I am the Law! In this blog, we’ll be exploring the comic origins of Judge Dredd.
As with most comic book characters, there are often reimaging and different versions of a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline that unfolded in 1977, British anthology magazine 2000 AD#2- which was expanded upon in its 2006 origin story arc.
In his debut appearance, Judge Dredd was introduced as the most famed and prestigious of the elite police force known as the street judges from the 22nd century. An officer of mega city one, he places a vast decaying urban civilization packed with over 4 million citizens that are crammed into city blocks.
Located on what is left of the East Coast of the United States, it was one of the few megacities to survive World War 3’s great Atomic Wars due to its laser defense systems. A poverty-stricken metropolis, mega city one is plagued with an epidemic of unemployment overcrowding and crime, it is also surrounded by an irradiated wasteland called the cursed earth which covers most of what remains of the continent. As one of the few charged with streamlining the justice system to prevent all-out anarchy, the street judges have the total power to apprehend convict and sentence suspects on the spot.
As judge, jury, and executioner, Dredd is armed with the lawgiver pistol which is capable of firing six different types of ammunition and can only be used by him by means of a palm print recognition.
He is likewise armed with a day stick, a variety of grenades and his trusty law master motorcycle packed with devastating firepower and advanced computer AI. Just as justice has no identity, Dredd’s face is never revealed in the comics as he is always wearing his helmet. Interestingly, in the early adventures, his artists kept changing the proportions of his lips and jaw as each envisioned him with a different racial background in mind. The comics creators also chose to name their hero Dredd in order to reflect the fear and panic he would have evoked in the hearts of criminals.
While Dredd has remained a mysterious comic-book hero, his origin has been revealed to be the product of cloning, created alongside his twin brother Rico, he is the heir and DNA equivalent of Chief Judge Fargo, the first Chief judge. Growing up in the Academy of law, he was conditioned to spend every waking moment on patrol, this makes him a unique hero that never takes a break. When not fighting crime, he returns to the Grand Hall of Justice, only to spend ten minutes in a sleep machine and to rearm before returning to his never-ending duty. As a subject of genetic manipulation and conditioning, Dredd is unable to ignore any crime and goes as far as to address even the most minor of offenses.
A law enforcement officer with advanced skills and an unstoppable nature, he has had to deal with such events as a robot uprising and the disgrace of his brother Rico who revealed himself to be a dirty judge who sought to frame Dredd and ruin his career.
Throughout the years and his countless adventures, Dredd has come to question his existence and role in the dystopian future even sometimes sympathizing with the plight of the downtrodden citizens and muse. But it always maintained the law throughout. The flagship entry in the sci-fi comic compilation 2000 AD, Dredd has increasingly continued to be featured prominently and is even-aged with the comic books in real-time. Just as this first comic appearance was in 1977 and that story was set in 2099, the real world and fictional timelines have continued to advance in step with one another. The no-nonsense character has received two feature film adaptations, one in 1995, starring Sylvester Stallone as well as a 2012 remake starring Karl Urban that tried to stay closer to the gritty comic book simply titled DREDD.
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