Reason Writers Around Town: Peter Suderman on the Politics of Judge Dredd in The Washington Times


He is the law! He is a big-screen action hero! And, from time to time, he is also a cartoony political metaphor. He is Judge Dredd, the 25 year old dispenser of comic-book justice. With a new Dredd film scheduled to hit theaters this weekend, Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman looks at the character's politics and history in The Washington Times:

John Wagner, who co-created the character in 1977 and has penned many of his adventures since, has said that he created Dredd as a response to the era's rising British right wing. In the comics, Dredd plays judge, jury, and executioner as one of the Judges of Mega-City One, an overpopulated city surrounded by a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland.

"He seemed to capture the mood of the age," Mr. Wagner told the BBC in 2002. "He was a hero and a villain."

But despite the character's left-leaning political origins, many of the early stories revolved around common conservative worries. Street crime, density, and joblessness haunt those tales, as do fears of mass madness.

To a great extent, the early Dredd comics are as much about Mega-City One, the sprawling future city he helps police, as about the character of Dredd himself. Many of the earliest Dredd stories can be read as dark comic riffs on lawlessness, economic despair and urban decay — the same fears and anxieties that helped launch conservative politicians like Mrs. Thatcher and Ronald Reagan into prominence in the 1980s.

Read the whole thing.  

NEXT: Hey Urban Outfitters: Che Guevara Was a Murderer and Your Poster Is Not Cool

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  1. 1977, Dredd is over 35. And Dylan told me not to trust anyone over 30.

  2. Maybe it was covered already, but OT: Justice Dept faulted in gun-trafficking operation


    In a 471-page report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz referred over a dozen people for possible disciplinary action for their roles in Operation Fast and Furious. The report did not criticize Attorney General Eric Holder.

    The report found no evidence that Holder was informed about the operation before Jan. 31, 2011, or that the attorney general was told about the controversial gun-walking tactic employed by the department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

    This is my shocked face.

    1. So, just massive bureaucratic breakdown in communication and criminal incompetence within the organization…and Holder should not be fired for this because….

  3. The new movie is already getting really good reviews.

  4. Looks like he is having a grand ole time!

  5. “What these “Democrats” fail to remember that democracy, in its shining moment, elected a madman who built his popularity on a two planks, summary Justice and ruinous War. Democracy started the Atomic Wars but could neither end it or clean up after it was done. Democracy coddled the criminals because a democracy isn’t about who right but who is popular. Ask any addict, who is more popular then the guy selling drugs? Ask any streetwalker, who is more popular then the man who pays you? Ask anybody behind on their taxes, Who is more popular the the man who throws bombs at at the Revenuers?”

    -Chief Judge Hadrian Volt, Judge Dredd

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