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Judge Dredd is the law, but is he prepared to consider that the law could be flawed?

The current storyline in 2000 AD asks if Mega-City One's lawman can face his own biases

Judge Dredd: A Better World
Image credit: Henry Flint/Rebellion

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For decades, Judge Dredd has not just upheld the law — he’s literally personified it not only for citizens of the fictional Mega-City One he operates in, but for many in the real world, as well. But what happens when he’s faced with the possibility that there’s another option to making the city a safer, better place for everyone in it? That’s the question at the center of ‘A Better World,’ a storyline running in British anthology comic 2000 AD Progs 2364 through March’s 2372… and it’s one that the story’s authors have given a lot of thought to.

"I don’t think Dredd’s even remotely close to thinking that the Judges and their system are a problem. He’s The Law. He is a Judge,” Rob Williams, who co-writes the storyline, told Popverse earlier this year. But that doesn’t mean that he’s unwilling to consider alternatives to what he’s been doing for the past few decades, the writer argued.

“He’s on the streets every day, fighting a war on the citizens. Decades ago he’d not have questioned that. Now, when a smart Judge like Maitland shows him that maybe increasing spending on social programs and education brings crime down - he’s willing to listen. Dredd wants to stop crime in his city. If this does that, maybe it’s worth a try? Maybe it saves Judges’ lives?”

Williams’ collaborator on the storyline, Arthur Wyatt, agreed. “He is the law… but he’s not lacking in pragmatism. If someone he trusts and who has demonstrated competence in the past is pushing a way of changing things that seems to work, he’s going to consider it, at least. He’s not a theorist or a deep thinker but if something works he’s not going to crush that out of hand. And Maitland herself is somewhat Dredd-like and pragmatic - she works in a different field, but if she sees something that works she’s going to push forwards with it.”

Judge Maitland — a supporting character in the Dredd universe for more than a decade, co-created by Marvel writer Al Ewing during his time as a Dredd writer — is central to the origin of the current storyline, the two writers said.

“When Arthur suggested we first write a Maitland story together, I think a Defund The Police theme and storyline came up pretty quickly as an idea. It just seemed to make a lot of sense for the character,” Williams explained. “Maitland’s very driven, will absolutely try and do what she sees is right even if it threatens the status quo. And that all offers some delicious dramatic possibilities for a Dredd story that has something to say about where we are in the word right now, with the rise of autocratic governments across the world. Judges vs Judges. A schism. And Dredd in the middle having to chose which side he’s on.”

Which side will he choose? The answer can be found in ‘A Better World,’ beginning 2000 AD Progs 2364, available now via the 2000 AD webstore. The full interview with Rob Williams and Arthur Wyatt can be read here.

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