“Dredd 3D” hits theaters this weekend, bringing beloved British comics character Judge Dredd back to the big screen for an ultra-violent, action-packed adventure amid the post-apocalyptic urban chaos of Mega-City One.
Already earning praise from critics, “Dredd 3D” finally gives the eternally-frowning lawman the adaptation he deserves, and is likely to make more than a few audience members head to the comics shop to find out more about the character. Earlier this week, I gave you a brief introduction to the character and the world he inhabits.
Now that you’ve got the basics, here are 25 random facts about Judge Dredd that provide a little taste of the character’s rich history dating back to his first introduction in a February 1977 issue of the 2000 A.D. comics anthology.
1. His first name is Joseph.
2. Joseph Dredd has a brother named Rico who graduated ahead of him in the Academy of Law, only to become a criminal shortly after becoming a Judge. Joseph was forced to arrest him.
3. Joseph Dredd (and his brother, Rico) are both clones of the first Chief Judge of Mega-City One.
4. The name “Dredd” was chosen for Joseph and Rico Dredd by the scientist who cloned them. The name was intended to scare the residents of Mega-City One into obeying the law.
5. The character’s look was originally inspired by David Carradine’s character in the ultraviolent 1975 movie “Death Race 2000.”
6. Despite being the most popular character in the long-running 2000 A.D. science-fiction comics anthology, Judge Dredd didn’t make his debut until the second issue of the series due to delays in finding an artist for the strip.
7. Popular comic writers Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison, and Mark Millar have all written Judge Dredd stories for issues of 2000 A.D. anthology.
8. Judge Dredd’s full face in the current timeline of the comics has never been seen, though we’ve seen his face in flashbacks to his younger years.
9. Judge Dredd’s racial background also remains a mystery — so much so that certain artists drew him as an African-American character, while others drew him as a Caucasian. Since the series is printed in black and white, it never became an issue.
10. In the Judge Dredd comics, time passes at the same rate as the real world, with a year of comics matching up with a year in Dredd’s life. In the comics, Dredd is now over 70 years old.
11. The 1987 album “Among the Living” by heavy metal band Anthrax includes a song titled “I Am The Law,” which is based on Judge Dredd. One version of the album actually contains a picture of the band dressed as Judges.
12. Joseph Dredd first drew the attention of Mega-City One’s Justice Department when he was a cadet and assisted in the department’s assault on the White House and removal of then-President Robert Linus Booth.
13. Judge Dredd is known for his strict adherence to the law of Mega-City One, but he has resigned his post on several occasions when presented with perceived flaws in the Justice Department’s policy.
14. 2000 A.D. editor Pat Mills first conceived of the name “Judge Dread” as a character in an aborted horror comic, but later recycled the name — with a slightly different spelling — for John Wagner’s story about an ultra-violent police officer.
15. The 1991 miniseries Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgment on Gotham is the first of four crossover stories featuring Batman and Judge Dredd, and has the two characters jumping between Gotham and Mega-City One in order to take down criminals from both of their dimensions.
16. In addition to teaming up with Batman, Judge Dredd also battled the xenomorphs from the “Alien” movies and a Predator alien (from the “Predator” franchise) in separate miniseries.
17. In the 1986 story arc “Democracy,” Judge Dredd was tasked with disrupting a pro-democracy movement in Mega-City One that opposes the rule of the Judges, and his underhanded methods of sabotaging the movement serve as a reminder why he may be one of the most popular comics characters, but he isn’t always the most likable.
18. Judge Dredd’s gun is called the “Lawgiver” and can fire multiple types of ammunition, and is DNA-coded to only work in Dredd’s hand. If anyone else tries to use it, the gun explodes.
19. In addition to his regular adventures in 2000 A.D., Judge Dredd’s popularity also led to the publication of Judge Dredd Megazine, another sci-fi anthology featuring comics and text-based articles.
20. In a 2008 story arc, Judge Dredd was diagnosed with cancer of the duodenum, though the cancer was declared benign at the time.
21. “Shaun of the Dead” actor Simon Pegg is a big fan of Judge Dredd, and images from the 2000 A.D. series can be seen in many of the sets from his television series “Spaced.”
22. After several years patrolling the streets, Judge Dredd turned down the opportunity to become Chief Judge in an early story arc of the series, deciding that the streets were where he could best serve the city.
23. When we first meet Joseph Dredd in 2000 A.D., he lives in the “Rowdy Yates Block” of Mega-City One. All of the city’s massive blocks are named after famous pop-culture personalities, and Rowdy Yates was a character played by Clint Eastwood in the television series “Rawhide.” Eastwood’s character in the “Dirty Harry” movie franchise was one of the major inspirations for Judge Dredd.
24. Judge Dredd has saved both Mega-City One and the planet as a whole from destruction on several occasions, including an attack on Mega-City One by its Russian counterpart.
25. Judge Dredd has battled a darker, alternate-dimension version of himself who goes by the name of Judge Death on several occasions. The villain comes from a world wherein the Judges deemed life a crime, and seek to establish law by killing all living people.
“Dredd 3D” arrives in theaters September 21.