Judge Dredd debuted in issue 2 (‘Prog 2’) of 2000 AD in March 1977 in a story titled ‘Judge Whitey’. Unlike the American import comics from DC and Marvel, which dominated a big segment of the UK market at the time, 2000 AD was an anthology issued on a weekly basis, with color covers and black and white interiors. Judge Dredd quickly became one of the more popular features in 2000 AD.
The Dredd adventures are set in the USA of 2099; most of the interior of the continent is a wasteland, the result of a series of nuclear and biochemical wars. Its inhabitants are mutants and outcasts. Judge Dredd is charged with maintaining law and order in the east coast megalopolis of Mega-City One (formerly New York City), Mega-City Two representing the west coast and the former L.A. The 400 million denizens of Mega-City One are crammed into enormous high-rise apartment complexes, while the undercity far below is a world of garbage, fetid darkness, and a prime hideout for criminals.
Starting in 2010, publisher Rebellion is releasing black and white, paperbound compilations of the early 2000 AD comics, including the Judge Dredd comics, in the format similar to that employed by DC with its ‘Showcase’ books, and Marvel with its ‘Marvel Essentials’ books.
Volume 2 features the two major story arcs for the ’78 and ’79 appearances of Judge Dredd.
‘The Cursed Earth’ (May – October 1978) sees Dredd, an alien named ‘Tweak’, and (British) punk ‘Spikes Harvey Rotten’ on a suicidal mission to cross the blasted interior of the USA in order to deliver a vaccine to a plague-ravaged Mega-City Two.
Fans of comic books from the 70s, as well as fans of the unique way in which the British interpret the landscape of American popular culture, will want to take a look at the 'Judge Dredd Case Files' compilations.