  

Back at Sector House 13 where Psiren and the Dark Judges are operating the Tek Division, Casey (who is her protege that she has put in charge of special projects) is smoking some sort of Dead Fluid laced weed and talking about a new idea he has.  He asks Psiren if he can go to the Sisters for more resources (bodies and Dead Fluids mainly) and she slaps him.  We previously saw her warn him about staying away from the Sisters but this act turns him against Psiren.

Judge Death, still known as Chief Judge De’Ath at this point, is in his chambers with the Sisters.  They tell him that Psiren can no longer be trusted but he reacts angrily, telling them that he is tired of their machinations.  However, he has assigned an aide to her, Judge Whisper, another psychic.  It’s clear to her that Whisper is there to monitor her thoughts and actions, something that will be a problem as she has to use a lot of effort to hide what she knows from the other Psis.

Elsewhere, Casey has grafted Judge Gates’ head onto a massive, and misshapen, body and he goes directly to the Sisters of Death to request Dead Fluids and corpses.  They agree and invite him in.  Some sort of sordid interlude happens because we see them on a bed later and the Sisters reveal that De’Ath might not be the Chief Judge for much longer.  Psiren catches enough of their conversation to know that Casey is now a lost cause.

As she wonders what will happen next, Whisper confirms the question to her.  He’s psychically probing her for information but this is interrupted by a broadcast from the resistance.  A man called Boone is on the screen telling people to rise up.

Over in Megagrad, the Soviet side of the world, we see Boone with a posh looking woman.  President Nenovich enters, congratulating Boone for inciting more infighting between his people.  The woman then clubs him to death and Nenovich gives the order to start attacking, knowing that the chaos happening under Judge Death’s rule is something he can exploit.

Psiren detects this but also can feel Agatha Proudwater approaching in the plane.  She gives the command to destroy it and then leaves.  She needs allies now that she’s lost Casey to the Sisters.  She considers Fairfax but he’s locked away.  She acquires a flamethrower from a guard.  Elsewhere, we see that Casey has created an army of Deadheads, who all answer to him.

On the flight in Byke confronts Jess, asking her why she’s been ignoring her.  Jess tells Byke that something has changed in Byke’s personality, that Jess doesn’t trust her anymore.  Byke tells her that it was a mistake coming here, that Jess isn’t ready yet.  However, the conversation is interrupted when they notice that much of the city is on fire.

On the other side of the capital, two Judges are running away from other Judges who have Deadheads with them.  Just as they are about to be caught, a Judge arrives on their Lawmaster bike and tells them to get down before blasting their attackers.  She asks for a sit-rep and one of them recognises her as Judge Ava Eastwood (who we saw in the previous story, Eva, where she decided that enough was enough and that she had to put on her uniform and get back out there before all is lost).  The Judge, Irwin Biggs, talks to her.  Eastwood is all business though and takes charge of Biggs, and the other Judge, Tanya.  

Biggs suggests leaving the city but Eastwood tells him that the suburbs are just as bad.  She explains how this is all being caused by the Dead Fluids.  But then she sees the explosion in the sky as Jess and the others are shot down.

Back at Sector House 13, Psiren seens out a psychic storm, disabling the Sisters.  She enters their room and burns them to death with her flamethrower.  However, this is all an illusion by the Sisters and they use it to reveal Psiren’s treachery and capture her.  Meanwhile, Whisper and another Psi are watching Jess and the others crash.

They land in the midst of the local fire department, however under the effects of the Dead Fluids, these guys are the ones starting the fires.  Byke begins the counter-attack but Destyny shows that she’s very adept at fighting and kills most of them. 

Elsewhere, a few things are going on.  The Sisters have detected the arrival of ‘the third Sister’ while Casey begins his part in the plot to overthrow Chief Judge De’Ath, who is watching on video as Mortis prepared their own plane, Justice One, to launch against the Sov attack.   Mortis notes that Judge Fire is too emotional to be trusted and that Judge Fear is too much of an unknown quantity.  I love this stuff, because it shows the strange divisions that exist in the Dark Judges, no matter how much they are united by a common cause.

Byke has her final confrontation with Jess and leaves, believing that Jess still isn’t ready to take on the forces of Sidney De’Ath.  However, the rest of the group, Jess included, begin their mission to rescue Fairfax and kill De’Ath.  But it isn’t long before Judge Fear’s influence is felt and they begin doubting themselves and turning on each other.  Patti Halliday finds Judge Fear.  Jess and Agatha Proudwater find Fairfax, who is about to be injected with Dead Fluids by his ex-partner, Collins.

Meanwhile, Judge Death (who is fully transformed at this point, so we probably don’t need to call him De’Ath anymore) is talking to someone and playing chess.  He explains that while they are being attacked on all fronts, this is all part of his masterplan.  He’s been playing the long game.  We then see that the person in the room is his father’s corpse.  Bravo, Kek-W, you beautifully twisted genius.

Destyny bursts in.  She attacks Death, knocking him to the floor before mounting him for the final killer blow.  Unfortunately for her, Death finds out that he has a new power and he reaches into her chest and squeezes the life out of her.  His victory is short-lived though as Casey bursts in with the new Judge Gates hybrid monstrosity.  Gates crushes Death into the ground and Casey proclaims himself to be in charge.

At this point, Kek-W is throwing massive moments at us and when Byke finds the Sisters, they greet her as the ‘Third Sister’ and begin discussing how she shouldn’t be there.  How they are not meant to take direct action and should only subtly push others to do their bidding, which is to destroy the world.  However, Byke, who appears to know she is their sister, tells them they are mistaken and that she’s there to rescue Psiren.  Byke blasts the Sisters with her guns and tells Psiren to leave.

Back in Fairfax’s cell, Collins is putting up a fight against Jess but Arthur, the mutant kid, blasts Collins with a shotgun.  They begin untying Fairfax but he tells them he can’t be saved and that they’ve been micro-dosing him with Dead Fluids for a while now.  They are interrupted by Agatha who tells them trouble is coming, in the shape of Casey’s new army of Deadheads.

In the final page, we see the Sovs readying for their attack with Colonel Mira Ruin giving the order to “bring down the apocalypse on them.”

The current location of Judges Eastwood, Biggs and Tanya is unknown at the end of Damned.  Also, the outcome of Patti Halliday and Spike seeing Judge Fear also isn’t explored here.

 

Death Status

Loose in the colony of Dominion with Mortis and Fire.  Judge Fear trapped by Dredd and Anderson (in main timeline).

Buy it now

Thankfully, this story and the rest of Kek-W’s Fall of Deadworld series was re-printed as two hardcover collections.  You’ll need the second one, Fall of Deadworld: Book Two to read this story.

The Fall of Deadworld: Book Two

 

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