“I am the Law!” is the common catchphrase of popular comic book character Judge Dredd.
Making his debut in 1977, Judge Dredd has been one of Britain’s premier comic book characters, spawning various different comic books and two Hollywood movies, one of which starred Sylvester Stallone.
Judge Dredd tells the tale of a dystopian future where the crime rate is too high to be counteracted by a traditional legal system; instead, officers known as judges wield the power of judge, jury and executioner in a never-ending war on crime. Known for his trademark unforgiving black and white personality on the law, Judge Dredd has become an increasingly popular character outside of Britain, with his own American comic series produced by IDW publishing.
The character has maintained a massive cult following, with thousands of readers following his exploits in the popular comic magazine “2000 A.D.”
However, fans are up in arms over the upcoming story arc that supposedly depicts Judge Dredd in a homosexual relationship.
In an excerpt from a panel in the upcoming comic magazine 2000 A.D., a character resembling Dredd says, “I guess, somehow, I’d always known I was gay. I was just too scared to admit it.” The panel also depicts the character kissing another man in a homosexual nightclub. Dredd, often depicted as a tough-as-nails, macho lawman, has polarized fans on the supposedly new direction the character is being taken.
Longtime fans of the book have begun to petitions against it and are claiming to burn copies of the issue upon release. However, writer Rob Williams explains the issue contains a twist, and responded to fan outcry saying, “Sure, Dredd could be gay… [But his] feelings are so deeply hidden, he is extremely unlikely to ever let them show.”
While no one can be sure what the outcome of the issue will be, Rob Williams assures fans it will be an enjoyable issue.
However, the initial reaction to the depiction raises questions about consumers and whether they are ready to embrace homosexual depictions of supposedly straight characters.
While homosexual characters have become increasingly prevalent within recent years, such as Batwoman from DC comics and Kevin Keller from Archie Comics, the fan reaction to the depiction of Dredd shows that there is still a stigma among homosexual characters.
Overall, a character in any medium, whether it’s comics, movies or television, is liked and enjoyed for their qualities and heroism and not for their sexual orientation. As companies continue to create more homosexually oriented characters, I hope that consumers can become more welcoming and accepting to the concept, than reacting in the way to the depiction of Judge Dredd.