Earth is a dystopian wasteland, barren and destroyed by nuclear war and human greed. With the rise of mass automation and near-sentient robots, humans have been rendered almost completely useless, invested only in the latest outlandish fashions or lives of crime. Towering cities spread over multiple states eat up large swathes of the wasted earth, with millions living in these extensive urban developments. Welcome to Mega-City One.
First appearing in the pages of 2000 AD, this sprawling futuristic megalopolis is home to the Judges, brutal law enforcement officers who are not only judge but also jury and executioner. Among the Judges, one is legendary. He is the law and his name is Dredd.
You may have seen Judge Dredd on the shelves of your local comic shop or maybe you've seen Sylvester Stallone's unforgettable performance in the '90s cult flop, Judge Dredd. More likely, your first taste of Mega-City's most popular lawmaker was in the completely badass 2012 adaptation, Dredd. Whatever your entry point to the bleak and brilliant world of Mega-City One, you're about to get way more familiar with it!
Thanks to the announcement of a Judge Dredd TV show from 2000 AD's owners, Rebellion Developments, our fan brains are running wild trying to guess just what the new version of our much beloved metropolitan dystopia might cover. With 40 years of comic book canon spanning over 2000 issues, there's a smorgasbord of stories to pull from.
Knowing the property the way that they do, it's likely Rebellion will have some fun with it. They may even create something completely new. But if they decide to look to the comics for inspiration, here are a few classic Dredd stories that might just make their way to the small screen:
The Cursed Earth - Pat Mills, John Wagner, Jack Adrian, Mike McMahon, and Brian Bolland
In a post walking dead world, The Cursed Earth seems like the smart person's choice for a TV adaptation of Judge Dredd. An early entry in the Dredd canon, this iconic arc follows Judge Dredd on a mission to save Mega-City Two from a virus which turns the infected into a mindless, violent mob. A wild romp through the wild wastelands of the Cursed Earth that surrounds the sprawling Mega-Cities, this could be an exhilarating introduction to the world of Judge Dredd and 2000 AD. A harsh satirical look at conglomerate culture and consumerism that also happens to feature a cloned tyrannosaurus rex, The Cursed Earth would be a satisfyingly surreal starting point for Dredd's small screen debut.
America - John Wagner and Colin MacNeil
One of the most celebrated 2000 AD stories, John Wagner has said that it's his favorite and he's not alone. Among the most overtly political stories in the Judge Dredd canon, America would be a relevant and timely story that would also center the world of Mega-City One around a woman of color, which would make a radical statement. Following America Jara and her childhood friend Bennett Beeny, America tells the story of the two sides of Mega-City One itself. Bennett becomes a popular figure celebrated and beloved by Mega-City One, and America becomes a terrorist fighting against the fascist reign of the Judges. A modernized version of this intimate character focused take on the massive world of Judge Dredd could be the perfect entry point for new fans, without the tired tropes of an origin story.
The Dark Judges - John Wagner, Alan Grant, Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins, and Cliff Robinson
The one thing we do know for sure about the show is that it's called Judge Dredd: Mega-City One, so it's unlikely that it would focus solely on another Judge. But if the producers decided to bring in some antagonistic lawmen, then it's likely that they'd call upon Judge Death and the Dark Judges. Collecting the first few appearances of the Deadworld Judges, this story sees the entirety of Mega-City One at risk from the ultimate judgment: death. Taking from this collection would be another great chance for the show to bring in a female protagonist with the arc's hero, Judge Anderson. Though the show probably won't draw directly from The Dark Judges, the chances of seeing Judge Death and his cronies on your screens very soon seem pretty high.
From Oz to Necropolis - Alan Grant, John Wagner, Cliff Robinson, Garry Leach, Brendan McCarthy, Jim Baikie, Will Simpson, Steve Dillon, Barry Kitson, Jeff Anderson, John Higgins, John Ridgeway, and Carlos Ezquerra
This one's a long shot, but it would be an incredibly ambitious statement of intent from Rebellion. And in the televisual age of Game of Thrones and Preacher, it's not even as farfetched as it once might have seemed. Oz to Necropolis is an arc that ran through a collection of stories over many years and could be the perfect longform story for a truly iconic blockbuster TV show. Focusing on a Dredd who's broken by the system that he upholds, he finally abandons the Law and takes the "Long Walk to the Cursed Earth." But our titular anti-hero is forced to return when Mega-City One is changed forever by Judge Death. Without getting into spoiler territory, taking from this arc could be a landmark in the golden age of genre television for Rebellion, and aid them in their aim to make the most expensive British TV show of all time.
What are your favorite Judge Dredd stories? Which iconic characters do you want to see bought to your TV set? Or are you just desperate for Karl Urban to put the mask back on and return to Mega-City One? Jump in the comments and let us know!
Images: Rebellion Developments
Did Kevin Feige offer hope for an Avengers/X-Men team-up movie?