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Rico Dredd (2066–2099) was the "clone brother" of Joseph Dredd, which is to say that they were both cloned from the same genetic source, in their case Chief Judge Fargo.


Rico was near identical to Dredd and his "father" Fargo, with dark hair and chisled looks, however after his incarceration on Titan, Rico's skin and hair became bleached and disfigured, and had cybernetic air-filter units implanted to keep him alive. 


Rico did originally have a keen sense of justice and had a very good relationship with his brother, but his morals seemed to have a defect as he slowly got older. His judgements began to deteriorate and he began to take bribes, protection money and even killed a citizen, having given up on the entire idea of the Judge system and viewing it as hypocritical: he was justified in being a corrupt thug because that's what a Judge really was. While he refused to kill Joe when busted, when incarcerated he mentions how the only thing to keep him going was the thought of killing his brother.


Their growth in the cloning tanks was artificially accelerated, so that within 16 months they emerged with the physical development of children aged five years. They also had their brains electronically induced with knowledge and training which greatly surpassed their apparent physical age, so that they could immediately begin training in law enforcement. Rico was removed from the cloning tanks twelve minutes before Joe, and so he habitually referred to Joe as his little brother (or "Little Joe").


Like clones

The Dredd brothers

Rico was one of the first Judge clones, spawned from Fargo himself.[1] At the Academy of Law Rico consistently demonstrated higher levels of skill than Joe, and he graduated at the top of their class in 2079, with Joe coming second. Rico helped "Little Joe" through classes. As clones, they were extremely close (and had to fight off other cadets who tried to bully them for 'thinking they were special).[2]

During his time as a cadet, he requested to join the older cadets in restoring order to the streets of Mega-City One in the immediate aftermath of the Atomic Wars of 2070. Rico and Joe served with distinction, and were personally chosen to take part in the raid on the White House to depose President Booth (who had usurped his office and had started the War).[3]

Rico's accident

Rico's accident

However, following an injury during a training mission in the Cursed Earth, Rico began to become more aggressive, underhanded, and determined to prove himself better than Joe. After graduation, Rico began engaging in criminal activities, including extortion, assault and racketeering. Joe suspected that this was the result of exposure to radiation when Rico was injured on a training mission in the Cursed Earth.[4] Rico himself had considered this in his early years but discounted it. In his opinion, Justice Department was itself a corrupt, absurd agency and this meant it didn't matter if he lined his own pockets. He considered it a farce that the 'good' judges like Joe were using just as much brutality as he did.[5]

Rico laughing

Rico's crimes started with allowing gangs to operate as long as they stayed 'quiet'. This soon escalated to allowing guilty perps to remain free, unjudicial relations and drinking, taking bribes from organised crime,[6] running blackmail operations, protection rackets, killing perps that had surrendered (and faking the charges) and brutalising innocent people to get 'confessions'. As he had a high clearance rate, Justice Department didn't look at him too closely.[7] Joe's efforts to persuade Rico to change his ways fell on deaf ears and much to Joe's distate, he found himself turning to Rico on occasion for information on underworld figures.[8] Rico ended up in charge of a large number of brothel protection rackets, and had taken a juve named Evan Quasarano under his wing allegedly to steer him away from crime but ended up using him as an enforcer (and having relations with his sister).[9]

When Judge Kenner, Rico's former Assessing Judge, became suspicious, Rico secretly murdered him and dumped the body in a rad pit.[10] He started to live in an Oldtown apartment, flaunting his money and corruption.[11]

Rico sunbathing

Rico at his Oldtown apartment

In the ebook The Third Law, Rico Dredd as narrator tells the reader that he was trying to enforce the law in a less remote fashion, allowing for mercy and accepting the citizens as they were; bribes are explained as a way of making sure the crimelords believed they controlled him and he wasn't the one ensuring they kept restrained. Sex and drinking are shrugged off as perks, and threats to Joe as being the result of drinking. Rico is implied to be an unreliable narrator and this calls his claims into questions. Notably, he claims he couldn't shoot Kenner in case the bullets were traced and he used the rad pit to kill him, and regretted 'having' to kill him; the original strip shows him hitting Kenner with an incendary round, shooting his limbs, and mocking him as he dies, using the rad pit to dispose of the corpse.[12] The ebook Wear Iron is told in third-person and describes Rico's thoughts circa 2080: here, when he isn't telling his own story, he's callous, brutal, and sometimes bursts out in manic laughter. He remembers Kenner's murder fondly.

