"I'm about to kill an important 2000 AD character, but I don't normally do that anymore."

If you were listening to this week's installment of 2000 AD's Thrill-Cast, then you heard John Wagner, the co-creator and still the primary architect of Judge Dredd, offer up that ominous sentence when he was asked about his plans for upcoming stories. The result was, of course, a cloud of... well, dread hanging over the fans of the future's toughest lawman.

Without any more information, we're left to wonder just who it might be that Wagner is planning to off, but since baseless speculation is and always has been our stock in trade here on the comics internet, that won't stop me from offering up a few guesses.

 

 

One surprisingly likely suspect --- and the one offered up in a press release from 2000 AD --- is Judge Dredd himself. There is, after all, no more popular character in the company's lineup, and since the stories have been advancing in "real time" since Dredd's introduction in 1977, the stone-faced lawman's age has been a major factor in more than a few recent stories.

On the other hand, Dredd's a clone with cybernetic eyes in a future where people commonly live to see 150 years --- assuming that they're not killed by Cursed Earth mutants, interdimensional Dark Judges or run-of-the-mill Mega-City crooks, I mean --- so there's no real storyline reason why he'd have to be put out to pasture right now.

On top of that, Dredd's status as 2000 AD's most popular character and the core of a franchise means that he's a pretty unlikely choice to kill off for good. It'd be like DC killing off Superman or Batman.

Hey, wait a second... Nah.

If, however, it's not Dredd himself, then that brings two more suspects to mind immediately: Judge Cassandra Anderson and Chief Judge Barbara Hershey. Both are long-running, major characters in the series, and while both have had popular runs of solo stories, one of the major truths of the Judge Dredd universe is that Chief Judge is not a job that has an especially lengthy life expectancy.

Of course, it might not be someone from Dredd at all. In the interview, Wagner mentions his previous attempt at killing off a major character, Strontium Dog's Johnny Alpha. It seems we'll just have to wait and see --- and try not to be overloaded by thrillpower in the meantime.