Fans of the Judge Dredd series known that “The Cursed Earth” was one of the great Dredd epics. Originally published in 1978, the story spanned over twenty strips and greatly expanded the world of Dredd and company. The thing is, unless you read it back in 1978 when it was originally being published, you have been reading an incomplete version. Parts of the story were “banned” by then-publisher IPC who decided they’d rather not reprint something that caused massive corporations to bring lawsuits against them. So what was behind the banning and why have reprints of “The Cursed Earth” been incomplete for years? Two words: Burger Wars.
“The Cursed Earth” sees Judge Dredd traveling across America to deliver a vaccine to Mega-City Two. Along the way he encounters mutants, dinosaurs, monsters, and all sorts of bad folks. None of these bizarre scenes offend corporate America though. It wasn’t until Dredd came across two warring factions that things hit the fan. You see, these groups were lead by Ronald McDonald and Burger King. Fast food had become religion, and people were willing to die for it. Doesn’t really seem like a stretch, actually.
Now, like a lot of Judge Dredd, this was clearly a satire. The target was America’s obsession with fast food. It was commentary on the mountains and mountains of the stuff we consume. In fact, Judge Dredd is able to escape the McDonald’s clan’s clutches because they are too fat and lazy from eating so many burgers, fries, and shakes. It’s funny, violent, and bizarre. In other words, it’s pitch perfect Judge Dredd.
As it turned out, McDonald’s and Burger King didn’t enjoy seeing their trademarked characters published without their permission. They probably weren’t too happy that the characters were portrayed as sadistic killing machines either. They certainly were not happy with the commentary that 2000 AD was making about their products and that they were inhabits of a placed called “The Cursed Earth.” So, lawsuits happened and the offending strips disappeared, never to be reprinted again. Until now.
Now, 2000 AD is reprinting the complete “The Cursed Earth” storyline for the first time in a glorious hardcover. This is all thanks to recent changes in the UK law governing parody. To give you a sense of just how badly IPC idd not want these panels to see the light of day, 2000 AD actually had to use the help of fans to find the art from the banned stories so they could reprint them. Thanks to those fans, you can pick up the full story and watch Ronald McDonald gleefully murder people. This features art from Judge Dredd heavyweights Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon, so it looks amazing, too.
“The Cursed Earth Uncensored” hits shelves July 14th, so devour a copy already.
7 of the Most WTF Moments in Comic Book History
Image: 2000 AD