You'll pay with your life then

Eventually Rico allowed his brother to find out about his racketeering. When Joe witnessed Rico murder an innocent cafe owner who had refused to pay him protection money, Joe arrested him. Rico resisted arrest by opening fire, but the shots went wide. Given Rico's skill with a firearm, Joe would later posit the theory that Rico was trying to commit suicide by cop out of a deep disgust at what he had become, rather than trying to kill him.[13] In The Third Law, Rico reveals the shop owner was a chocolate smuggler he was shaking down and claims he had only meant to wound the owner to throw a scare into him. Rather than suicide by cop, Rico claims he just couldn't shoot his brother.

Whatever his motive, Rico was sentenced to twenty years hard labour on the Titan penal colony, where he grew to hate his brother. He was particularly angry that Joe didn't testify in his favour.[14]

The site of the brothers' showdown would become haunted by seepage from a parallel universe where Dredd shot his brother. This drove everyone who bought it insane or dead before it was abandoned. [15]

While Titan would become the mandatory sentence for corrupt judges, in 2079/80 only a few were sent there and the majority were civilian prisoners from various mega-cities; early on, the "Titan treatment" of being disfigured and modified to breath Titan's atmosphere was only done to prisoners as a punishment. Rico and a bus load of prisoners and guards were trapped on the moon after a hailstorm, with Rico helping get the survivors free. Corrupt guards began killing prisoners on their march to safety in order to preserve oxygen for themselves and Rico was left as the only survivor, after killing the remaining guards. While he was rescued soon after (and realised someone had given him enough oxygen to make it), the prison officials had him modified on spurious grounds: he'd survived on the moon surface and they wanted to discourage other prisoners from believing this could be done to escape.[16] For the rest of his sentence, he received 'personal' treatment from the guards: the lack of crooked judges in the early days meant any caught were put through hell.

A few years into his sentence, he was 'volunteered' for a rescue team sent to a secret, illegal miilitary base - the place that gave him the oxygen he'd needed in 2080. The inhabitants had been massacred by an experimental super-soldier who'd been modified based on Rico's own procedure. Rico and his semi-allies were able to restrain and calm him, only to be marked for death by the covert operations' soldiers who arrived later to dispose of witnesses. In the end, Rico set them all up to die before they could report anyone at Titan knew about the experiments.[17]

Rico's reveal

While on Titan there he illicitly fathered a daughter, Vienna Dredd, with a reporter who was interviewing him.[18] He discovered a crashed escape pod with an alien prince inside and sent out the pod's escape signal; in exchange, he asked that the alien fleet destroy the Earth when they arrived. He only told the truth to Jude, the oldest Titan prisoner, but rumours of "Rico's Rock" containing a great treasure would circulate through Titan for decades. (When the aliens arrived in the 2120s, Dredd impersonated Rico to call off the attack)[19] Even in his early months, Rico - having worked out there was an anti-alien military base on Titan - considered selling out Earth to hostile aliens in order to escape.[20]



After serving his time on Titan, Rico returned to Mega-City One seeking revenge on Joe. Confronting him at his home, Rico challenged him to a duel to settle their differences, knowing that with his superior skills he could always outdraw his brother. However he had grown used to the weaker gravity of Titan after his twenty years there. This slowed him down by a split second and allowed Joe to shoot him dead. Carrying his brother's lifeless body out into the street, Joe declined a paramedic's offer of assistance, allowing the writer, Pat Mills, to conclude the story with a line from the Hollies song, "He ain't heavy - he's my brother!"

