|Postion||*Street Judge (Retired)|
|Affiliation||Mega City One Justice Department|
Behind the Scenes
|First Appearance||2000 AD|
|Portrayed by||Sylvester Stallone (1995 film), Karl Urban (2012 film)|
Judge Joseph Dredd is the titular character of the Judge Dredd universe. Judge Dredd is a clone of the "Father of Justice" Eustace T. Fargo , and is the most feared, respected, and widely known of all the Judges. Judge Dredd first appeared in Prog 2 of 2000 AD and is the longest running character therein, having appeared in all but a handful of Progs. Judge Dredd is a Senior Street Judge, and since 2132 a member of the Council of Five the ruling body of the Justice Department of Mega City One. In June of 1995 and September of 2012 movies based on Judge Dredd were released. On their 1987 album, American thrash band Anthrax dedicated a song to the character titled "I Am the Law".
The Early yearsEdit
Judge Dredd is the flagship title in the 2000AD anthology, first appearing in its second issue in 1977. The year is 2099 at that time, and Dredd is already a hardened street Judge of many years. Dredd faced countless strange menaces at that time, including a robot uprising. A notable early case was The Return of Rico, where Dredd's disgraced dirty Judge clone brother Rico Dredd comes back to frame him.
Then we have the first Dredd mega epic, The Cursed Earth, which ran for 25 weeks. Dredd treks across The Cursed Earth that is America, facing numerous mad foes to bring an antidote to Mega-City Two on the West Coast.
When Dredd finally returns home, tired and triumphant, he is faced with the next epic, The Day The Law Died. While he was gone, the mad Judge Cal had taken control of Mega-City One and corrupted it. Framed and disgraced, Dredd brings order back to the city through rebellion.
In Punks Rule, Dredd makes an example out of criminals by defeating many single-handedly and exiling them from the city in a dumptruck. We meet Dredd's niece Vienna, daughter of Rico, and while Dredd does mean well, he has no time for family. The long walk, a bittersweet retirement for Judges who have grown too old or otherwise unfit to continue their hard job, is shown in Judge Minty. Minty walks out of the city with his final task, to go into the Cursed Earth and bring law to the lawless.
Judge Dredd's most fearsome menace Judge Death is introduced around this time ( 2000AD #149), with the goal of wiping out all life. Dredd stops him, but with the price of imprisoning his ally Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson in a plastic stasis while Judge Death possessed her. In Judge Death Lives, The Dark Judges are introduced, further undead galactic menaces. They break Death free and kill many citizens, but in the end Dredd and Anderson are able to defeat them in their own dead dimension.
The psychics are a point which gets more focus, with a precognitive vision showing that a Judge Child will be able to save Mega-City One from an ominous fate. Dredd and Hershey travel through space to find this Judge Child, but when they do Dredd recognizes the child as pure evil, and leaves him behind, disobeying his orders.
The cold war allegory of Mega-City One's conflict with the Sov Judges reaches its breaking point in The Apocalypse War. With Chief Judge Griffin dead and drug-induced mania tearing the city apart, Dredd puts his finger on the button and launches the nukes, killing millions in Russia's East-Meg, and ending the war. Much of Mega-City One is also destroyed in the process when one of the Sov-Judges' nukes makes it past their shields. Dredd as usual decides to stay on the streets where he's needed, and declines the Chief Judge position. Young serial killer PJ Maybe is introduced, and the evil Judge Child's story culminates in City of the Damned, where Dredd loses his eyes. They're replaced with bionic ones.
