The Pit (Judge Dredd story)

The Pit (Judge Dredd story)

"The Pit" is a "Judge Dredd" story which appeared in British comic "2000 AD" in 1995-1996 (issues 970-999). It has the greatest number of episodes (thirty) of any single "Judge Dredd" story (although "Oz" has the highest page count, at 199 pages). However it is mainly notable for introducing 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 bunch of thugs, but Warren is suspended, having failed to intervene because it would expose his affair with DeMarco. He loses his temper and assaults Dredd, who immediately places him under arrest. Dredd appoints Judge Buell to take charge 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 become 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 gang. 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 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 vigourously 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 in 1931).

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


*John Wagner

Main artists:
*Carlos Ezquerra
*Colin MacNeil
*Lee Sullivan
*Alex Ronald


It has been collected into a trade paperback:

*"Judge Dredd: The Pit" (Hamlyn, 1997, ISBN 0-600-59433-5) [ [ 2000AD Online - reprint zone ] ]

Related stories


*"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

* [ The Pit overview] , by Arthur Wyatt

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