(In the retelling, Rico brings up the violence and hypocrisy of Justice Department as well as what he's gone through on Titan)

Long after Rico's death, Dredd would be haunted by his memory. He tried to stop Vienna from learning about her father's death but she believed he must have had a good reason for killing him. For a few years in the 2080s, some other Judges were suspicious of Joe Dredd and felt he would follow his brother into crime.

One of the Dredd/Fargo clones would take his name in an attempt to rehabilitate it; Gila Bruja would attack this Judge Rico with the spectre of his namesake, but Rico overcame him.[21]

Alternate Versions[]

Several versions of Rico have been shown in alternate timelines or Dredd's idea of alternate timelines.

Dread Dominion depicts a universe where Dredd executed Rico rather than arrest him and descended into madness. Rico had survived and worked with that dimension's Judge Cal to overthrow his brother.

A Winter Special showed a universe where Rico survived and his influence spread: by 2117, Justice Department is a corrupt gangster state and Rico was the top enforcer. (The framing story means this could be a dream by Joe Dredd)[22]

After inadvertently consuming hallucinogens, Dredd imagines a timeline where he never existed and Rico carried vital medicine across the Cursed Earth instead. Instead of giving it to Mega-City Two, Rico blackmails the city into making him Chief Judge.[23]

Helter Skelter's Rico[]

On an alternate earth Rico out drew his brother and kept him frozen in the vaults. Waking him every year to take another pound of flesh. He was contacted by another earth's Murd the Oppressor to join a group of Dredd's enemies from alternate earth's under Chief Judge Cal's leadership to get revenge on Dredd, with the promise that he would have the honour of killing him.

When the group confronted Dredd, Rico boasted that the only reason Dredd killed his Rico was because he let him win. Dredd beat him in the draw by throwing his badge since he was unarmed, embedding it in his forehead, as Dredd retrieved his badge Rico cursed him with his last breath.


Although in the original story, Rico was depicted wearing a Judge's badge with the name "Dredd", some artists in later stories have erroneously drawn him with a badge labelled "Rico" as though it were his surname. This error was also included in the script to a story by writer Gordon Rennie.[24] This is possibly based on confusion with the character Judge Rico, whose surname is Rico and whose badge therefore bears that name (see image here).

When Michael Carroll wrote an e-book novella about Rico in 2014, he dealt with this issue in the story. In an interview with Irish Comic News he explained: "My argument has always been that Rico’s badge should show his surname… like every other Street Judge in Mega-City One. Why should he be the only one to have his first name on his badge? ... But Gordon’s story “Judgement” makes a plot-point of Rico temporarily wearing a “Dredd” badge in order to fool Judge Kenner into thinking that he is Joe … So I had to make a choice. In my re-telling of the relevant scenes from “Judgement” I omitted the part about the badge-swap. So far, no one has complained!"[25]


See Also[]

  1. Origins
  2. Return of Rico, Blood Cadet
  3. Origins
  4. "Blood Cadets," 2000 AD #1187-88
  5. Prog 950-1: "Return of Rico" retelling and Judge Dredd Year One - Wear Iron, chapter 6 (Al Ewing)
  6. Rico Dredd: The Titan Years - The Third Law by Michael Carroll
  7. Wear Iron
  8. Judge Dredd Year One - City Fathers by Matt Smith
  9. Rico Dredd: The Titan Years - The Third Law by Michael Carroll
  10. "Judgement," 2000 AD #1523-1528
  11. "Blood Cadets" 2000 AD #1188
  12. Prog 1523 and 1525
  13. "Blood Cadets," 2000 AD #1188
  14. Rico Dredd: The Titan Years - The Third Law by Michael Carroll
  15. Dread Dominion novel
  16. Rico Dredd: The Titan Years - The Third Law by Michael Carroll
  17. The Process of Elimination novella
  18. "Blood & Duty," 2000 AD #1300
  19. Judge Dredd: Trapped on Titan audio drama
  20. Rico Dredd: The Titan Years - The Third Law by Michael Carroll
  21. Going After Billy Zane, Megs 314 to 318
  22. 2000 AD Winter Special 1995: "Perchance to Dream"
  23. Megazine 2.44-45
  24. "Judgement," 2000 AD #1523-1528
  25. ICN's website (retrieved 30 July 2014)

