Preview: ‘Judge Dredd Origins’ – Making A Classic Into An Essential

by Richard Bruton

The Essential Judge Dredd collection continues with a classic from the classic team of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra diving deep into the early days of Dredd, Mega-City One, and the Justice Department – Origins.

Origins tells the tale, through flashbacks, of how the Judges and the Justice Department came to power in MC-1. It is, as you might expect, rather an essential bit of Dredd.

In Origins, you’ll discover the history of the Judges, the Justice Department founder, Chief Judge Fargo, as well as featuring moments from Joe Dredd’s boyhood during the Third World War.

It’s a masterpiece by Wagner firmly delivering a history lesson of Dredd’s life, the Justice Department, and the world they exist in. And he does it by having the present-day Dredd venture forth into the Cursed Earth after evidence comes to light that Chief Judge Fargo, the very first Chief Judge, founder of the Justice Department, and clone father to Dredd and Rico, may well be alive out there somewhere, held hostage.

It’s a classic bit of Wagner-written Dredd, with the initial storyline, ‘The Connection, by Wagner and Kev Walker, serving as a perfect little Dredd procedural, all tight and tense, unfolding events so beautifully well, as Dredd uncovers the evidence that sets him off into Origins itself, complete with all that stunning Carlos Ezquerra artwork.

And as Dredd ventures into the Cursed Earth, we slowly go back to a time before all that we know, with Wagner threading Dredd’s memories and the time where Fargo took law enforcement to a different level, the creation of the Judges and the Mega-Cities, and the devastating world war that created the Cursed Earth at the hands of the last President of the United States; Robert L Booth.

Interestingly, reading it again in 2021, there’s a moment in here that’s just horribly close to home given the events of the January 2021 storming of the Capitol building in the USA. Again, just one of those chilling moments when you realise that speculative fiction at its best, as the best Dredd always has been, mirrors the now…

Anyway, Origins is one of the all-time great Dredd tales, and it’s all here, all done perfectly by John Wagner, undoubtedly the master storyteller of Dredd-lore, accompanied by Carlos Ezquerra, one of a handful of artists you could call members of the Dredd artist hall of fame.

Essential Judge Dredd – absolutely.


ESSENTIAL JUDGE DREDD – ORIGINS. Written by John Wagner, art by Carlos Ezquerra and Kev Walker, cover by Brian Bolland.

Published on 31 August by 2000 AD/Rebellion.

Contains the stories –

The Connection – John Wagner and Kev Walker, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse. (Originally published in 2000 AD Progs 1500-1504)

Origins – John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, letters by Annie Parkhouse. (Originally published in 2000 AD Progs 1505-1519, 1529-1535)

So… a little preview for you.

First, from ‘The Connection, setting it all up…

And now, Origins

%d bloggers like this: