Happy 40th Birthday 2000AD! (The First Dredd)

It’s another huge milestone for 2000AD as today marks the 40th anniversary of the very first prog back in February 1977 (well, the cover date at any rate!). I’ve just covered Prog #153, and Prog #154 didn’t actually feature a Judge Dredd strip, so this seemed like a wonderful opportunity to cover a different story.

The Complete Case Files 01 includes “The First Dredd”, the originally developed episode that was never actually published. It’s a fun relic now, with many of the details of Dredd’s world not ending up carrying over to the series proper.

So, as Dredd didn’t actually appear in Prog #1 itself, this seemed like as good a time as any to have a quick look at what could have been the first episode!

Happy 40th Birthday 2000AD!

Case File

Judge Dredd deals with a bank raid in New Manhattan – handing out instant justice!

Ol’ Stoney Face

Dredd helpfully narrates his approach to his work here (“That’s my job… I’m a Judge!”) for anyone who happens to be passing by.

The Big Meg (and Beyond)

Dredd is on patrol in New Manhattan. The police are still in operation, but leave dealing with tough cases to the Judges. The city is apparently “crawling with crime”.

The Law

The Judges are separate from the police force, and have the ability to administer “instant justice” – even up to executions. They are all picked to be “tough but fair”. Stepping off the sidewalk is a crime, as is bribing a Judge.

Dredd rides a “Lawmaster 5,000 Bi-Mobile”.

Creeps

Dredd takes on a crew attempting to rob a bank who have killed six innocent bystanders, and then ends up shooting someone who steps onto the road, tries to bribe him and runs away.

Rap Sheet

Dredd arrests the bank heist crew and sentences them to death.

Resyk

None of the creeps make it out alive.

Verdict

This isn’t a story, so much as an explanatory prologue. Dredd actually talks aloud about his world and his role, which is fun to read. It’s fascinating to see what made it through to the series, and what didn’t. Dredd handing over to a police lieutenant looks so odd now, as does Dredd just lining up perps and shooting them.

These initial pages, published or not, lead directly to today – 40 years later. It’s hard not to be impressed with a core idea that has stayed with us so long.

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