As far as comic book worlds go, the Judge Dredd universe might be the most metal. It focuses on one of a legion of hardcore single-minded biker-cops who patrol a vast mega-city hunting criminals, mutants, and cyborgs in a quest for total justice, in the name of the law. Could this story get any more metal? The answer is yes, because this hasn’t even taken into account the world’s coolest villains, the Dark Judges.
The Dark Judges are four twisted perversions of Mega-City One’s lawmakers. They come from a parallel universe in which they determined that crime stemmed from life, and as such life must be extinguished in order to kill crime at its roots. Through the magic of two terrifying witches, they become undead monsters, their natures and uniforms changed to reflect their new morbid purposes.
The leader of the crew is Judge Death, a leering spectral creature whose MO is phasing into someone’s chest and squeezing their heart until it explodes. With him is Judge Fear, a knight-like creature who throws bear traps and whose helmet hides his madness-inducing face; Judge Mortis, a sheep skull-headed spirit of rot who spreads rapid decay and putrefaction wherever he goes; and Judge Fire, a pitchfork-wielding flame demon who earned his purpose by burning down a school full of kids in response to a noise complaint.
What makes the Dark Judges so awesome is their mixture of both horror and law. The Judges aren’t just villains like, say, the Joker, who enjoy killing for killing’s sake. They are more like Venom, obsessed with a concept of order and purity. They believe the only way to save the world is to strip it of crime-breeding life. The city is guilty. The crime is life. The sentence is Death.
If you get a chance, dig up the old 2000 AD comics and bathe in the Dark Judges’ greatness. The writing may be a little simplistic, but the art is killer, and the world itself is a ton of fun to immerse yourself in.