Dark Judges

From Academic Kids

The Dark Judges are recurring villains in the fictional Judge Dredd universe recounted in the UK comic 2000 AD. They are Judge Death, Judge Fire, Judge Fear and Judge Mortis. Later storylines added the "Sisters of Death" (Phobia and Nausea), to their ranks. Former Judge Kraken was also a Dark Judge for a brief time during the Necropolis story.


The Dark Judges were originally a group of lawkeepers from a parallel dimension. They were led by Judge Death, who had determined that all crime was committed by the living. Thus, by his logic, all life was a crime. Originally mortal, the four Judges encountered Phobia and Nausea (the Sisters of Death) in a cave. The Sisters were death cultists with supernatural powers, and the four Dark Judges became undead beings, subsequently murdering the entire population of their world.

Dimension-travelling visitors chanced upon the now 'Deadworld' and found the Dark Judges. After 'judging' (ie, killing) them and taking their dimension jumping warp devices, Judge Death travelled to Mega-City One in order to 'dispense justice'. Death was eventually defeated by the combined efforts of Judges Dredd and Anderson, his body having been destroyed, and his spirit form held inside Judge Anderson, herself encased in the miracle plastic Boing.

Having sensed Death's peril, his comrades Fear, Fire and Mortis crossed the dimension warp to rescue him. Released from imprisonment and with a new body created, the four Dark Judges continued their 'judgement' upon Mega-City One. Dredd and Anderson intervened, and pursued the Dark Judges back to Deadworld. There, the spirits of the Dark Judges' millions of victims flowed through Anderson and seemingly extinguished their spirits forever.

However, the Dark Judges were not destroyed but merely weakened, and four years later, Judge Anderson was duped into returning to Deadworld, where she was forced to resurrect them. Armed with teleporter technologies, the four returned to Mega-City One, leaving Anderson for dead. Anderson survived, however, and used the dimension warp technology against the Dark Judges, consigning them to limbo, the void between dimensions. This is where they were to remain for the next few years.

Following Judge Dredd's resignation and his replacement by the ex-Judda Kraken (recounted in the Judge Dredd stories Tale of The Dead Man and Countdown to Necropolis respectively), the sisters of Death - Phobia and Nausea - used their powers to influence Kraken and rescue the Dark Judges from Limbo. With the Mega-City One judge force under their control, the Dark Judges created Necropolis - the city of the dead, killing 60 million citizens. Judges Dredd, Anderson and Chief Judge McGruder, together with a handful of Cadet Judges, returned via The Undercity to defeat them - returning the Sisters of Death to Deadworld, imprisoning Fear, Fire and Mortis within secure containment, and executing Kraken, who had become a fifth Dark Judge. Judge Death eluded capture by hiding in the burial pits of the Cursed Earth.

However Death was eventually captured by Dredd with the aid of Batman (see Judgement on Gotham).

After numerous escapes, Death escaped into the Cursed Earth and remains at large.

Character Details

The Dark Judges are undead and, as such, cannot be conventionally killed. They are ghostly spirits that must first inhabit dead bodies in order to do physical harm. This begs the question of how the four of them might reincarnate at once, but that was answered by the episode in which the spirits of the Dark Judges possessed and tricked Judge Anderson into preparing bodies for them. Reincarnation involves obtaining a fresh, dead body, either by murder or chance. The judges then summon elaborate machinery that produce "dead fluids" that bring the body to "full ripeness," then the spirit inhabits and animates the body. The incarnate Dark Judges are all emaciated, zombie-like humanoids with sharp claws.

At this point, the Dark Judge dons a uniform, or "robes of office," which gives him his unique identity. It is rarely made clear how the uniforms are obtained. The first Batman crossover humorously treated this subject by showing the Scarecrow's henchman dress Death in biker garb. All the Dark Judges' uniforms are variants of the traditional judge uniform.

  • Judge Death appears in something close to a Judge's helmet, though its modified visor resembles an inverted picket fence. Many 2000 AD illustrations make use of the visor as a visual shorthand for Judge Death. His mouth is pulled into a toothsome rictus. On his right shoulder is a pterodactyl, as opposed to the Judges' eagles. His left shoulder pad and elbow pads are festooned with bones. His tunic is fastened with crude stitches rather than a zipper, and his badge and belt buckle are shaped like a human skulls with extended fangs, the latter with bat wings. Death's preferred attack is to reach directly into his victim's chest and squeeze the heart.
  • Judge Fear is an imposing figure with a black, iron helm obscuring his face. It is just as well since his primary attack is to open his faceplate before his victims, showing them the face of Fear and frightening them to death. He has an assortment of bear traps dangling from his belt and is known to throw them at his enemies in order to immobilize them. His belt also holds an enormous padlock which he uses to secure his victims' potential exit routes. He wears a thick robe with ornamental bear traps on the shoulders. His belt buckle is a shrunken head.
  • Judge Fire is immersed in flame, but otherwise his uniform resembles Death's. He has a human skull for a head and weilds a flame-spewing trident. As such he has the greatest kill capacity of his brethren.
  • Judge Mortis (from rigor mortis) is in a perpetual state of disintegration. His touch brings swift decay, and he is sometimes employed by Judge Death to prepare the Dark Judges' host bodies. His head is a horse skull and he has a short, bony tail. His uniform's right shoulder is a bird skeleton and his left shoulder is protected by a perforated mantle. Mortis' badge is a stylized horse skull with his name emblazoned in wood.

The undead incarnations of Nausea and Phobia have, as of 2005, only appeared as spirits, although they do appear in their mortal form in the Judge Death prequel story, Judge Death; Boyhood of a Superfiend.

  • Nausea is a haglike, decayed humanoid with an assortment of gory tentacles, claws and eyeballs on her right shoulder and elbows. Her left shoulder has two apparently live human heads on it. Her badge is a human skull, much like Death's.
  • Phobia looks much like her sister but has an extended proboscis and has live heads as earrings. Her right shoulder is covered by a large scorpion and her elbows and knees by spiders (although Carlos Ezquerra draws the latter with just six legs). Snakes wrap around her arms. Her left shoulder is a mass of worms, and her badge is a spider (eight legged).
  • Judge Kraken, while a Dark Judge, was appropriately decayed. He suffered the loss of his right hand by inadvertently trying to use another judge's lawgiver, thereby setting off its self-destruct mechanism. He wore the usual Judge's uniform, though it was cracked and deformed.

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