by Ryan Rigley
With "Dredd 3D" set to hit theaters this Friday, audiences all across the country are asking but one thing: who the hell is Judge Dredd? Created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, at the request of Pat Mills, Judge Dredd is perhaps one of the UK's greatest and best-known comic book characters, having been featured in Britain's premier sci-fi anthology 2000 AD for over three decades now.
Taking place in the dystopian ruins of a 22nd century America, Dredd acts as the most feared and powerful member of an elite corps of Judges tasked with enforcing the law in Mega-City One. In other words, he is the law. Click past the jump for more on Judge Dredd!
1. Birth Name
First of all, Judge Dredd's first name is Joseph. Not Judge. How crazy is that?
2. Judge, Jury & Executioner
The Judges of Mega-City One have the power to not only enforce the law, but also act as judge, jury, and executioner if need be.
3. Made for the Job
Joseph Dredd and his brother, Rico Dredd, were both cloned from the DNA of Chief Judge Fargo, the first chief judge of Mega-City One.
Dredd's weapon of choice is a handgun called the "Lawgiver" that has been DNA-coded so that no one else can use it. If someone that's not Dredd tries to use the weapon, it will explode.
Dredd's motorbike, the "Lawmaster," has two powerful side cannons and one centrally-mounted laser. It comes fully equipped with Artificial Intelligence (making it capable of driving itself), a video communications system, and is directly connected to the Justice Department.
6. Famous Writers
Several of the biggest names in comic books got their start by writing for Judge Dredd Magazine, including the likes of Garth Ennis ("Preacher"), Mark Millar ("Kick-Ass," "Wanted"), and Grant Morrison ("All-Star Superman," "Batman Incorporated").
7. Racial Issues
In his earliest inception, Dredd's racial background was meant to be unspecified. However, not all of the artists working on the series were told. As a result, artist Mike McMahon spent four months drawing Dredd as a black man. But since the strip was printed in black and white, the change went about unnoticed.
8. Comics in Real Time
You know how Spider-Man has been the same age for the past 5 decades? Well, Judge Dredd ages in real time; if a year passes in real life, a year passes in the comic strip also. Despite his rugged exterior, Judge Dredd is now well over 72 years old.
Judge Dredd has been involved in several huge crossovers featuring popular movie and comic book characters, including the likes of the Xenomorphs ("Judge Dredd Vs. Aliens"), Predators ("Predator Vs. Judge Dredd"), and even Batman ("Judgement on Gotham").
One of the most popular songs by '80s thrash metal band Anthrax, "I Am The Law," is a tribute to Judge Dredd. They've released a 12" single and a 7" picture disc for the track, both sporting the image of Judge Dredd on the cover.
11. World Savior
Although Dredd has been offered the position of Chief Judge, he admittedly prefers to serve on the streets; enforcing his own brand of rough justice. Dredd has saved Mega-City One from annihilation on several occasions and even once single-handedly saved the entire world from total destruction during The Fourth World War.
12. Cancer Stricken
In 2008, Judge Dredd was diagnosed with benign cancer of the duodenum. Even though his cancer has been said to be operable, there are still no long term plans to address the issue.
13. Faceless Justice
Throughout the many years since his creation in 1977, Judge Dredd has never once removed his helmet to reveal his face. There have been a handful of flashbacks showing a helmet-less young Dredd, but other than that the character's current appearance remains a mystery.
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