The Pit (Judge Dredd story)

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"The Pit"
PublisherFleetway Publications
Publication date15 December, 1995 – 5 July, 1996
Title(s)2000 AD progs 970–999
Creative team
Writer(s)John Wagner
Artist(s)Carlos Ezquerra; Colin MacNeil; Lee Sullivan; Alex Ronald
Colourist(s)Alan Craddock; Mike Hadley
Editor(s)Tharg (John Tomlinson and David Bishop)
The PitISBN 0-600-59433-5
The PitISBN 1-905437-84-6
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 24ISBN 978-1-78108-339-0
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 25ISBN 978-1-78108-331-4

"The Pit" is a Judge Dredd story which appeared in British comic 2000 AD in 19951996 (issues 970–999). With 30 episodes, it had the greatest number of episodes of any single Judge Dredd story until "The Doomsday Scenario" in 1999 (although "Oz" had a higher page count, at 199 pages). It introduced the supporting characters of Galen DeMarco, Judge Guthrie and Judge Buell. It tells of Judge Dredd's temporary assignment as the sector chief of Sector 301.


By the year 2117 Mega-City One's Sector 301, disparagingly nicknamed "The Pit," is the most crime-ridden and corrupt sector in the future city. Each city sector has its own sector house of street judges, and the judges in Sector 301 are the worst, as the sector has been used as a dumping ground for every inadequate judge who, but for manpower shortages, would normally have been dismissed from the force. Corruption and incompetence at 301 are rife, and when judges are suspected of complicity in the murder of Sector Chief Rohan, Judge Dredd is appointed sector chief in her place, with instructions to investigate the murder and also to whip the Pit's judges into shape.

Essentially a desk assignment, sector chief is not Dredd's chosen role, and he resents the paperwork and isolation from daily law enforcement. (It is for this reason that Dredd, in an earlier story, turned down the opportunity to become chief judge of the whole city.) However Dredd diligently sets about his task, and sets up a task force of judges outside the SJS (the Special Judicial Squad, who normally deal with internal affairs), since even the local SJS judges are not above suspicion.

Dredd supplements the task force with judges from outside The Pit, established characters Judge Giant and Judge Castillo, but their role in the story is less than that of the new characters. Dredd initially appoints Judge DeMarco to lead the task force, as she is the most capable judge in the sector. However he later has to suspend her when Castillo discovers that DeMarco is having an illicit affair with another judge, Judge Warren, in contravention of regulations. DeMarco redeems herself when she saves Castillo from a gang of thugs (even though this allowed Castillo to discover her affair with Warren), but Warren is suspended, having failed to intervene because it would have exposed them. He loses his temper and assaults Dredd, who immediately places him under arrest. Dredd appoints Judge Buell to take over command of the task force.

From the beginning of the corruption investigation, Dredd is greatly assisted by information provided by a renegade undercover judge, Judge Guthrie, who has apparently gone rogue after killing three judges and becoming a fugitive. Guthrie's evidence leads to the discovery that many of Sector 301's judges are indeed corrupt, and some are even in the pay of the "Frendz Mob," a mafia-style organised crime syndicate. Dredd and his task force eventually arrest twenty-four judges for various crimes, and two more are killed by Dredd and Guthrie while resisting arrest. A third judge is killed in action before his crimes are discovered. A further two judges – the local head and deputy head of the sector's SJS – are also killed by or on the orders of the Frendz Mob, to conceal the Mob's infiltration of the sector house.

In spite of that setback, however, Dredd's mission is otherwise a success, as the sector house has been purged of corruption. Judge Guthrie is reinstated and reassigned to uniform duties, after satisfying Dredd that he is innocent (the judges he killed having been trying to murder him at the behest of the Frendz). DeMarco is also reinstated. Buell and his partner Judge Garcia are promoted to become, respectively, the new head and deputy head of SJS at 301, after Castillo declines the promotion.

Undeterred by the lack of evidence against the Frendz Mob, Dredd initiates a massive campaign of harassment against them, raiding all of their known buildings and vigorously punishing every crime detected, however minor. Eventually this goads the local Frendz boss into a reprisal action, and he instigates a sector-wide riot, which escalates into a full-scale gang war against the judges. Reinforced by new graduates from the Academy of Law, the beleaguered judges fight back, with Dredd himself in the heart of the conflict. During the chaos, Warren escapes from custody and abducts DeMarco, who is forced to kill him in self-defence. Eventually the judges prevail and regain control of the streets. The local Frendz boss still can not be tied to the recent violence, but when over three hundred unpaid parking tickets come to light he is sentenced to thirty days per ticket: a total sentence of over twenty-five years (in much the same way that Al Capone was brought to justice for tax evasion in 1931).

Keen to return to his regular duties, Dredd resigns his commission and hands over the sector house to his successor, Judge Uris.

Publication history[edit]

All episodes written by John Wagner.

  • The Pit, in 2000 AD #970–999 (1995–1996):
    • "The Pit," art by Carlos Ezquerra, Colin MacNeil and Lee Sullivan, in #970–983
    • "True Grot," art by Alex Ronald, in #984–986
    • "Unjudicial Liaisons," art by Carlos Ezquerra, in #987–989
    • "Last Rites," art by Lee Sullivan, in #990
    • "Declaration of War," art by Lee Sullivan, in #991
    • "Bongo War," art by Lee Sullivan, Alex Ronald and Carlos Ezquerra, in #992–999

Collected editions[edit]

It has been collected twice as a trade paperback:

The first 14 episodes were collected in Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 24 (Rebellion, 2015, ISBN 978-1-78108-339-0 ). Episodes 15 to 30 were in Case Files 25 (Rebellion, 2015, ISBN 978-1-78108-331-4 ).

The story was also collected in issue 32 of Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection in 2016.

Related stories[edit]


  • "Bad Frendz" (2000 AD progs 955–959, 1995) introduced the Frendz Mob and its overall leader, Nero Narcos. As well as figuring prominently in "The Pit," the Frendz Mob were also Dredd's main opponents in the 1999 epic "The Doomsday Scenario," when they started the Second Robot War.
  • "The Cal Files" (progs 959–963, 1995) was published shortly before "The Pit," and depicted Chief Judge Volt ordering Dredd to assume command of Sector 301. "The Pit" began with Dredd already in the sector house.


"The Pit" was followed by two thematic sequels, which both portrayed the inner workings of an average sector house.

  • In "Beyond the Call of Duty" (progs 1101–1110, 1998) Judge DeMarco became chief of Sector 303. This story was the first in a series of stories which ultimately led into the Second Robot War.
  • "Sector House" (progs 1215–1222, 2000) told of Judge Rico's assignment to Sector 108.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Major Judge Dredd stories
Succeeded by
The Hunting Party