|First appearance||2000 AD #4 (first named in #61)|
The Cursed Earth is a part of the fictional universe from the Judge Dredd series that appears in the UK comic book 2000 AD. It is a radioactive desert which is considered unfit for habitation but is populated by mutants, who are not allowed to live in the cities.
Following the Atomic Wars of 2070 most of the United States became a radioactive wasteland. With only the three Mega-Cities surviving (on the East Coast, California, and Texas), the remainder of the country became known as the "Cursed Earth". Although considered unfit for human habitation, the Cursed Earth is populated by all manner of creatures, scraping a living in a tough environment. Since the Atomic Wars, genetic mutations appeared, but mutants are banned from living in the cities, so they are forced to make their homes in the Cursed Earth. The communities are mostly poor, rural groupings with no industry, often dominated by quasi-religious movements. In more extreme cases, these communities become cults organised well enough to threaten Mega-City One as a revenge for the way the city has treated these outcasts.
In the immediate aftermath of the war, the Cursed Earth was best described as Hell on Earth. Little grew and radiation pits were everywhere. Much of it was lawless with tribes of mutants and renegades. As such, from the war until about 2100, no one crossed the Cursed Earth by land.
After Dredd's mission to MC2, the Cursed Earth seems to have been opened up somewhat with settlement by MC1 colonists and some ground-based shipping (at least between Mega-City 1 and Texas City).
In the North there are still areas of forest and woods (the hunting party) and, as of Origins, the Cursed Earth is greener than it was in the past. Given the extended period of time since the war, the Cursed Earth is presumably in the midst of a (very) slow environmental recovery with a desert-like environment.
The Atomic War was described as the worst disaster since the death of the dinosaurs, and therefore it is likely that any proper recovery will take centuries and the return of bio-diversity, millennia if not millions of years.
In 2100, it possessed a "Death Belt" - a vast field of floating rocks and debris, inhabited by vicious flying rats. At some unknown point, the Death Belt was ended by transporting its central lodestone to Deadworld (Megazine #286). (This story was partly to explain why the Death Belt had ceased to be seen after the early Dredds, even the narrator said "What? You don't remember the Death Belt?")
Important Cursed Earth stories
The location first appeared (as an un-named region outside of the city) in a one-part story during the first year of 2000 AD and has since made many appearances, in 2000 AD, in the Judge Dredd Megazine, in annuals, in DC's comics, in IDW's comics and in both the 1995 Judge Dredd and the 2012 Dredd films.
The Cursed Earth
Following quickly on from the first appearance of the Cursed Earth, was one of the earliest mega-epics where Dredd had to cross the Cursed Earth to deliver an antidote to virus-stricken Mega-City Two.
Cadets are tested by being taken on a 'hotdog run' into the Cursed Earth to make or break them. This has featured in a number of stories, most explicitly in a story of the same name, where Dredd and Giant lead the cadets themselves.
The Dead Man
Judge Dredd takes the Long Walk into the Cursed Earth, where he loses his memory due to the trauma of a massive psychic attack which almost kills him.
Death of a Legend
The Hunting Party
Judges Dredd and DeMarco are sent to the Cursed Earth to investigate a Dune Shark attack on the city.
Dredd's journey in search of his origins requires a long journey out into the Cursed Earth visiting a number of important locations.
Tour of Duty
When a hostile administration enters into office, Dredd is exiled to the Cursed Earth indefinitely to keep him out of the way.