Walter the Wobot
|Walter the Wobot|
|First appearance||2000 AD prog 10 (1977)|
|Created by||John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra|
Fictional character biography
Walter was Judge Dredd's house robot. He is usually used in stories to provide comic relief, and he has a speech impediment which causes him to pronounce his R's as W's. (This was a defect caused by fear and stress.)
He was originally a robo-servant at the Grand Hall of Justice, and was drafted by Judge Dredd during the First Robot War to help him infiltrate the robot stronghold. Unlike the majority of the robots, Walter believed robots should be diligent slaves for humans. It was Walter who landed the final blow on rebel leader Call-Me-Kenneth, being used to override the city's Weather Control computers and unleash a lightning storm, and he was made a free robot (the first ever) with the rights of a human citizen in 2099 for his loyal services. However he was so devoted to Dredd that he chose to remain in Dredd's employ and even got rid of his freedom papers in exchange for a Deed of Ownership giving him to Dredd. (A later story would retroactively reveal he was granted his freedom again for services against the insane Judge Cal.).
He remained a major recurring character – in the run of stories set on the Moon, he was in fact the only supporting character from Mega-City One – and several stories were even told from his point of view. In some strips, he assisted Dredd in his cases. Walter also was involved in the mega-epics The Day The Law Died, where he went undercover to help bring down Judge Cal, and the Apocalypse War, where he assisted Dredd in escaping the enemy-occupied Grand Hall of Justice.
Whatever Dredd did, Walter remained pathologically loyal: even when he saved Dredd's life but was still sentenced to a month in jail (as he had struck a human in the process), Walter agreed he deserved the sentence.  Dredd was forever irritated by the robot but, although he would never admit it, he developed a small fondness for the robot.
He left Dredd's service after he sustained serious damage at the hands of Mean Machine Angel. This was an effort by the writers to kill him off when Judge Dredd stories were becoming grittier and more mature; in the same story, Dredd's landlady Maria was also written out.
However, the character was brought back by John Wagner in the early '90s, following the Necropolis storyline; he now ran his own used-droid company, taking ownership of robots who had lost their masters to the Dark Judges, and on the surface appeared to be a success (including partially overcoming his speech impediment) who'd grown to loathe Dredd for how he'd treated him. By the end of the story though, it was revealed Walter was still infatuated with Dredd and desperately wanted to be taken back as his servant. Dredd bluntly rejected him and told him to see a shrink. 
He met Dredd again in 2115, helping him escape the forces of Judge Grice and wielding a vast amount of deadly weaponry, killing many ex-convict Judges in the process, but was ignored after he got Dredd to the safety of the other judges. The next year, Walter snapped over these two encounters and formed a cult around Call-Me-Kenneth, proclaiming he'd been wrong to betray him. He attempted to start a second Robot War and actually shot Dredd to punish him for Dredd's harsh treatment of him over the years. He was arrested by Rookie Judge Giant and sentenced to thirty years.
However he was freed from jail during the actual Second Robot War in 2121. Reformed, he sought out Dredd and surrendered to him, asking to be reprogrammed so he could not commit crimes again. Instead, Dredd put him on probation and ordered him to work as a helper for the elderly Mrs Gunderson. Walter lives with Gunderson, helps run her Judge Death-based tourist attraction (and dealing with the Death actors who go insane playing the role), and attempts to keep her out of trouble (with great difficulty); he has made several reappearances alongside her.
As well as numerous appearances in Judge Dredd, in 1978 Walter had his own eponymous comedy series (one-page episodes), in 2000 AD progs 50-61, 67-68, and 84-85. These were almost entirely drawn by Brian Bolland, with the first couple by Ian Gibson, and the last couple by Brendan McCarthy. The writing was credited to Joe Collins and G.P. Rice.
Walter also had a substantial role in the Death Trap audio drama.
- "Robot Wars," 2000 AD #10-17
- "Firebug," 2000 AD #60
- "The Sleeper," Judge Dredd Yearbook 1992
- Prog 191
- Prog 119
- "Destiny's Angels," 2000 AD #281-288
- "The Sleeper," Judge Dredd Yearbook 1992
- "Inferno," 2000 AD #842-853
- "Giant," Judge Dredd Megazine vol. 2 #50-52
- "Incident at Rowday Yates," 2000 AD #1169
- Judge Dredd Megazine #203
- "The A-Z of Judge Dredd," by Mike Butcher (Hamlyn, 1995). (ISBN 978-0600584087)