The Robot Wars

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"The Robot Wars"
PublisherIPC Magazines Ltd
Publication date30 April – 18 June, 1977
  • Science fiction
Title(s)2000 AD progs 10–17
Creative team
Writer(s)John Wagner
Artist(s)Ron Turner
Mike McMahon
Ian Gibson
Carlos Ezquerra
Editor(s)Tharg (Pat Mills)
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01ISBN 1-904265-79-0 Search this book on Logo.png. Logo.png Search The Robot Wars on Amazon.

The Robot Wars was the first extended storyline of the comics character Judge Dredd, published in 1977 on the British anthology 2000 AD. The first episode saw the first appearance of a long-running supporting character, Walter the Wobot, Dredd's robot manservant.


In the first episode, a robot called Call-Me-Kenneth runs amok killing people until it is apparently destroyed by Judge Dredd. However the next episode has Call-Me-Kenneth being revived in a new body. He was supposed to have been reprogrammed, but was reactivated before his malignant persona could be removed and after killing the human technician that restored him he calls upon the droids of the city to rise up against their masters.

Dredd resigns in protest when his superiors refuse to pass stricter anti-robot laws to deal with the threat, but when war breaks out he returns to duty. The war claims countless lives, including many of Dredd's fellow Judges, but unexpected help arrives from Walter, an old vending-machine droid who has served the Judges' headquarters for decades. Walter and several other droids remain loyal to humanity and, led by Dredd, are able to form a resistance movement; in time, they discover the 'new order' promised by Kenneth is nothing of the sort, as most droids are subjected to slave labour even more brutal than that dictated by the humans. Dredd confronts Kenneth on the city's weather control centre, where Kenneth falls to his destruction.

In the war's aftermath, the droids who assisted Dredd are awarded with "pleasure circuits"; Walter, as the first and most dedicated, is given the unprecedented reward of total freedom. Much to Dredd's dismay, however, he tires of his new status within days and relocates to Dredd's apartment as an unofficial (and largely unwanted) companion.

The story was set in 2099. A second Robot War, taking place in 2121, was depicted in "The Doomsday Scenario", published in 1999. Both stories were written by John Wagner with art from various artists.

In 2008 one reviewer wrote: "The very first story in which the Judge Dredd series finally comes alive is the Robot Wars, where the parallels between the robots in the story and black slaves is made quite explicit."[1]

Cultural references[edit]

Wagner uses parodies of the speeches of Hitler for most of Kenneth's dialogue.

The loyal robots are programmed to follow the Laws of Robotics invented by Isaac Asimov for his robot stories, though evidently the laws are not as effectively implemented in the Judge Dredd story.


The story had a single issue prologue leading into the main story:

  • Judge Dredd (all written by John Wagner):
    • "Robots" (with Ron Turner, in 2000 AD #9, 1977)
    • "Robot Wars" (with Carlos Ezquerra (1), Ron Turner (2, 4 and 7), Mike McMahon (3 and 6) and Ian Gibson (5 and 8), in 2000 AD #10–17, 1977)

The story has undergone extensive reprinting, most recently in Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01 (2005).


  1. Quaequam Blog Review, 2008

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Major Judge Dredd stories
Succeeded by
The Cursed Earth

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