Superhero Origins: Judge Dredd

In his debut appearance, Judge Dredd was introduced as the most famed and prestigious of the elite police force known as the “Street Judges” in the 22nd century. An officer of Mega-City One, he polices a vast decaying urban civilization packed with over 400 million poverty stricken citizens that have survived World War III’s Great Atomic Wars. As one of the few charged with streamlining the justice system to prevent all out anarchy, he has total power to apprehend, convict and sentence suspects on the spot. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origins of Judge Dredd.
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Superhero Origins: Judge Dredd

He is the law. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be exploring the comic book origins of Judge Dredd.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline that unfolded in 1977’s British Anthology magazine 2000AD #2, and was expanded upon in its 2006 “Origins” story arch.

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 polices a vast decaying urban civilization packed with over 400 million citizens that are crammed city-blocks. Located on what is left of the east coast of the United States, it was one of the few mega cities to survive World War III’s Great Atomic Wars due to its laser defense systems.

A poverty stricken metropolis, Maga 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 a “Lawgiver” pistol, which is capable of firing six different types of ammunition and can only be used by him by means of palm print recognition. He was likewise been armed with a daystick, a variety of grenades, and his trusty “Lawmaster” motorbike, packed with devastating firepower and advanced computer AI.

Just as justice has no identity, Judge 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 comic’s creators also chose to name their hero Dredd in order to reflect the fear and panic he would evoke in the hearts of criminals.

While Dredd has remained a mysterious comic 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 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 offences. A law enforcement officer with advanced skills and 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 downtrodden citizens and mutants, but has always maintained the law throughout.

The flagship entry in the sci-fi comic compilation series 2000AD, Dredd has increasingly continued to feature prominently, and has even aged with the comic books in real time. Just as his first comic appearance was in 1977 and that first 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 Carl Urban that stayed closer to the gritty comic, simply titled “Dredd.”

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