The eponymous hero of Judge Dredd, the most famous of 2000 AD's strips (and also a strip in the Judge Dredd Megazine), was 'born' in Mega-City One in 2066 AD. Joseph Dredd was the clone of Chief Judge Eustace Fargo, the founder of the Judge system. Like his clone brother Rico, he was effectively born aged five years old thanks to accelerated aging techniques, and immediately inducted into the Academy of Law. The brothers graduated the Academy in 2079 (Joe graduated second in his class; Rico was first), but Joe was forced to arrest his brother for murder and corruption shortly afterwards. Rico was sentenced to the Judges' penal colony on Titan, while Joe Dredd became known as the most respected and feared of the street Judges, his name synonymous with the law in Mega-City One. Rico later returned for revenge, and Dredd was forced to kill him.
Dredd has been instrumental in saving the city many times over the decades, facing foes such as the extradimensional superfiend Judge Death, the Fink, the Mean Machine and the rest of the notorious Angel Gang, and the serial killer PJ Maybe, and meeting bizarre characters like Otto Sump, Max Normal, Chopper and Dave the Orangutan among many others. He led the rebellion against the insane Chief Judge Cal, defeated the robot revolutionary Call-Me-Kenneth and deposed the corrupt Chief Judge Sinfield. He also embarked upon the Cursed Earth saga, stopped The Apocalypse War (by killing 500 million Sov citizens with missiles) and undertook The Judge Child Quest.
Dredd has now been active as a Judge for over fifty years, and has been elevated to a position on the City's ruling Council of Five. He has repeatedly turned down attempts to appoint him Chief Judge as he believes he belongs on the streets, dispensing justice.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Mega-City One's best Judge; bionic eyes give him enhanced clarity over distance and 20-20 night vision.
Peak human male.
Dredd's eyes are bionic implants which can be rendered useless by an electromagnetic pulse. He lost his natural eyes some years ago fighting "some lizard monstrosity in a future that will never happen" (Rob Williams).
Accessory pouch containing three heat seeker shells; helmet containing internal visor display and respirator; uniform made from plasti-steel reinforced material.
Lawgiver handgun which can fire six types of shell: general purpose, rubber ricochet, incendiary, armour piercing, grenade and high explosive. Also daystick and bootknife.
- Dredd once kept an apartment in Rowdy Yates Block and employed an Italian cleaning lady called Maria (standard dialogue: "A younga man like you — he should not work all da time"), though he has since dispensed with any such trappings of a normal civilian life. He does, however, maintain a familial attachment of sorts to his niece Vienna Dredd, the illegitimate daughter of his late brother Rico, and also to his own clones, Judge Rico and Dolman.
- Dredd is the author of The Comportment of a Judge, a set text at the Academy of Law.
- In a rare moment of relaxation, in 2000 AD prog 33 Dredd was seen reading Crime and Punishment, presumably the famous novel by Dostoyevsky.
- In 2000 AD prog 221 Dredd busted an illegal stookie farm. The grateful stookies responded by making Dredd an honorary stookie.
- Dredd is double zero rated for psychic sensitivity.
- Dredd was a rookie under Judge Morphy, who promoted him to full Judge status.
- In 2000 AD prog 389 Dredd told a reader that "Judges are authorised to use a selection of oaths in the event of an upsurge in their adrenalin factor. 'Stomm', 'Drokk' and 'Grud' are legal expletives."
- In 2000 AD prog 523 Tharg said: "Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot and the name Dredd was chosen to strike fear into the hearts of wrong-doers everywhere."
- The class of '79 (Dredd's cohort at the Academy of Law) seems to have contained an unusually high number of bent Judges. Judges Rico Dredd, Gibson, and Raider all went off the rails and had to be executed by Dredd. Dredd's own conduct has been impeccable, but he did kill 500 million Sov citizens during the Apocalypse War, which surely makes him responsible for more deaths than any other Judge.
- Dredd's face is never shown, as he represents faceless authority. It was originally intended that he might be non-white (a rarity for British comics heroes back in 1977), so artist Mick McMahon drew him as a black man for some months but, since other artists were not following suit and the strip was in black & white at the time anyway, the idea was soon dropped.
- Dredd removed his helmet in 2000 AD prog 7, but the image was censored (see gallery). The accompanying dialogue suggested that his face was hideously deformed.
- Dredd also removed his helmet in 2000 AD prog 52, in order to infiltrate a criminal gang with the aid of a face-changing machine (see gallery). Therefore, the face that the readers saw was not in fact Dredd's own.
- Dredd's helmet fell off in prog 328 and his face was revealed, but he was a werewolf at the time (see gallery).
- Dredd removed his helmet in 2000 AD prog 515 to create a decoy wearing his uniform. His face was cloaked in shadow and therefore unrevealed (see gallery).
- When Dredd was surprised in bed in Rowdy Yates conapt at 0300 hours (when he still lived there) it was revealed that he apparently sleeps with his helmet on.
- In 2000 AD prog 626 Dredd was shown in the bath, but his face was out of shot (see gallery).
- Dredd's face was shown in the strip The Dead Man, but (a) for most of the strip the readers didn't know that the eponymous protagonist was him, and (b) his face was so scarred by acid that it almost didn't look like a face at all (see gallery).
- Spin-off publications starring Dredd include the Judge Dredd Megazine, Judge Dredd: The Poster Prog, the Judge Dredd Annual and, for younger readers, Judge Dredd, Lawman of the Future. Several licensed versions of Dredd have been published in America (See Judge Dredd (DC Comics)).
- Dredd also starred in a long running newspaper strip in the Daily Star.
- Two Judge Dredd movies have so far been produced, Judge Dredd (1995) starring Sylvester Stallone, and Dredd (2012) starring Karl Urban. The character has also starred in novels and in audio dramas produced by Big Finish productions (voiced by Toby Longworth).
- In June 2014 the Spectator described Judge Dredd as "the fascist future cop whom we love to love."
- Appearances of Judge Joseph Dredd
- Images featuring Judge Joseph Dredd
- Quotations by or about Judge Joseph Dredd
- Character Gallery: Judge Joseph Dredd