Judge Dredd
Main Characters Judge Dredd - Judge Hershey - Judge Anderson - Judge Beeny - Judge Buell - Galen DeMarco - Dirty Frank - Judge Edgar - Chief Judge Fargo - Judge Francisco - Judge Giant - Judge Goodman - Judge Griffin - Judge Guthrie - Judge Janus - Judge Karyn - Judge McGruder - Judge Niles - Judge Rico - Judge Shenker - Judge Silver - Judge Solomon - Judge Volt - Detective-Judge Armitage - Inspector Shimura - Devlin Waugh - Johnny Woo - Judge Larter - Judge Jack - Judge Agee - Judge Bennett - Judge Castillo - Judge Dekker - Judge Goon - Deputy Cheif Judge Herriman - Judge Kruger - Judge Munn - Judge Perrier - Judge Prager - Judge Minty - Detective-Judge Steel - Detective Judge Trant - Judge Kazan - Chief Judge Ohno - Judge-Inspector Akio Anaba - Judge Marshall Lawson
Recurring Villains Angel Gang - Mean Machine Angel - Elmer Angel - Junior Angel - Link Angel - Judge Bachmann - Oola Blint - President Booth - Judge Cal - Dark Judges - Rico Dredd - Armon Gill - Judge Grice - Morton Judd - Kleggs - Judge Kraken - Mechanismo - Stan Lee - Marty Zpok - PJ Maybe - Nero Narcos - Orlock - Shojun the Warlord - Judge Sinfield - Call-Me-Kenneth - Mr. Moonie - Murd the Oppresor - Owen Krysler - Don Uggie Apelino - Captain Skank - Father Earth - Kazan - Bulgarin - General Blood'n'Guts - Satanus - Satan - Fink Angel - Ratty - Rhode Island Red - Phobia - Nausia - America Jara - Cesare - Judge Mortis - Judge Fear - Judge Death - Judge Fire - Manners - Ramses - Trapper Hag - Sabbat - Wu Yang - Yin Mie - Randolph Whitely - Judge Choke - Judge Sleep - Judge Sludge - Judge Burroghs - Judge Fistula - Judge Skinner - Judge Stigmata - The Seven Samurai - Rex Peters - Slocum - Kenny Who? - Nosferatu - Grampus - Heavy Metal Kid - Ratty - Elvis - The Warlords - DeGaulle - The Joker - The Scarecrow - The Riddler - Arnold Wesker - Lobo - Judge Kurten - Pink Eyes - Aimee Nixon - Mr. Bones - Effil Drago San - Bella Bagley - Dune Sharks - Xenomorphs - Ueno Hama - Raptaurs - The Explosive Man - Judge Sherman - Ankhhor - President Clinton Box - Pamelina Oswin
Other Characters Chopper - Vienna Dredd - Fergee - Yassa Povey - Jacob Sardini - Walter the Wobot - Henry Ford - Spikes Harvey Rotten - Tweak - Tony Tubbs - Otto Sump - Mrs. Gunderson - Sensitive Klegg - Jack Point - Maria - Benneet Beeny - Grunwalder - Old Joe Blind - Max Normal - Toots Milloy - Mr. Harke - Mr. Burr - Jim Grubb - Dave the Orangutan - Nimrod - The Creep - Johnny Alpha - Wulf Sternhammer - The Fargo Clan - Randy Fargo - Jubal Fargo - Hocus Ritter - Batman - Harry Henson
Storylines America - The Apocalypse War - Block Mania - City of the Damned - The Cursed Earth - Day of Chaos - Democracy - The Doomsday Scenario - The Hunting Party - The Judge Child - Judgement Day - Mechanismo - Mutants - Necropolis - Origins - Oz - The Pit - The Robot Wars - Tour of Duty Trifecta - Wilderlands
Crossovers Judge Dredd vs. Aliens - Judgement on Gotham - Predator vs. Judge Dredd - Mars Attacks Judge Dredd