Behind the Scenes
Hailing from a dark dimension called Deadworld, the Dark Judges are a dark and twisted parody of the Judges as we know them. To them, all crime is committed by the living and therefore life itself is a crime. They originated as a cabal of human Judges based around the sociopathic Judge Sidney De'ath and used their position to murder thousands 'legally' before gaining supernatural power.
After many years of genocide, they finally wiped out every living being in their homeworld and turned their attention to Mega-City One.
There are four active Dark Judges, though they have been joined by other related entities over the years.
Having four is a nod to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The Dark Judges are undead, and as such, cannot be conventionally killed. Their true forms are incorporeal spirits that must inhabit corpses in order to cause physical harm. This involves obtaining recently deceased cadavers, which are subsequently processed by machinery that produces "dead fluids." These fluids bring the corpses to "full ripeness," prefatory for the spirits to inhabit and animate.
The incarnate Dark Judges are emaciated, zombie-like humanoids with specialised powers. All four speak with a hiss.
The Gang of FourEdit
- Judge Death - The first and their leader. Wears a helmet similar to that of a traditional Judge, with a modified visor resembling a portcullis. His mouth is pulled into a permanent rictus. In place of the Judges' eagle-shaped shoulder pauldrons, Death sports a pterodactyl on his right shoulder; his left shoulder and elbow pads are festooned with bones. His jacket is fastened with crude stitches rather than a zipper, and his badge and belt buckle are each shaped like a human skull with extended fangs, the latter is also adorned with bat wings. Death most often kills his victims by reaching directly into their chests (in an intangible state) and squeezing their hearts until they burst, without ever breaking the skin. Among the Dark Judges, Death and Fear wear a helmet of any kind.
- Judge Fear - An imposing figure who wears a black great helm accented with large, bat-like wings. When passing judgement, he opens his helmet's faceplate and frightens the accused to death with whatever lies within, whilst reciting his catch phrase, "Gaze into the face of Fear!" The actual face under the helmet has only been revealed twice: once as a mass of eyeballs, and on another occasion as several grotesque mandibles.No explanation has been given as to whether these monstrosities are indicative of Fear's physical face, or if they are simply manifestations of his victims' fears. Fear sports an assortment of tools on his belt, notably miniature bear traps, which he is known to throw at his enemies in order to immobilize them; and an enormous padlock which he uses to secure his victims' potential exit routes. His belt buckle is a shrunken head.(On at least one occasion this was used as a type of explosive hand grenade, when he threw it at Batman who was allied with Judge Dredd against the dark Judges in the comic "Die Laughing". He wears a heavy black cape with large, bear trap shoulder pauldrons. In Progs. 421 and 423, Judge Fear is seen to exhibit powers similar to Judge Death's "phasing" ability, thrusting his hands through victims' bodies.
- Judge Fire - Immersed head-to-toe in ethereal flame. He wears no helmet, and instead has a human skull for a head. He wields a flame-spewing trident. As a human, Fire was an undercover Judge named Fuego who had infiltrated a resistance group, which he eventually led to sacrifice at the hands of the newly-created Judge Death. He earned the name "Judge Fire" when he was still alive, after he burned down a school for violating noise regulations.
- Judge Mortis - In a perpetual state of disintegration, and his touch causes his victims to spontaneously decay at a rapid rate. His head is a sheep skull and he has a bony tail. His uniform's right shoulder pauldron is a bird skeleton, and his left shoulder is protected by a perforated mantle. His badge is a stylized sheep skull with his name emblazoned in wood. Like Fire and Fear, Mortis spent his early years as a rookie Judge at Law School, Deadworld's equivalent to Mega-City One's Academy of Law, and graduated after Death. He developed an admiration for Sidney's methods and beliefs, and shares his comrades' zeal for passing arbitrary death sentences. He is sometimes employed by Judge Death to prepare the Dark Judges' host bodies.
The Sisters of DeathEdit
- Nausea is a haglike, decayed humanoid with an assortment of gory tentacles, claws and eyeballs on her right shoulder and elbows. Her left shoulder has two apparently live human heads on it. Her badge is a human skull, much like Death's. Both she and Phobia have supernatural and psychic powers, including the power to increase decay and darken the sun in areas. As spectral beings, they cannot be physically damaged and need only a psychic anchor in Mega-City One to attack.
- Phobia looks much like her sister, but has an extended proboscis and live heads as earrings. Her right shoulder is covered by a large scorpion, and her elbows and knees by spiders. Snakes wrap around her arms. Her left shoulder is a mass of worms, and her badge is a spider.
