Posted November 11, 2012 by Emily King in Opinion

Is Judge Dredd about to come out as gay?

Judge Dredd - about to be outed as gay featured image
Judge Dredd - about to be outed as gay featured image

That was the question on 2000 AD fans’ lips when the comics publisher posted a rather suggestive image on both their Facebook and Twitter accounts at the end of October. The image was simply titled “Has someone finally melted Judge Dredd’s stony heart? Find out in January 2013…”

It’s hard to imagine that 2000 AD would be trying to follow in the wake of Marvel and DC’s activities of earlier this year – which saw Marvel’s Northstar finally getting hitched to his long term boyfriend, and DC’s outing of Alan Scott in the wake of the New 52 reshuffle. Even Archie Comics had its first gay character, Kevin Keller, marry the love of his life, Clay Walker, only a couple of months ago.

The responses from a lot of “fans” of the series and characters has been positive and in a lot of cases very, very negative. Marvel and DC also had the experience of One Million Moms – an American Christian organisation – trying to force their hand over their gay storylines, with a whole stint of their argument being based around the idea that it’s mainly children that read comics. I somehow doubt the same argument could ever be made for 2000 AD.

Those responding negatively to the Judge Dredd teaser seemed to think that 2000 AD had no right to make Dredd gay (what follows is a selection of the comments, there were 97 as of the 1 November):

Fan 1: “thats fucked up.. whats next? a gay series? i would buy just to burn..”

2000 AD: “whats next? a gay series?”

“You mean like long-running character Devlin Waugh, Earthlet?”

Fan 2: “So you panic from a single picture excerpt that is from a comic to be published in early 2013 and posted here with no explanation in ORDER to make you flip out? You, guys, are hillarious.

“Of course it’s not going to be what is shown here, man.”

Fan 3: “Hey, good move Tharg! While normal people will buy the prog and read it for kicks, just think of the extra sales to people who want to be outraged first before setting a pile of them alight!”

Fan 4:  “I have been reading 2000ad when Judge Dredd began his epic journey in the Cursed Earth. We don’t need this, it’s not necessary I could give a **** if no one else has the balls to say anything. 2000ad has ran for years without resorting to this.”

2000 AD: “Resorting to what, Earthlet?”

Fan 4: Why this? Dredds has never been interested in anyone. He only loves the law and Mega City One . You are are only doing this to be PC.”

2000 AD: Nothing of the sort, Earthlet! 2000 AD has always subverted and surprised everyone’s expectations. How do you know it’s Dredd, anyway?” (my emphasis)

As was discussed in episode 14 of the Nerds Assemble podcast, I believed it would be a bit of a cop-out to not have Dredd come out as gay or bisexual. Oh, it’s his clone – Rico. His evil clone. His very evil clone. That, sadly, could be the case if that last bit from 2000 AD is to be believed. And what would be the problem if it was Rico – well, it would be a bit of a missed opportunity from a character development angle for Judge Dredd, plus the subtext angle on what it would say about homosexuality.

And it’s not that gay characters can’t be evil – but there are better ways of going about portraying them and it doesn’t start with Rico.

I think one thing the “fan” responses to the image also highlighted was the idea that comics can’t be political or take a leaf from social issues. I am a firm believer that comics are a suitable place for social and political discourse – because it’s been going on for hundreds of years. Satirical cartoons and sketches have been in print far longer than just plain old comic books and comic books weren’t originally for kids.

Heck, I once saw a satirical manga piece – drawn back when Europe was expanding its links with Japan in the 1700s – and it had pictures of European men standing naked, except for elaborate hair pieces on their heads. The European men’s noses were huge and let’s just say that downstairs was, err, interesting to say the least.

Does it matter that Judge Dredd might be about to be come out of the closet? It’s not going to stop me from occasionally picking up 2000 AD and it’s not going to lead me to burn whole issues of the comic. 2000 AD has always been about showcasing some of the weirdest and out there storylines that people can dream-up, but I can’t help feeling that 2000 AD are just going to pull a bait and switch come the New Year.

Emily King

Games, film and comics lover, I'm helping out with comics coverage here & I'm behind the Nerds Assemble podcast.