The Judge Child

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"The Judge Child"
Judge Child.jpg
Interior artwork from 2000 AD prog. 181 (Oct 11 1980). Art by Ron Smith.
Publisher IPC Magazines Ltd
Publication date 15 March – 11 October, 1980
Title(s) 2000 AD progs 156-181
Creative team
Writer(s) John Wagner, Alan Grant
Artist(s) Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland and Ron Smith
Editor(s) Tharg (Steve MacManus)
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 04 ISBN 1-904265-90-1

The Judge Child was an extended storyline in the comic strip Judge Dredd that ran in issues 156-181 of British magazine 2000 AD, in 1980. It introduced a character with the same name. Written by John Wagner and drawn by Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland and Ron Smith, the story also introduced the popular villain "Mean Machine" Angel and the future chief judge Judge Hershey, as well as drastically expanding the scope of the Judge Dredd universe. Consequences of the Judge Child story affected a number of plotlines for the next eighteen years, as well as leading to a notable sequel, City of the Damned.[1] The story is also notable as introducing Alan Grant as Wagner's long-term co-writer of the series (beginning in the final episodes set on Xanadu).


A dying member of Psi Division has a precognitive vision that Mega-City One will be destroyed unless the Judges can find the "Judge Child", a boy called Owen Krysler with extreme telepathic and precognitive powers. He also has a birthmark on his head shaped like the Judges' Eagle. Krysler is destined to rule Mega-City One in its direst hour. Dredd is sent after the boy and tracks him across the Cursed Earth to Texas City where the Judge Child falls into the hands of the Angel Gang who escape from Earth. Dredd uses the ship Justice 1 to pursue the gang and the Child across a number of star systems and through various strange encounters with alien worlds.

Dredd becomes convinced that only by using Oracle Spice will he be able to find the Child, and after further dangerous adventures he gains this on the planet Necros. Oracle Spice gives precognitive powers to whoever takes it (similar to the spice from the Dune saga), but is very dangerous to the inexperienced user. Dredd orders a member of the Justice One crew, Judge Lopez, to take the Oracle Spice. This kills Lopez, but not before he reveals that the location of the Judge Child is known by the 'Jigsaw Man,' whom Dredd traces to the planet Ab. The 'Jigsaw Man' is a human called Prosser who had been the pilot of a spaceship hijacked by the Angel Gang, who are heading to the free robot planet of Xanadu. Prosser's nickname stems from the fact he is a victim of the alien wasting disease known as "Jigsaw Disease", which causes the victims to vanish piece by random piece. Just before he dies he tells Dredd that he believes the Judge Child is evil, because it was the Judge Child who caused him to catch the disease in the first place, apparently intentionally.

Dredd begins to doubt the mission but continues to Xanadu where he confronts and kills most of the Angel Gang, who had also begun to suspect the boy had been manipulating them. However the last of the Angel Gang is killed by the Judge Child himself. Finally having hold of the Judge Child, Dredd looks into his eyes and sees that he is evil. Believing that the ruler of his city has to be pure and uncorrupted, and that Owen Krysler is unfit to rule, Dredd abandons him on the planet and returns home.


For deliberately failing in his mission Dredd himself had to be judged, in the story's epilogue Block War in prog 182. This story introduced another major character, Judge McGruder, who thought that Dredd had exceeded his authority.

In a sequel called Destiny's Angels,[2] the Judge Child was executed for attempting to assassinate Dredd in revenge for depriving him of the opportunity to rule Mega-City One. In McGruder's eyes this vindicated Dredd's earlier judgement of him, and she authorised the execution herself.

Owen Krysler was reincarnated in City of the Damned,[3] this time as a deformed but much more powerful telepath called The Mutant.

The Council of Five deliberates on Dredd's decision in Block War. McGruder is second from left. (Art by Brian Bolland.)

In other media[edit]

A brief visual reference to the Judge Child is made in the 2012 film Dredd. During a shootout outside a movie theater, a poster on the wall advertises a film called Krysler's Mark, featuring a young boy as the central character.


  1. ^ 2000 AD progs 393-406
  2. ^ 2000 AD progs 281-288
  3. ^ 2000 AD progs 393-406

External links[edit]

Preceded by
The Day the Law Died!
Major Judge Dredd stories
Succeeded by
Block Mania