The 90's: Dredd ContinuesEdit
Judge Dredd: The Megazine launches in 1990, giving Dredd a monthly place for new stories on top of his weekly 2000AD installments. The first issues of this anthology also include the acclaimed America story, where Dredd is in a grimly imposing supporting role. In 2000AD the Democracy subplot culminates with Dredd's failure, and he takes the long walk into the Cursed Earth. There he becomes the scarred Dead Man, and returns in the Necropolis epic, where Judge Death and other deadly menaces have turned Mega-City One into a nightmare. Dredd receives a rejuve treatment and his skin and tissues are fully restored. Another notable early story in The Megazine is the Mechanismo trilogy, where robot Judges are put on the streets, much to Dredd's suspicion. Judge Dredd had notable crossovers with DC and Dark Horse in the '90s, including four Batman/Judge Dredd stories, a Lobo story, and a crossover with Predator. DC published a new Judge Dredd comic reboot with its own separate continuity around this time, it was short lived. In 1995 the Judge Dredd movie starring Sylvester Stallone was released. Dredd's original creator John Wagner has always been the most notable contributor to the title, and he still continues to write Dredd to this day. There were a couple years in the '90s when he was contributing much less and taking some time off from Dredd. This is when writers such as Garth Ennis and Mark Millar took over the title, in what would be one of the least well received eras of Dredd. Grant Morrison also supplied a few longer stories, such as Inferno and Book of the Dead. Wagner wrote some notable Dredd around that time, such as the Wilderlands arc.
Throughout the mid-to-late '90s Wagner's input increased again, and in general the book took a more favored direction. The Pit being a standout long running Dredd story of that time, where Dredd runs his own sector house, with numerous subplots and a cop show procedural kind of feel. Then Dead Reckoning, a notable Judge Dredd vs Judge Death saga, The Hunting Party, and the Doomsday arc closed the decade.
In 2000 Rebellion took over, and under this new management 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine have flourished. Judge Dredd takes place in real time, currently (c.2013) in the year 2135, and Dredd has aged, currently 66 years since his birth, he's still out on the streets. The young serial killer PJ Maybe introduced in the '80s is now a grown man, and he continues his evil schemes. Dredd's niece Vienna too is an adult with her own problems. The way the city and its citizens change over the years is one of the more fascinating details of Judge Dredd. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens: Incubus is a popular crossover from the 2000s, Dredd face to face with the xenomorph menace. Total War, Mandroid, and Origins being some of the other notable recent epics. In Tour of Duty, the Mutant issue comes into play, and Dredd is once again put to the test.
And of course, Dredd is a survivor hardened by the years, still dealing with all crime at all times.
Due to his increasing age, Dredd has been undergoing regular rejuve treatments to stay active.
Weapons and EquipmentEdit
Judge Dredd has a large Lawmaster motorbike, which has powerful side-mounted cannons and a centrally-mounted laser (the 'Cyclops' laser), and has full Artificial Intelligence. It is also capable of responding to orders from the Judge, such as driving itself. It is connected to the Justice Department who can receive and transmit information from and to the bike and is equipped with a video communication system.
He also has a handgun which is named the Lawgiver. It is DNA-coded so that no one else may use the weapon - it will explode if it reads an incorrect palm-print. These are standard issue for Judges, firing six types of ammo such as Standard bullets, Rubber Ricochet, Armour Piercing, Heat-Seeking, Incendiary and Hi-Ex. It can also fire tracking bullets, stun shots, and more, although it requires loading to do so.
Other weapons he carries as standards include a Scattergun (pump-action shotgun), a "daystick" (long two-handed cudgel), and a boot knife. His uniform consists of a navy-blue bodysuit; green padded boots, knee pads, elbow pads and gloves; golden alloy shoulder pads (the right in the shape of an eagle - the symbol of the Justice Department), and a blue and red helmet which almost entirely hides his face and has protective lenses, a respirator and communicator built in.
The multidimensional rogue's gallery in Helter Skelter all hailed from worlds where Dredd was killed (except for Rico who kept him on ice to torture each year) and they were triumphant - the discovery that there was a world where Dredd won caused them to invade in a fit of hate.
In the version of 2120 where Owen Krysler took over, Dredd was killed and then resurrected as a zombie slave. This zombie was accidentally brought back in time and would eventually 'wake up' to rampage across Luna-1.
