by Kelly Kanayama
In Judge Dredd: Final Judgement #1, the crime is life – the sentence is death! Written by Arthur Wyatt and Alex de Campi, with art by Henry Flint, this comic (out now) brings classic Dredd villain Judge Death into 2000AD’s Dredd movie universe tie-in comics.
The Beat recently caught up with Arthur for a quick chat about dystopian wackiness and the fun of breaking metaphorical toys.
Kanayama: How does the movie-universe Judge Death differ from the classic depiction of the character?
Arthur Wyatt: For a movie version of Judge Death, just doing a straight retelling of the awesome yet slightly campy comics version where he’s an interdimensional undead villain wouldn’t really work, so we went for more of a sci-fi route. The city is suffering an energy crisis and choking on its own entropy, so there’s a tech-div project to try and solve that, and they end up getting access to a very different kind of “Dead World”.
Kanayama: So a realistic interdimensional undead villain.
Wyatt: More or less. Our Dark Judges start as discarnate spirits that end up possessing dead bodies fairly randomly at first, so our Death starts as a recently deceased schoolgirl. Dredd has to catch up with all this, but being from a gritty and grounded mostly-non supernatural universe, he hasn’t really dealt with anything like that before, so the story is him trying to figure out just what is going on, what the scale of the threat to the city is, what if anything he can do anything about it.
Kanayama: While Judge Death is always an exciting creepy ride through the Dreddverse, I’m curious as to why you wanted to bring him in now rather than doing a couple more classic characters first– like Judge Cal, for instance.
Wyatt: We felt like Judge Death was the perfect ending for this version of Dredd. We actually wanted to bring him in earlier, but when it looked like there might be a sequel to the Karl Urban Dredd, we had to wait. Of course, it was confirmed that a sequel wasn’t happening, but then the TV show [Mega-City One] was announced and when it started ramping up, it became clear we had access to all the toys. Also, working in the movie universe means we’re allowed to play with all these toys and break them, which you can’t really do in the main Judge Dredd universe.
Kanayama: Although this is the end of the Movie Dredd story (at least for now), will you be returning to that universe anytime soon?
Wyatt: After the movie Dredds, I’ve worked on a lot of comic book Dredds that go in the other direction in terms of seriousness and tone. They’re more wacky sorts of stories, the kind that start with Dredd saying, “It’s a banana,” whilst holding a banana and then fighting giant monkeys. There’s also an 80-year-old brutal crime boss who likes to steal people’s organs to make them pay for their debts, in case you’re worried I’m going too soft.
Kanayama: I’ve heard that you might be homaging some classic comic book storylines in your upcoming Dredd work…
Wyatt: That’s a superhero secret! [Stan Lee wink to nonexistent camera]