|First Appearance||Judge Whitey|
Judge Joseph 'Joe' Dredd is the primary character in the Dredd universe. A clone of the acclaimed 'Father of Justice' Eustace T. Fargo, Dredd is the most feared and renowned of the Judges in Mega-City One, famous worldwide due to his exploits.
Dredd is every bit as hard as his chiselled, rugged appearance: stern, grounded and with a mind like a clenched fist. He has incredible difficulties. That said, Dredd has repeatedly been shown to have deep reservations about the system he upholds. Because of this there are rare times he has taken exceptions to bend the law so it is in favour of those he believed deserved another chance. Despite this, many of his fellow Judges and nearly all the citizens he polices tend to consider him a stone-cold killer.
Birth and TrainingEdit
After the attempted suicide of Chief Judge Fargo, it was decided to have him cloned to continue his lineage. Under the control of the Head of Genetics Morton Judd, Joseph and his brother Rico were born at an accelerated age of five and immediately enrolled into the Academy of Law.
They trained for several years in the Class of '79 with the two at the top of their class, Rico being only slightly superior to Joseph. When they were fourteen the then President of the United States launched a nuclear attack across the world starting what would later be called The Atomic Wars. This also caused a civil war between the Judges and President Booth's military.
Rico and Joseph met Fargo for the first time and rescued him from a full scale assault by Booth's military. Shortly afterwards Booth's army was defeated and he was placed in suspended animation before being locked away in Fort Knox as a punishment. Fargo was also placed in suspended animation after meeting his clones one last time. Two weeks after, however, Fargo's body was mysteriously stolen without a trace.
Eventually Joseph and Rico went on their final stage of assessment and on their Hotdog Run. Rico was critically injured, to the extent that Joseph believed it to have twisted his mind. After recovery the two went on their final assessment, Joseph with Judge Morph and Rico with Judge Kenner (who would end up being murdered by Rico). The two passed and were awarded their full eagles.
Joe Dredd quickly made a name for himself in Mega-City One, taking down gangs and murderers and becoming a hero amongst the people. Unfortunately, Rico chose a different path and bent to the law to his own will. This resulted in him being arrested by Dredd and getting sent to the prison colony for corrupt Judges on Titan, accused of the crime of murder.
This failed to effect Dredd's efficiency however as he continued to make his presence known. During one case he tackled the criminal known as Whitey (the first Judge Dredd episode in 2000 AD, appearing in prog 2). Despite being apprehended with little effort and sent to Devil's Island, Whitey would return to plague Dredd several more times over the forthcoming years.
After several more cases, Dredd was called in to take down a rampaging carpentry robot named Call-Me-Kenneth. Dredd destroyed the robot, only for it to be rebuilt. A simple error caused Call-Me-Kenneth to return to his previous psychopathic behaviour and rally an army of robots to join his cause of exterminating humans, whom the robots called "the fleshy ones."
This led to the first Robot Wars, during which Dredd met the robot Walter, a small servo-droid with a speech impediment caused by his abject terror when he thought his human masters would kill him. Dredd and Walter successfully put an end to Kenneth's revolution before Dredd took down the insane droid himself. As a reward, Dredd was celebrated as a hero and Walter was made Mega-City One's first ever free robot. With his freedom Walter decided to become Dredd's servant and would become a common recurring character alongside Dredd's cleaner Maria.
In the aftermath of the war Dredd would train and assess Cadet Giant, pass Giant as a Judge, take down the fanatical Neon Knights (a group of anti-robot anarchists), thwart a Trog terrorist plot to destroy Mega-City One, take down a former classmate masquerading as the criminal Mutie the Pig, and battle Don Uggie's Ape Gang. However, the most important case during this era was the return of his brother Rico. Having been disfigured by the breathing apparatus that had been surgically applied to his face, Rico had worked day and night shifting rocks on Titan and had come back with a thirst for revenge. Rico challenged his brother to a stand-off, but Titan's lower gravity had slowed Rico's reaction time, allowing Dredd to get the upper hand and shoot him down. Shortly afterwards Rico died in his arms.
Dredd was then promoted to a short term as the Marshal of Luna-City 1 where he transformed the city from a crime-filled cesspit to a lawful industrious neighbourhood within weeks, despite having numerous attempts made on his life by killer cars and the Moonie Corporation. He left Luna-City 1 in triumph, a Judge from Texas City having been appointed its permanent Marshal.
The Cursed EarthEdit
Owing to his years of distinguished service, Dredd was ordered to lead a small team of Judges across the Cursed Earth and deliver a vaccine to the plague-ridden Mega-City Two. For assistance, Dredd ordered the biker Spikes Harvey Rotten to guide them across the dangerous terrain.
Along the way Dredd fought against numerous foes as he drove across the irradiated wastelands of what used to be America, including a swarm of flying rats named The Devil's Lapdogs, Brother Morgar and his Mutant Brotherhood and the colossal black tyrannosaur Satanus. Halfway through the trek Dredd met the alien slave Tweak who assisted them on the way.
