Hadn't Wagner & Grant attended a Robert McKee seminar on storytelling by the time of the Pit?
Oh, you've got to be kidding; what did those two need to be told about how to tell a story? I suppose that would explain the whizz-bang ending to one of the most sophisticated and understated stories in the canon. I don't mind the ending, except that it seems like the kind of ejaculatory satisfaction big finish- where everything blows up and the bad guy gets it good- that Wagner's stories had always avoided. Chopper doesn't win in Oz, Dredd doesn't shoot Chopper, Dredd doesn't bring home the Judge Child, Death escapes capture ...
The Pit is so very wonderful for all the reasons stated in Wolk
's post, but most importantly for its role as the precursor of the beautifully unfolding 52 Weeks of Wagner
mega-epics we currently enjoy. After Judgement Day
took the escalating levels of destruction in the traditional epic to their (il)logical conclusion, and Wilderlands
mostly failed in Wagner's stated objective of refocusing the strip on Dredd as a more straightforwardly heroic figure, The Pit
was like a breath of fresh air.
Taking The Graveyard Shift
's diffused approach to narrative and marrying it to America
's depth of characterisation, The Pit
seemed to show the way forward for the Dredd strip and Wagner's writing- yet he followed it up with Doomsday
's frustrating recapitulation of every epic trope that The Pit
had just revealed as silly and unnecessary. The Pit
does represent a turning point in the development of the strip, but it took almost a decade to learn the lessons that story provided.
I imagine the comic's falling circulation and the attendant pressure for BIG storylines to try and arrest this decline were responsible for the return to epic aspirations, and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the comic as the reason for the largely directionless period of conceptual drift that followed Sin City
; but it's a mystery why it wasn't until the partial reboot of Origins
and subsequent epics- that let the development of Dredd's supporting cast lead their largely unresolved stories- before anyone seemed to build on the obvious quality and success of the first true epic of Wagner's mature work.