Script: John Wagner
Art: Carlos Ezquerra, Kev Walker, Colin MacNeil
Release Date: 4th March, 2015
Judge Dredd has never really needed an origin story. Over the previous three decades worth of stories, John Wagner and other Dredd scribes had shown, not told, everything you needed to know about the lawman and his world.
Mega-City One was the dystopian future city literally built on top of the old America after the nuclear destruction of World War Three, ruled with an iron fist not by politicians and police, but the Justice Department, while Dredd himself was a clone of Judge Fargo, the original Father Of Justice himself.
All of this was illustrated and fleshed out as background to other stories, building up organically over the years. Sure, there was discrepancies over dates and events here and there, but readers knew the history.
Only it turns out, we didn’t know the half of it.
With Origins, Wagner finally got round to telling the full story, not just of Dredd himself, but of the entire secret history of Mega City One and how it came to be. Needless to say, it’s utterly essential reading.
When the Judges get information that Fargo, long thought dead, might still be alive and in the hands of a mutie gang out in the Cursed Earth wasteland, Dredd is despatched to discover the truth. Along the way, we at last get to see what really happened back before 2000 AD began it’s real-time documentation of Dredd’s world.
Split between the present day mission and Dredd’s monologue of the time of Fargo, Origins brilliantly tells two stories concurrently, each as fascinating and as unpredictable as the other.
Previously held facts are exposed as myths and flat-out lies, while the grim march to the all-out war that we know has such horrific consequences is brought to life in depressingly realistic terms.
Origins is a story of men and their decisions. Instead of serving the people they are supposed to protect , weak and petty individuals like Bad President Robert Booth and Justice Dept. Head Of Genetics Morton Judd use their power for their own ends to disastrous ends, in direct contrast to men like Fargo and his clone-son Dredd, men driven by the concepts of justice and honour.
It’s gripping stuff from start to finish and when the dust is all settled, we’re left with a greater understanding of Dredd and his world and maybe why it had to be that way. Of course, Wagner is far too smart to just settle for exploring the past, instead he uses this story to set up years of plot points to come, such as Dredd’s re-evaluating of the strict anti-mutant laws and also of the entire Justice Department itself.
There was only ever one artist who could be tasked to illustrate an epic like this and that’s Carlos Ezquerra. Dredd’s co-creator is on the very top of his game here, with every single page an absolute feast for the eyes. Whether on the post-apocalyptic horrors of the Cursed Earth or the actual apocalyptic events of WW3, you can tell that the great man is having an absolute blast bringing Wagner’s vision to life and it really is a joy to behold.
It says a lot that 30 years down the line, Dredd’s creators can still be cranking out work of this quality, but the pair make it look effortless.
Make no mistake, Origins is absolutely essential, not just for Dredd fans, but anyone who appreciates just how bloody magnificent comics can be.
Buy it. Now.
The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy