Judge Lopez

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Judge Lopez
Publication information
Publisher IPC Media (Fleetway) to 1999, thereafter Rebellion Developments
First appearance 2000 AD #162 (1980)
Created by John Wagner
Brian Bolland
In-story information
Team affiliations Mega-City One Justice Department

Judge Lopez is a character in the epic Judge Dredd story, The Judge Child, which originally appeared in the British science fiction anthology comic 2000 AD issues 156–181, in 1980.

Publication history[edit]

The character of Lopez was created by writer John Wagner under the pseudonym John Howard, and was first drawn by Brian Bolland. He was also drawn by Ron Smith and Mike McMahon, albeit in the latter's case in just one frame when he appears on a monitor screen. Later McMahon included Lopez along with the other Judges on the cover of the first volume of a three-volume reprint of the Judge Child story for Titan Books.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Previously unseen in the comic, Lopez was assigned to assist Dredd along with Judge Hershey and pilot Judge Larter in his quest for the mysterious Judge Child. However Dredd takes an irrational dislike to Lopez for no other reason than the fact that he has a moustache. Recording entries in his log, Dredd reveals himself to be petty-minded regarding the presence of facial hair on the face of an officer of the law, contrasting being a Judge with being in a beauty contest. Claiming that Lopez is "proving difficult re moutache", Dredd's reaction is to deny him involvement in the team's investigations on the planets they visit, leaving him aboard the craft to carry out menial tasks the robots would usually perform. Hershey advises Lopez to shave off his moustache to prevent further discrimination, but Lopez naively asserts that since he is not breaking any regulations Dredd has no valid reason to single him out.

The conflict between the two Judges reaches critical point when Dredd has Lopez strapped down and makes him take a dangerous hallucinogenic drug called Oracle Spice in the name of the mission. The drug will enable the taker to learn the location of the Judge Child. Dredd refuses to take the drug itself, claiming that Lopez's personality profile shows him to be "the most unstable member of the crew - the most receptive to information from the oracle spice". A single drop has an instant effect causing Lopez's vision to be twisted seeing the other Judge's faces stretched like rubber, a moment which was also captured memorably on the front cover of 2000AD issue 172. Lopez's hallucinations include seeing his own coffin being ejected from the space-ship and himself being devoured by a gigantic toad. He also sees a moustached toad whose back is covered with gravestones which informs him that payment for the information he seeks will be Lopez's own life. Later Lopez does indeed die, prompting Hershey to cry while Dredd coldly remarks "he knew the risks and he accepted them. Try to follow his example, Hershey".

When the Judge Child proves to be corrupt and cruel rather than the supposed saviour of Mega-City One, Dredd's quest ends in failure, and Lopez's sacrifice is proved therefore to have been vain.

When his body is committed to space, Dredd writes in his log "Every Judge must be prepared to give his life for the city. When his moment came, Lopez was not found wanting. He will be remembered". Judge Lopez gave his life to a hypocritical and unsympathetic system of rule and despite Dredd's comments he has never been remembered by either the Judges or the citizens of Mega-City One for whom he gave his life. Only Dredd himself seems to have reflected on the sacrifice later: In a story published in issue 1280 (in 2002), it was revealed that Dredd kept Lopez's badge to remind him of his responsibility for Lopez's death, and that Dredd regrets not taking the fatal Oracle Spice himself.