Mean Machine Angel

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Mean in a maximum-security cell, illustrated by David Millgate

Mean "Mean Machine" Angel is a villain in the Judge Dredd stories of the British comic series 2000 AD. He is one of the sons of Elmer "Pa" Angel, and as such, is a member of the Angel Gang.

Fictional biography[edit]

When he was young, he was gentle, nice and utterly unlike his viciously criminal family. Pa Angel was not pleased by the boy's kind nature and kidnapped a surgeon from nearby Texas City to operate on him, making him the crazed cyborg he is now. He has a mechanical right arm and a steel dome over his skull with a dial on the front. This dial has four settings; from 1, where he is surly and disagreeable, all the way up to 4, which is when he is fully berserk. His favourite attack is a headbutt with his steel skull. He is not very bright at best and has often been outwitted.

Mean Machine's dial settings are:

  1. Surly
  2. Mean
  3. Vicious
  4. Brutal

On occasion, an extremely hard headbutt causes Mean Machine's dial to get stuck on 4½, which causes him to go berserk, unable to stop headbutting anything he comes across.

He died during the Judge Child saga, but was brought back from the grave by the Judge Child to seek revenge on Judge Dredd. Due to his organic left arm having been shot off in a fight with Judge Dredd Mean Machine was left only with the brutal mechanical claw of his right arm. At the end of his return, he was captured by the Mega-City One judges and imprisoned. While there have been escapes and attempts to cure him, they always go wrong. He is usually incarcerated in Iso-Cube 666 (which holds the most dangerous foes Dredd has gone up against and subsequently captured) in Mega-City One. He is also occasionally "loaned out" to the Judges for missions, such as when he was part of "The Three Amigos" alongside Judge Dredd and Judge Death, and when he was used to find stolen Justice Department clones in the Cursed Earth badlands. Unknown to him, he was made the honorary president of the Cyborg Club.[1]

He once married a competing Cursed Earth criminal named Seven-Pound Sadie Suggs (named after the 7 lb hammer she used when committing her crimes). This turned out to be a scam, as she easily tricked him into demonstrating his highest setting by ramming the side of the shack the Angels lived in, collapsing it on the rest of the Angels and allowing her to abscond with the loot the Angels had extorted from neighbouring people as "wedding gifts". Mean Machine later discovered that she had borne him a son, Junior, who is exactly as kind and gentle as Mean was during his childhood.

In Judge Dredd Megazine #218-20, Mean Machine received a cranial cybernetic implant called a Warden Device, which delivers extreme pain whenever he gets angry, so he could be released into society to marry Iso-cube visitor Porsha Wuss. This actually worked until Cyberfreak, wanting to show he was tougher than Mean after he'd been banned from Cyborg Club, attacked the wedding. Mean refused to resort to violence until Cyberfreak hurt Porsha: enraged, Mean shorted out the device and butted Cyberfreak's head off. He was left distraught when he realised he'd almost killed Porsha as well and he voluntarily went back to the cubes, deciding against another Warden as he could not be sure he would ever be safe.

Finally in 2129 (prog 1536), the Judges succeeded in removing both his dial and claw, reverting him to his original simple and peaceful self. Dredd was left disturbed by this anticlimactic end, coming at a time when he was feeling his age. Mean was released into the care of his son.

According to the Tales from the Black Museum story Rising Angel, a rehabilitated Mean was driven to violence again by the Chaos plague and, stricken with remorse, left the city to return to the Cursed Earth where he died freeing a group of slaves from Nevada Jack Freeman and his gang.

In a parallel universe, ruled by Judge Dread (an insane version of Judge Dredd), Mean Machine is one of Dread's lieutenants and has a fifth setting – Book a Plot in the Cemetery.

Other appearances[edit]

Judge Dredd movie[edit]

File:MeanMachine Adamson.JPG
Mean Machine in Judge Dredd portrayed by Christopher Adamson.

He was played in the 1995 movie by Christopher Adamson. When Dredd and Fergee are captured by the Angel Gang they are introduced to Mean, who Pa Angel says "We had to make some alterations when he was a child. The Cursed Earth's a tough place on young folks." Dredd manages to free himself, and knocks Mean unconscious, turning his head dial down, and quickly kills the rest of the Angel Gang. Mean recovers consciousness and kills ex-Chief Judge Fargo who had just come upon the scene. Dredd and Mean fight and Dredd manages to electrocute Mean using the power from Mean's electric arm, citing a violation of Mega City municipal code.

Chris Cunningham (under the stage name of Chris Halls) designed and built the ABC Warrior (based on Hammerstein), and the makeup and prosthetics for Mean Machine. Originally for the movie Mean's dial was going to turn by itself whenever his mood changed, however this did not make it into the final film.[2]

Video game[edit]

Mean Machine appears in the 1995 video game as a boss. He can launch missiles from his mechanical arm and can knock a player back using brute force. He must be defeated in order to complete an objective—to find the Book of Law.

Crossover comics[edit]

Mean Machine appears in the Judge Dredd/Batman crossover Judgement on Gotham (1991).

He also appears in the Judge Dredd/Lobo crossover.


As well as appearing in Judge Dredd he has had his own eponymous series:

  • Mean Machine:
    • "Travels With Muh Shrink" (by John Wagner and Richard Dolan, in 2000 AD #730–736, 1991)
    • "Son of Mean Machine" (by John Wagner and Carl Critchlow, in Judge Dredd Megazine, #2.63–2.72, 1994–1995)
    • "Visiting Time" (by John Wagner and John Hicklenton, in Judge Dredd Megazine, #2.82, 1995)
    • "Psycho Analysis" (by Gordon Rennie and Robert McCallum, in 2000AD Sci-Fi Special 1995)
    • "Mean Streets" (by Gordon Rennie and Jim Murray, in Judge Dredd Mega-Special, 1996)
    • "Close Encounters of the Mean Kind" (by Gordon Rennie and Anthony Williams, in 2000AD Sci-Fi Special 1996)
    • "Born Mean" (by Gordon Rennie and Kev Walker, in Judge Dredd Megazine #3.69, 2000)
    • "The Geek" (by Gordon Rennie, with pencils by Paul Marshall and inks by Lee Townsend, in Judge Dredd Megazine #3.74, 2000)
    • "Support Yore Local Bastich" (by Gordon Rennie and Wayne Reynolds, in Judge Dredd Megazine #3.75, 2000)
    • "The Last Vidshow" (by Gordon Rennie, with pencils by Patrick Goddard and inks by Lee Townsend, in Judge Dredd Megazine #3.78, 2000)
    • "Butt Me Deadly" (by Gordon Rennie, with pencils by Patrick Goddard and inks by Lee Townsend, in Judge Dredd Megazine #3.79, 2000)
    • "Angel Heart" (by John Wagner and David Millgate, in Judge Dredd Megazine #218–220, 2004)
  • The Angel Gang:
    • "Before They Wuz Dead" (by Simon Spurrier and Steve Roberts, in Judge Dredd Megazine #258–262, 2007)

He also appeared in an episode of Tales From the Black Museum:

  • "Rising Angel" (by Michael Carroll and Nick Percival, in Judge Dredd Megazine #358, 2015)

External links[edit]


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