- Judge Kraken while a Dark Judge, was appropriately decayed. He suffered the loss of his right hand by inadvertently trying to use another judge's Lawgiver, thereby setting off its self-destruct mechanism. He wore the usual Judge's uniform, though it was cracked and deformed. Unlike the others, he was forcibly turned into a Dark Judge by Death and made to kill people against his will, while being allowed his normal feeling and remorse as "a final twist of the knife".
- Pustula, Ephemera and Dementia are three "cousins" of the Sisters. Pustula is an obese, boil and pus-ridden monster who spreads the "blisteria-101" virus, which turns its victims, including robots, into a mass of boils. Ephemera is a naked ghostly figure with a mane of hair, who creates heavy poltergeist activity. Dementia resembles a normal human, naked, and surrounded by bats - covering her breasts and genitalia - and toxic mud on her hands, who inspires waves of suicidal dementia. Where they came from is unknown.
- Judge Reaper and Sister Despair were two later Dark Judges, with Reaper infatuated with Despair. Judge Fire petitioned Despair to join their ranks. After the great omnicide, the two hid the last survivors of Deadworld under the sea to experiment on and Judge Fire came after them for this heresy. Despair killed herself rather than "submit" to him.
- Judge Joker. For a very brief time, DC comic's "The Joker" character was a Dark Judge, in the original graphic novel Die Laughing (1998). The Joker helped free the original Dark Judges in exchange for immortality. He received his payment by having his spirit merged into a corpse (which was not quite the "immortality" he'd sought), creating "Judge Joker". As a Dark Judge, the Joker could kill masses of people with his laugh, which caused human heads to explode. His tenure was a brief one, as he quickly became bored with slaughter simply for its own sake and did not share the original Dark Judge's fanatical zeal for their "sacred mission" of purging all life. The Joker was restored to his normal, mortal form upon returning to Gotham City via a defective dimensional jump device.
- Half Life was a formerly human victim of the Sisters, before being turned into an insect-headed, poison-spreading monster. His toxic, disease-ridden spirit was turned into a psychic virus, one that Judge Death infected Anderson's mind with when he defeated her in 2124. When modified by the insane Judge Fauster of Psi Division's Department of Magic, it became a psychic infection, inspiring a wave of mass murder across Mega-City One.
- Mordechai, while not said to be a Dark Judge, was another one of Death's creations and possessed similar powers and motive. A walking corpse, he possessed telekinesis and plants rotted as his passing. He considered himself working for the Cursed Earth itself, keeping it free of life.
They started as Judges on their homeworld, who became acolytes of Judge Death - who had determined that as all crime was committed by the living, all crime could be stopped by killing the 'guilty'. When Sidney was a Judge-tutor in Law School, he took an interest in Judge Fairfax by having the other three future Dark Judges beat him to a pulp, before later mutilating them to prove a point that wanton violence only has true meaning when it serves the higher purpose of law. Judge Fairfax broke with Sidney at some point, but the other three became slavishly devoted to him and his philosophy, and the four went around killing people on whatever justification they could find (Judge Fuego was named Fire after he sentenced a whole school to death for noise pollution). The society of the parallel universe they inhabited placed very little value on human life and many inhabitants were sadistic and violent, but even by the standards of their people the Dark Judges were vicious.
Things changed when Death encountered Phobia and Nausea in a cave. The Sisters were death cultists and mass murderers with supernatural powers, and Death fell in love; the three of them committed acts on victims that he admitted sickened even him. With their help, he and his acolytes were able to become undead beings, thus being 'pure' to judge without hypocrisy. The Sisters would themselves become ethereal beings with hideous magical powers.
Already, the Judges were out of control and killing on the slightest whim. The Dark Judges took control and began murdering everyone on their world. 
After they'd won, the group dispersed and were slowly consumed by the boredom of eternity and their own insecurities. Luckily for them, in the early 22nd century dimension-travelling visitors chanced upon the now 'Deadworld' and found the Dark Judges. After 'judging' them and taking their dimension jumping warp devices, Judge Death travelled to Mega-City One, against the opinions of his colleagues, in order to 'dispense justice' on this new world.
Death was eventually defeated by the combined efforts of Judges Dredd and Cassandra Anderson, his body having been destroyed, and his spirit form held inside Judge Anderson, herself encased in the miracle plastic Boing on display in the Justice Department's Hall of Heroes.
