As a young boy, Mean was black sheep of the Angel family. In stark contrast to his disruptive, violent, and unruly siblings, he was a quiet, gentle, peaceful, and nonviolent child. Unfortunately for Mean, Pa Angel took great pride in his childrens' vicious tendancies and actively encouraged their cantankerous and aggressive behavior whenever possible, because of this, Pa considered Mean's placid personality a disappointment and disgrace to the family name.
Seeking to "fix" his son, Pa kidnapped a cybernetics surgeon from nearby Texas city and had him brought back to the family homestead: where he forced him to operate on his son, transforming him from a calm, good natured child into a violent and sociopathic cyborg.
As a result of his surgical modification, Mean's aggression levels are controlled by a dial installed into his forehead, which is connected directly to his brain. The dial itself has four settings:
- This is the default setting, at number one he is surly and disagreeable.
- At this level he gets "mean" in his own words.
- At three he becomes highly vicious.
- This his max setting which causes him to go into a rage filled frenzy.
On rare occasions, an extremely hard headbutt causes Mean Machine's dial to get stuck on 4½, which causes him to go totally berserk, unable to stop headbutting anything he comes across.
Although Mean possesses a highly dangerous mechanical arm, capable of crushing/disemboweling a man, his preferred way of harming people is to charge at them and headbutt them, which because of his reinforced skeleton and chrome-domed head was usually lethal. Given Mean's newly programmed anti-social personality, he would do this on a regualar basis to anyone who irritated him (which was almost anyone he came across).
Comic Book Appearances
When he was young, he was gentle, nice and utterly unlike his viciously criminal family. Pa Angel was not pleased by this, beating him "for your own good" when he found Mean cuddling a kitten. Eventually, he kidnapped a surgeon from nearby Texas City to operate on him, making him the crazed cyborg he is now.
His childhood was spent being viciously abused so that he and his brothers would become mean. Pa would beat them, set dogs on them, and shoot at them as "combat training" - and years later, Mean would fondly remember this as "the happiest days o' my life".
He married Sarah "Seven-Pound" Sadie Suggs, a competing Cursed Earth criminal named after the 7lb hammer she used when committing her crimes. This was part of a trick: she conned 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 then absconding with the loot they'd had extorted from neighboring people as "wedding gifts". Unknown to Mean, she had a son: Mean Junior.
In 2102, the Angel Gang were attempting to flee Lone Star Justice and, in the process, kidnapped the "Judge Child" Owen Krysler as a hostage. Judge Dredd pursued the gang across space for Krysler and in the process, Mean was killed.
The psychotic Krysler later brought Mean back from the dead with advanced chemicals, so he and his brother Fink Angel could kill Dredd for him. Mean went to Mega-City One by hijacking a shuttle, teamed up with Fink, and butted Walter the Wobot so hard that he was considered a write-off. In the end, Dredd arrested him after getting him to fight with Fink
In Mega-City One's custody (usually in the notorious Iso-Block 666), he has spent many years being 'cured' only to relapse, escaping for brief periods, or even being used by Justice Department. Mean was first 'employed' when he was brainwashed to think Dredd was Pa Angel so he'd lead him across the Radlands to a lost ship. The most unusual mission he was in was in the summer of 2117, when he was used with Judge Death to convince warlord Clinton Box that Dredd had gone rogue. Mean worked loyally for Dredd in this "Three Amigos" gang for the promise of being released, never to be arrested again if he stayed out of Mega-City One - he was then released on the Black Atlantic side of the wall, forcing him to 'attempt entry'. His fame meant the Mega-City One Cyborg Club made him their honourary chairman.
One time, Mean teamed up with the dimension-crossing mercenary Lobo.
During his breakouts, he discovered his son Junior who had grown up to be just as kind and gentle as the young Mean was.
In 2126, Mean fell in love with a visiting do-gooder called Porsha Wuss (who had a history of getting attached to prisoners she worked with). In order to be with her, he agreed to have an experimental brain implant called the Warden Device that would deliver extreme pain when he got angry. This actually worked and their wedding went ahead, with Mean Junior as his best man and the Cyborg Club arriving uninvited. Unfortunately, Cyberfreak, wanting to show he was tougher than Mean after he'd been banned from the club, attacked the wedding. Mean refused to resort to violence until Cyberfreak hurt Porsha: enraged, Mean shorted out the device and butted his head clean off and almost killed Porsha before he could calm down. Distraught, he voluntarily went back to the cubes and turned down another Warden as he could not be sure he would ever be safe.
Finally in 2129, the Judges succeeded in removing both his dial and claw for good, 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.
Mean got a job in a breaker's yard with a new arm and slowly built up a life, being known for his good nature and helping old ladies - though he was frequently attacked by the relatives of his victims and the occasional Judge who had lost a partner to him. He managed to be happy and content until Chaos Day. The Chaos Bug turned Mean psychotic again and while, unlike every other victim, it somehow wore off, it was only by luck that his son had been out. Mean went into the Cursed Earth to be away from people.
He died in the Cursed Earth but exactly how is known only in stories. According to one, recounted by Henry Dubble of the Black Museum, Mean was enslaved by a criminal gang and told to take them to Pa Angel's treasure stashes - otherwise the other slaves would be killed. Mean was now old, his brain damaged by the Bug, and started to hallucinate his own younger self encouraging him to use violence for good before he died. He made sure to find one of Pa's weapon stashes so that the slaves could overthrow their masters.
Mean died after this and the surviving slaves spread his story. Dubble implies, even as he admits he likely made it up, that Mean may have risen from the dead yet again...
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.
Mean is a large muscular man with heavy cyborg implements: a small dial on his forehead with four settings, a large optic, and a giant metal claw for a left arm. His right arm has been cut off for years and remained a stump.
Mean started out as a happy, docile and friendly little child, but Pa Angel made sure to turn him into a dim-witted, easily angered psychopath. Mean was constantly rowdy and breaking the law but, unlike most of his family, was capable of not being violent: he fell in love with Porsha Wuss and agreed to be conditioned to be a pacifist again, and willingly went to jail when this didn't work.
When his dial has been removed, Mean has become docile and friendly.
Appearances Other Media
Judge Dredd movie
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-Cheif 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
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.
Mean Machine appears in the Judge Dredd/Batman crossover Judgement on Gotham (1991).
He also appears in the Judge Dredd/Lobo crossover.