In Dredd’s long and illustrious career we’ve seen many a female Judge stepping up to the plate, from Anderson to McGruder, but the iconic British strip has never been written by a woman. Until now.
2000 AD, a sci-fi anthology that has run continuously since 1977, has enjoyed a reputation for creating fantastic women characters (Halo Jones!) in the various strips that focus on personality first, and gender last. Judge Anderson is perhaps the most well known example, and her portrayal in the 2012 film Dredd by Olivia Thirlby cemented that wonderfully by showing her as Dredd’s equal in every respect – including costume. In fact that very under-appreciated film is one of the strongest comic book movies of all time in terms of gender politics, carried out in a very “no big deal” manner.
It’s little wonder then that women make up a significant sector of the 2000 AD readership, and yet despite both the wealth of women characters in the book, and the number of women creators in the UK, it’s also long held a reputation as being a boys club when it comes to writers and artists.
You can imagine my delight then in our roundtable review of Prog 1824 last month when I saw Emma Beeby’s name attached to a new strip, Survival Geeks. I first came across Beeby a couple of years ago at Glasgow Comic Con, and she is perhaps best known for her Doctor Who audio stories along with her co-writer both there and at 2000 AD, Gordon Rennie. Rennie of course has been writing great stories at 2000 AD for years, and is thrilled to be working with Beeby.
Not only is this the first time Judge Dredd has been written by a woman, but Suicide Watch also sees the introduction of the strips first ever Muslim Mega-City One Judge, Judge Hamida. It’s really refreshing to see a publisher stepping up to the plate in terms of diversity both on the page and behind it, and with a world of solid and well-rendered characters at 2000 AD, I hope it leads to the progs being read by an even wider audience.
As with all Judge Dredd strips, Suicide Watch is completely readable to newcomers while containing elements of previous storylines. The city is decimated since the Day of Chaos events with 87% of the population wiped out, and Suicide Watch looks at the psychological damage to the survivors as suicide cults become ever more popular in the desperate slums.
Something worse though is hunting in the shadows, something that Dredd can’t quite remember… Psi-Judge Hamida is on the case!
Suicide Watch will be told in three episodes, with the first appearing in Prog 1826 this very week.
Judge Dredd: Suicide Watch (Prog 1826-1828)
Writer: Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby
Artist: Paul Davidson
Colourist: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse
Editor: Tharg the Mighty, Matt Smith
Publisher: 2000 AD