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Judge Dredd (comic)

British comic series starting in the anthology series 2000 A.D.

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The Judges: The scary thing is that they could be a reality someday.

  • May 6, 2010
  • by
Do me one favor, before you read this, don't think of ANYTHING from the Stallone movie that this book is based off of, and BASED on is used loosely.

Judge Dredd has been around a good 30 years at least now, created by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Pat Mills and is the most famous comic character in Britian with his appearances in the anthology comic 2000 AD since it's second issue and has had that work translated into many other regular books.

Whats it about, well being sarcastic I covered that in my review of the movie but lets take another stab at it.

In the future, a nuclear war has wiped out and contaminated the surface of the earth and has been renamed "The Cursed Earth:" a polluted and radioactive wasteland.  Sections of the Earth have been made habitable by constructing new cities: "Mega Cities" as they are called house people inside of enormus skyscrapers like tenements and people get stir crazy and turn to crime out of boredom, desperation, insanity or lack of work since only the rich have jobs and almost the whole population is out of work with automation making up the work force.

Enter the Judges.  An armored police force with guns, motorcycles, radios, whatever they need for a job.  With so much crime and anarchy always a few steps away-due process, trials and the like are simply not an option and Judges upon arriving at a crime scene and subduing and catching the criminals assign sentancing for everything from simple things like not driving fast enough on a highway, jay walking, pickpocketing, armed robbery, murder and even mass gun fights and block wars, where one tower block wages war against the other.  Just imagine two skyscrapers with guns pointing out of the windows and shooting at each other.  Minor crimes may be a few weeks in jail and the major ones can warrant death on the spot as in:  "Two counts of murder, the sentance is death (pulls out gun) BLAM!"

Judge Dredd is the most stern and unapologetic of the street judges, handing down the stiffest sentances, getting the hardest jobs and stopping the biggest crimes.  Dredd has his moments of sympathy but he's an unapologetic stormtrooper in is a facist land - AND the HERO of the book.  Some people think there is nothing wrong with Dredd and the other judges with the ends justifying the means but some would say the methods are of the judges free reign is wrong at an expense of liberty for safety-of course since there are NO cilivl rights to violate in this world, thats a rather moot point at times. 

If that example sounds familiar, then it should since for it's near 30 year run, Dredd has tackled various issues of the modern world with parellel problems faced in the book ramped up.  Subjects about having mutant creatures having the same rights as the other citizens of Mega City One and even terrorism have come into the book but can transcend topical issues with the stories displacement from our own time.  Other stories like space travel at times, kidnapping, War and other stories.  Supernatural elements like psychics, alternate dimensions and demons can even come into play.  Throw in some black humor, action and the sci fi element and you have the comic.

The artists on Dredd have changed alot of the course of the years.  The early years were gritty, a couple of years later they were GORGOUS (thank you John Wagner and Brian Bolland) and then got real ugly with the drawings in the book looking like they were drawn with a chipped charcoal pencil and colored in with chalk - but thankfully the stories stood up.  Proceeding artwork has been equally hit or miss.  Authors have included over the years: Mark Millar, John Smith, Grant Morrison and yes, Garth Ennis.  Take that last one for what it is if you know who Ennis is.

Of the stories, many are standouts and others are just kinda there.  One has Dredd making a cross country journey across the Cursed Earth and it's wastelands and mutants to deliver a vaccine to a plague stricken city and it has it's parellels to Damnation Alley.  Another has an insane Judge council member put his own FISH on the council while he runs the city into the ground with mercenaries and strict laws and crazy ideas.  His name?  Judge Cal (as in Caligula).  Theres the infamous Apacolypse War where the Russian Mega City of East Meg 1 launches devastating nuclear war against Mega City 1 and Dredd and other Judges must STRUGGLE to fight back.  Many call the story AMERICA - the best and most "in spirit" Dredd story with Dredd coming between two lovers, one of whom is a terrorist against the Judges.

Judge Dredd isn't all that easy to find and is only carried in sporadic comic shops, usually in larger cities or stores with a large back stock.  Many of the most popular stories have been reprinted in graphic novel form so they won't be impossible to find in store or online.  I certainly hope I got you interested in this book, especially if that Stallone movie is still lingering around your head.
The Judges: The scary thing is that they could be a reality someday. The Judges: The scary thing is that they could be a reality someday.

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October 28, 2010
Love the opening sentence man, great job.
October 28, 2010
It is scary if you think about it that the legal system and crime rate get so overrun that this could be a consideration. Lets hope it's a ways off if it happens at all.
July 30, 2010
Nice review, TheJohn. Like me, I'm sure you'll be hoping the new movie adaptation sticks closer to the source material than the Stallone version did.
July 30, 2010
That goes without saying. I've seen the Stallone version many times and while I enjoy it, there are so many glaring issues with continuity and overall averageness about the movie.
More Judge Dredd (comic) reviews
Quick Tip by . May 06, 2010
Post Apacolyptic future that is violent, bleak and hopeless. The Judges must keep order in this satirical action comic.
Quick Tip by . May 06, 2010
Anarchy reigns in the future, but not if the Judges have anything to say about it. Black comedy, action and more in this classic.
About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #8
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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Comic series started in the 2000 AD anthology series and has appeared in all but it's first issue.  Covers the world of Judge Dredd in a post apacolyptic future where anarchy reigns and only he and his fellow Judges can keep order.

Judge Joe Dredd is a comics character whose strip in the British science fiction anthology 2000 AD is the magazine's longest running (having been featured there since its second issue in 1977). Dredd is a law enforcement officer in a violent city of the future where uniformed Judges combine the powers of police, judge, jury and executioner. Dredd and his fellow Judges are empowered to arrest, sentence and even execute criminals on the spot. He was created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, although editor Pat Mills also deserves some credit for his early development.

Judge Dredd is amongst the UK's best known home-grown comic characters. So great is the character's reputation that his name is sometimes invoked over similar issues to those explored by the comic series, such as the police state, authoritarianism and the rule of law.[1] Judge Dredd was named the seventh greatest comic character by the magazine Empire.[2]

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