The Cursed Earth (Judge Dredd story)

"The Cursed Earth" is the second extended storyline of the British science fictional comics character Judge Dredd. It appeared in 2000 AD, and it was the first Judge Dredd storyline to exceed twenty episodes. Written mostly by Pat Mills, the story arc added many core elements to the backstory of the world of Mega-City One, Judge Dredd's city.

"The Cursed Earth"
Judge Dredd Cursed Earth.jpg
Cover of Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth  (2003), trade paperback collected edition
PublisherIPC Magazines
Publication dateMay – October 1978
Title(s)2000 AD #61-85
Main character(s)Judge Dredd
Creative team
Writer(s)Pat Mills
John Wagner
Jack Adrian
Artist(s)Mike McMahon
Brian Bolland
Letterer(s)Tom Frame
Editor(s)Tharg (Kelvin Gosnell and Steve MacManus)
The Cursed EarthISBN 1-84023-459-8
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 02ISBN 1-904265-83-9

Publication historyEdit

The storyline ran from 2000 AD #61 to 85 (May to October 1978), and according to Kevin O'Neill was inspired by Roger Zelazny's novel Damnation Alley.[1]


In 2100 Mega-City Two, on the West coast of North America, becomes infected with a virus called 2 T (fru) T (a wordplay on tutti frutti) that makes its victims into a violent mob. Scientists in Mega-City One on the East coast have been able to make an antidote, but it is impossible to safely land at the airports in Mega-City Two. The only option is to send a land expedition of Judges in a tank across the Cursed Earth, a radioactive wasteland that covers most of the former US. Judge Dredd is assigned to lead the mission and en route they encounter many perils including a cloned Tyrannosaurus called Satanus, and President Robert L. Booth, the last president of the United States.


The Cursed Earth caused a lawsuit involving the publishers of 2000 AD, McDonald's, Burger King, and the Jolly Green Giant. Four episodes in the series, written by John Wagner and Jack Adrian, featured trade marked characters used without permission.[2] One storyline depicted wars between rival gangs, headed by the Burger King and Ronald McDonald – including scenes of Ronald executing a gang member who spilled a milkshake. The owners of these characters objected to the use of their trademarks and sued. Publishers IPC settled out of court, publishing a half-page retraction and agreeing never to reprint the offending episodes.[3]

In 2014 the law was changed to implement a European directive on copyright law allowing the use of copyright-protected characters for parody.[4][5] As a result, Rebellion Developments announced in 2015 that it would re-publish the suppressed episodes for the first time in a book to be published in July 2016.[6]

Collected editionsEdit

The series has been reprinted in many trade paperbacks.[7] However, due to the lawsuit, these omitted the "Burger Wars" (episodes 11-12) and "Soul Food" (episodes 17-18) from the full 25-episode run until 2016. In 2016, the complete version with the reinstated episodes was published by Rebellion as "The Cursed Earth Uncensored".

Reprints include:


The K2001 Landraider and Killdozer two part vehicle used by Judge Dredd and his team was based on the K-2001 Raider Command Matchbox toy from the Adventure 2000 range.[8] When the Cursed Earth story began, the Matchbox toy was offered as a competition prize in the comic.

Other storyEdit

Another Judge Dredd story also called The Cursed Earth appeared in The Daily Star between 4 February and 4 May 1988. It had an entirely different plot, and featured the return of Henry Ford, a supporting character who had first appeared in The Black Plague in 2000 AD issues 140–143 (1979).


  1. ^ Kevin O’Neill interview, Death Ray #17, February/March 2009
  2. ^ 2000 AD #71-72 and 77-78
  3. ^ Jarman, Colin M.; Acton, Peter (1995). Judge Dredd: The Mega-History. Lennard Publishing. pp. 85–86. ISBN 1-85291-128-X.
  4. ^ "Parody copyright laws set to come into effect", BBC, 20 October 2014 (retrieved 2 November 2015)
  5. ^ Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014, at
  6. ^ "Judge Dredd comic book story showing him being force-fed fast food to be re-printed for first time in decades", The Independent, 1 November 2015
  7. ^ 2000 AD's reprint information
  8. ^ 2 Warps to Neptune


External linksEdit

Preceded by
The Robot Wars
Major Judge Dredd stories
Succeeded by
The Day the Law Died!