Having sensed Death's peril, his comrades Fear, Fire and Mortis crossed the dimension warp to rescue him. Released from imprisonment and with a new body created, the four Dark Judges continued their 'judgement' upon Mega-City One claiming thousands of victims. Dredd and Anderson intervened, and pursued the Dark Judges back to Deadworld using a Dimension Jump Globe liberated from the Dark Judges. There, the spirits of the Dark Judges' millions of victims flowed through Anderson and seemingly extinguished their spirits forever.
However, the Dark Judges were not destroyed but merely weakened, and four years later, Judge Anderson was duped into returning to Deadworld, where she was forced to resurrect them. Armed with teleporter technologies, the four returned to Mega-City One, leaving Anderson for dead. Anderson survived, however, and used the dimension warp technology against the Dark Judges, consigning them to limbo, the void between dimensions. This is where they were to remain for the next few years.
Following Judge Dredd's resignation and his replacement by the ex-Judge Kraken, the Sisters of Death used their powers to influence Kraken and rescue the Dark Judges from Limbo. With the Mega-City One judge force under their control, the Dark Judges created Necropolis - the city of the dead, killing 60 million citizens. Judges Dredd, Anderson and Chief Judge McGruder, together with a handful of Cadet Judges, returned via the Undercity to defeat them - returning the Sisters of Death to Deadworld, imprisoning Fear, Fire and Mortis within a secure containment facility dubbed the Tomb, and executing Kraken, who had become a fifth Dark Judge.
Judge Death eluded capture by hiding in the burial pits of the Cursed Earth and departed for another dimension, but was eventually captured by Dredd with the aid of Batman. Judge Death would escape several other times, with the most significant being when the Joker dimension-jumped to Mega-City One and freed the four prisoners when they were being transferred to a more secure prison. They entered a sealed hedonist community and slaughtered their way through it before Dredd, Anderson, and Batman could stop them again.
In 2124, Death was released again - after a series of child murders to bring out Anderson, he beat her into a coma so she couldn't track him, infected her with the supernatural Half-Life virus, and escaped into the Cursed Earth. He then went on a killing spree and searched for weapons of mass destruction, finally taking out Las Vegas before seemingly being destroyed by the angry ghosts of his victims. However, the Sisters of Death - now with three extra members - attacked again in 2127, striking blocks with poltergeist activity and plagues before Psi-Division drove them back; and during Death's time in the Cursed Earth, he created another undead killer named Mordechai to carry on after him.
In 2134, during a major Soviet-backed attack on Mega-City One, Soviet sleeper agent Judge Haldane used a forged warrant to enter the Dark Judge containment vault and open the containment vessels. He stole the imprisoned Fear, Fire, and Mortis, and with another sleeper agent he gave the Dark Judges physical form again. (They promptly killed the agents, to Haldane's horror.) They were later captured by genius serial killer PJ Maybe.
Later Death was freed from Hell by the Sisters of Death. He later entered the home of PJ Maybe intent on freeing his brothers. He secreted them on a spaceship, Mayflower, and left a trail for Dredd and Anderson to follow: their great enemies thus willingly took themselves into a trap, with no way out or reinforcements, and too late to save most of the 4000 people onboard. After trapping Judge Fear, Dredd and Anderson barely escaped with the survivors, leaving the other three Dark Judges floating in space.
Two years later, Judge Death, Fire, and Mortis are discovered by a cargo ship bound for the Mega City One colony on Dominion. After possessing the crew and docking at the spaceport, the Dark Judges possess the governor and chief of police before going on a massive killing spree, turning many of the colonists into half-dead zombies to assist in their purge. Eventually, after wiping out all the settlements but losing the ship they arrived in due to sabotage, the Dark Judges terraform Dominion City into a fortress more to their liking. The remaining survivors are killed off gradually by the trio in order to "ration" their kills until Mega City One will inevitably send reinforcements, and with them, a means to escape the planet. Meanwhile, Judge Fear has been returned to his containment in the Tomb, where he contents himself by tormenting vulnerable Psi-Judges with horrific visions. Eventually, he manages to escape with the help of a willing psi-Judge and rejoin his "brothers" on Dominion, then transforms the man into another Dark Judge. The response team which had been sent to rescue the survivors suffers heavy casualties, but manages to avoid the five Dark Judges long enough to evacuate most of the survivors. The woman who kept herself alive by reading Judge Death literature about human death and misery lures him back to the colony library, then sacrifices herself by detonating a planet-destroying bomb and encasing Judge Death in Boing, again marooned in deep space while forced to stare at a poem about the beauty of life.