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Judge Dredd

Judge Joseph "Joe" Dredd is the main character of the longest running strip in the British comic 2000 A.D., having been featured there since its second issue in 1977. Judge Dredd was created by writer John Wagner[?] and artist Carlos Ezquerra[?], although the name was thought up by Pat Mills who was originally going to use it for a different character. In the first published story Dredd was drawn by Mike McMahon rather than Ezquerra, and Ezquerra was reputedly so upset that he didn't draw Dredd until five years later. His appearance was inspired by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry[?], and the film poster for Death Race 2000[?].

The strip is set about 120 years into the future in Mega-City One[?], a gigantic conurbation occupying the east coast of the United States; Dredd, actually a clone of Chief Judge Fargo[?], is the most famous of the elite corps of judges who run the city with the power not only to enforce the law, but also to instantly pass judgements on criminals and execute them. All traditional governments had collapsed after a small nuclear war had rendered the American midwest into a wasteland (The 'Cursed Earth'), and they had been unable to maintain order and essential services in cities filled with refugees. Dredd has a large, computer-driven "Lawmaster" motorbike, a gun (called a 'Lawgiver') with a wide range of specialist bullets which can only be used by its owner, a daystick, bootknife, and a uniform with a helmet that obscures all of his face except his mouth and jaw. His entire face is never shown in the strip (however, see The Dead Man below).

The Judges are police, judge (and executioner if necessary), and their word is absolute. The only thing preventing them from being a totally oppressive police state is the psychological conditioning they receive - this has been subverted on several occasions, including by the insane Judge Cal who, once he had absolute power, then proceeded to behave much like his namesake Caligula, even appointing his pet goldfish as his Deputy Chief Judge. Dredd, having missed the conditioning due to being out of Mega City One at the time, was the leader of the rebel Judges who overthrew Cal; after Cal's death at the hands of Fergee[?], a dweller of the Mega City's undercity, he was offered the job of Chief Judge but refused it, as he believed he was needed far more out on the streets. On another occasion, the Judges were again subverted from their role of protectors of the citizens of Mega City One by the Sisters of Death[?], who, through the body of psi judge[?] Kit Agee[?], used supernatural powers to create the Dark Judges[?] dystopian state of Necropolis[?]. Once more, Dredd, who had again avoided mental conditioning by being away from the city (this time due to having resigned from the Judges and taken The Long Walk[?] (see Tale Of the Dead Man[?]), and a small force of rebel Cadet Judges as well as Judge Anderson, were able to win the day.

Megacity One's population lives in gigantic tower blocks, each holding some fifty thousand or so people, and each named after some historical person. (There is usually some ironic joke in the name of the the block in which a particular story takes place.) A number of stories feature rivalries between different blocks, on one occasion (recounted in the story Block Mania[?]) breaking into shooting wars between them; the Judges' arbitrary and total powers reflect the difficulty of maintaining any order at all in the Megacity environment.

The strip was filmed starring Sylvester Stallone as Dredd, though this is widely regarded as a failure. In deference to the expensive star, Dredd's face was shown; and in spite of the large budget and accurate recreation of the sets and characters appearances, the scriptwriters largely omitted the ironic humour of the original strip.

Other illustrators of the strip have included Brian Bolland[?], Ron Smith[?], Steve Dillon[?] and Cam Kennedy[?].

Major Judge Dredd storylines

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

There have been a number of Judge Dredd storylines that have either significantly developed the "Dredd mythos" or have been "epic" in scale (ie, been multi-part stories). Some of these include;