Eventually they reached Death Valley, the last major obstacle on their way to Mega-City Two. Spikes, Tweak and Dredd were forced to battle against an army of Mek-Troopers left over from the Atomic Wars. After several days, Spikes was gravely wounded and went out in a kamikaze attack trying to destroy as many Meks as possible before being shot down. Dredd and Tweak managed to escape shortly afterwards, but the two lost one another in the desert storms. Eventually Dredd made it to the gates of Mega-City Two and delivered the cure. Tweak was sent back to his home planet and after several days' medical care Dredd returned to Mega-City One.
The Day the Law DiedEdit
Having only just returned from his journey, Dredd is almost instantly arrested by SJS Judges after being framed for murdering a newspaper editor and his photographer. While not putting up and resistance during his arrest and trial, Dredd was horrified at the thought of the surgical modifications he would be forced to go through on Titan and decided to fight against his sentence. Going into hiding in MC-1, Dredd was able to get information on who framed him from his informant Max Normal, who leads him to a robot designer named Chick Parker. Dredd breaks into Parker's home only to find him dead, and his killer to be a robot duplicate of himself. The fake Dredd robot then reveals that he was the one who framed Dredd and proceeds to try and kill the original, it fails however and is instead burnt out in a furnace. Fishing its head from the furnace as evidence, Dredd proves his innocence and sets out hunting for whoever it was that commissioned the robot from Parker in the first place.
Shortly after, Chief Judge Goodman fell victim to an assassination, in his dying words, he gives Dredd a clue that leads him find the SJS as the responsible party. After making this discovery however, he is shot by SJS Judge Quincy which leaves him in a coma for several days. During this time, Judge Cal, head of the SJS division, is instated as the new Chief Judge and quickly goes about setting a new tyrannical rule. Dredd eventually awakens from his coma and pieces together that Cal was responsible for the Dredd Robot, Goodman's death and the attempt on his life. He confronts Cal shortly after he instated his pet fish as the new Deputy Chief Judge, but is overpowered and sent for execution, only to be rescued by his former cadet Judge Giant.
Giant takes Dredd to a safe-house where he meets up with a group of Judge Tutors including Griffin, Pepper, Kelso, Schmaltz, Holbein and Clubman. Collectively they were planning to usurp Cal from his position. Dredd agrees to assist them, first storming a TV studio and sending a message out to the citizens to help in taking down Cal. Afterwards Dredd's group and the angry mob of MC-1 citizens storm the Grand Hall of Justice, but get as far as the doors before a large swarm of darkness covers the sky. Suddenly, massive reptilian aliens known as Kleggs begin descending from the sky en mass. The Kleggs slaughter much of the crowd and several of Dredd's Judges.
With his revolution in tatters Dredd goes into hiding as Cal looses his mind even more, instating the Kleggs as Judges and forcing the citizens to build a colossal wall around the city. At one stage, Cal decides to begin executing the citizens in alphabetical order. In order to stop this, Dredd assassinates Deputy Chief Judge Fish, causing Cal to loose heart. Cal promotes the Klegg leader Grampus to take the place of Fish before falling into a depression, which only deepens when nobody attends the funeral of Judge Fish. Grampus gathers a pack of Klegg Hounds to hunt down Dredd and his men, which leads the reptiles to their underground hideout. The unprepared Judges are massacred, and as Dredd and the few survivors flee in a road liner, Cal himself fires of a explosive sending the vehicle hurtling into the Underbelly. The combined efforts of the Klegg attack and the crash end up killing a majority of the Judges including Schmaltz, Clubman and Holbein. Stuck in the Underbelly, the surviving rebels (Consisting of Dredd, Giant, Griffin, Pepper and Kelso) encounter a hulking oaf named Fergee. After a savage beating from Dredd, Fergee surprisingly decides to help the Judges and leads them to the safety of his home.
While hiding out in Fergee's home, Dredd and the others deduce that Cal had ensured loyalty amongst the Judges through hypnosis, meanwhile Cal begins building large gas chambers, which he intended to use to poison the cities populace. Acting quickly, Dredd, Fergee and the others launch a final assault on Cal. They destroy his hypnosis tapes and begin shooting down the Klegg invaders. Cal flees to the peak of the Statue of Judgement and plans to activate the gas, only for Fergee to go out as a hero and toss both himself and Cal from the edge of the railing, causing them to hurtle down to their death. Afterwards a memorial statue is placed for Fergee and Griffin is instated as the new chief Judge.
- Dredd's face has never been shown. When he first took his helmet off in Prog 7 it was censored. Since then whenever he has taken off his helmet his face has been conveniently covered over. The only times his face has been shown was when he was either too young to have any distinguishing features or too scarred to recognise.
- It was originally intended in the earliest of strips that Dredd was non-white, however it was only artist Mike McMahon who followed up on this and the idea was dropped early on. The introduction of Judge Giant may have been inspired by this.