Dread Dominion depicted a timeline where Joe shot Rico dead instead of taking him alive: the trauma led to him becoming increasingly more violent and to read voraciously in the hope of replacing the 'bleeding heart' Chief Judge Goodman, who he saw as weak. He also renamed himself "Dread", wearing his brother's old badge (where the bullet went through the second "E") This resulted in him subjugating Mega-City Three in the 2080s civil war, becoming Deputy Chief Judge and conquering Mega-City Two in 2099, and then allowing Judge Cal to take over so he could 'save' the city and become Chief Judge. He would tighten his grip on "Dreadcity" with his reformed Council (the Hammerfist), create a pretext to nuke and conquer the Sov Block (sacrificing parts of the other American cities to make it convincing), and from this position of strength, conquered the world. Oz resistance was so fierce he exterminated the whole country and renamed it Woz.
By 2116, Dread was absolute dictator of seven solar systems and absolutely insane. His timeline was more technologically advanced by use of fully unleashing psi power (to the point of easily beating up Sabbat) and that technology was used to create immense, baroque devices of pure sadism. Psionic ultraterror waves kept the slave populations too afraid to resist.
John Wagner, by request from Pat Mills, came up with the concept behind Judge Dredd and Carlos Ezquerra came up with the character design. Writer Peter Harris, artist Mick (Michael) McMahon and Wagner further developed the character.
Judge Dredd as a character is straightforward, he is the law. He spends every waking moment of his life on the streets. He has no secret identity, no time off, and he's never seen without his signature helmet. After a day and night of fighting crime, Dredd returns to the Grand Hall of Justice for 10 minutes in the sleep machine. Then he's back on the job, hammering in just how relentless crime is in this dystopian future. One thing that separates Dredd from other street level crime fighters is that there is no crime he will ignore. While he deals with all the crazy menaces that threaten the city and its citizens, he is also a threat to the citizens if they commit even the most minor of crimes. The future is harsh, so is the law. Dredd does question his role in this harsh regime from time to time, be it sympathizing with mutants or citizen's cries for freedom, but he is a product of the crazy times he lives in, and his allegiance is to the law.
Dredd's face is infamously never seen, making him a faceless, austere icon of the law. John Wagner stated in 1995: "It sums up the facelessness of justice − justice has no soul. So it isn't necessary for readers to see Dredd's face, and I don't want you to". Stallone taking the helmet off for the 1995 film has long been held against it - ironically Ezquerra once said "Stallone's Rocky Balboa was a good contemporary model" - and it was a requirement for the helmet to remain on in both the planned 2000s Dredd films and the the 2012 Dredd.
The trend of never showing his face started when Dredd was meant to be 'demasked' in prog 8, with Dredd so impressive that it scares the perps, but Massimo Belardinelli's art hadn't quite pulled it off . As a quick fix, the strip went out with a 'CENSORED' bar and changed the dialogue to imply something bad had happened to his face. After this, it became a trope. Simon Bisley drew Dredd's face in Judgement on Gotham but this was removed from the early pencils.
Accidentally, Dredd's face was revealed during Dredd Angel when Ron Smith drew Eustace Fargo, founder of Justice Department. In the later A Question of Judgement three-parter, it was established that Dredd and Rico were clones of Fargo - and since then, Fargo's head above the chin has always been obscured!
The comic book adaptation of the Stallone film was drawn by Ezquerra, whose take on Stallone still has a craggy, 2000AD style chin.
- In Carlos Ezquerra's original design, he "decided to give him some large lips - to put a mystery as to his racial background". He departed after one story, annoyed that his strip wouldn't be the debut, and didn't tell anyone about his choice - and the comic was black-and-white, so it wasn't immediately obvious. Mike McMahon initially drew Dredd as a black man, while Brian Bolland and Ron Smith drew him as white  and the coloured pages established him as caucasian.
- Dredd's backstory of being 'born' five years old was made up to cover up a plothole: readers had spotted that if Dredd graduated in the Class of '79, he'd have been thirteen.
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