  • The Robot Wars[?] (the Mega City judges face an uprising by the cities robot servant workforce led by carpenter-droid Call-Me-Kenneth[?])
  • The Return of Rico[?] (prog 30) (Joe Dredd's clone brother Rico Dredd[?] returns from Titan (a penal colony for Judges who themselves have broken the law) seeking revenge)
  • The Cursed Earth[?] (progs 61-85) was the writers' take on the basic plot of Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley: Dredd, accompanied by punk biker Spikes Harvey Rotten[?] undertakes an epic journey across the deserts of the Cursed Earth in order to bring the vaccine for the deadly 2T(Fru)T virus that is devastating the population of Mega City Two[?])
  • The Day the Law Died[?] (progs 89-108) (the tyranical and insane Chief Judge Cal[?] takes control of Mega-City One with disastrous consequences for the population. This story introduced the Kleggs[?], a crocodile-like race of interplantary mercenaries)
  • Judge Death[?] (progs 149-151) (the first appearance of both Judge Death, perhaps the Mega Cities darkest foe, and Judge Anderson)
  • The Judge Child Quest[?] (progs 156-181) (The space opera style search for the mutant child Owen Chrysler[?], who Mega City 'pre-cog' Psi-Judge Feyy[?] has predicted will have the power to save the city from an unspecified future disaster. This story introduced several characters into the Dredd mythos such as Judge Hershey[?], The Angel Gang[?] (including the ever popular villain Mean Machine Angel[?]), Murd the Oppressor[?] and the bizarre Jigsaw Disease[?], whose victims literally disapeared piece by piece)
  • Block Mania (progs 236-244) (contamination of water supplies by Sov Judge Orlock[?] leads to all out war between Mega-City One's many city blocks. This story is a prologue to Apocalypse War)
  • Apocalypse War[?] (progs 245-270) (weakened by the effects of Block Mania, Mega-City One is attacked and invaded by the forces of East Meg One[?]. Dredd leads the resistance)
  • City of the Dead[?] (progs 393-406) (the Judges develop time travel technology. Dredd and Anderson travel into the future to discover more about the disaster predicted by Psi-Judge Feyy. However they learn that the Judge Child Owen Chysler has in fact caused the events rather than preventing them from happening)
  • Oz[?] (progs 545-570) (Dredd visits the Australian Mega City of Oz on the trail of renegade sky-surfer[?] Chopper[?]. At the same time the Mega City One Judges are attacked by the Judda[?], a 'lost tribe' of clones of Chief Judge Fargo[?] who share Judge Dredd's bloodline)
  • The Dead Man[?] (a mysterious disfigured stranger with no memory wanders the deserts of the Cursed Earth. In the final episode of the story this turns out to be Dredd, who has encountered the Sisters of Death. In this story Dredd is shown throughout without his famous feature-covering helmet, although his face has been badly burned and scarred.)
  • The Tale of the Dead Man (progs 662-668) (Dredd resigns and takes the Long Walk following his assessment of ex-Judda Cadet Judge Kraken[?], and his crisis of faith in the Law that he had always sworn to uphold. This story acts as a prologue to Necropolis)
  • Necropolis (progs 669-673 (Countdown to Necropolis) and 674-699)(manipulating the confused mind of Judge Kraken, the Sisters of Death are able to use the body of Psi-Judge Agee in order to take control of Mega-City One and create a trans-dimensional bridge enabling The Dark Judges to once again manifest themselves)
  • Democracy[?] (the long running tensions between the totalitarian Judge system and the movement for the restoration of democracy in the Mega-City at last come to a head...)
  • Judgement Day[?] (progs 786-799)(Sabbat the Necromagus[?] reanimates the corpses of the dead and uses them to attack the Mega-Cities of the world, leading to the deaths of billions. This story includes the teaming up of Dredd with Johnny Alpha[?], a character from another long running 2000AD comic strip, Strontium Dog[?](Dredd and Alpha had however previously crossed paths in an earlier story)
  • Mechanismo[?]
  • Wilderlands[?]

External links:

Bibliography:

  • The A-Z of Judge Dredd: The Complete Encyclopedia from Aaron Aardvark to Zachary Zziiz, by Mike Butcher, St. Martin's Press; ISBN 0312137338 (trade paperback, March 1999)

Judge Dread[?] was a reggae/ska performer known for the somewhat 'risque' sexual content of his songs.



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