Judge Giant was created by John Wagner & Ian Gibson and his first appearance was in a two part story The Academy of Law (Prog 27 & 28 August 1977). He was the son of the Harlem Heroes (from the story of the same name Prog 1 February 1977 and still running at the time) captain John ‘Giant’ Clay. It is assumed by most readers that Judge Giant’s name before entering the Academy of Law, at the age of 5, was John Clay but we only know for certain his surname. He opted though to use the name Giant.
Giant was assigned to Judge Dredd for his final assessment, a Rookie Judge must have a street evaluation with a Senior Street Judge before becoming a full Judge. Dredd had at this point given a pass to one Rookie Judge. It is important to know that this article deals with the main Judge Dredd continuity from 2000AD, Dredd hasn’t even met Anderson yet.
Dredd initially told Giant he was a fail after a firearm mishap and incorrectly sentencing a perp. However when a call to respond to a Kidnapping came Dredd agreed to give Giant another chance. Giant not only performed expertly on that case but even when threatened with a fail he stood up to Dredd when the lawman pretended he was going to illegally execute the kidnappers. Giant’s integrity won through.
Giant proved himself further when Judge Cal took charge of Mega-City One The Day The Law Died (Progs 86 to 108 October 1978 to April 1979). Cal had brainwashed the majority of the Department of Justice by implanting suggestions in the daily crime update. Being a recently qualified Judge Giant had not been fully indoctrinated but pretended to be so in order to rescue Dredd. Giant took Dredd to join the Judge-Tutors who had formed a resistance against Cal.
Giant was Dredd’s first protege in the comics and he was a firm favourite with fans. He was much more relaxed than Dredd, his father was John, ‘Giant’ Clay after all. He used the 1970s US American ‘jive talkin’, which does date the strip somewhat.
Judge Giant’s life is cut short in Block Mania (Progs 236 to 244, October to December 1981), now available as part of the Judge Dredd Mega Collection. Investigating the possible causes of Block Mania Giant was killed, in a very ‘throw away’ manner by Orlok. The death of Gianty sent shockwaves through the fans, it was so casual in the way it was portrayed. At the time the writers felt it was a good idea and I agree. Judges are human and live dangerous lives, not all can die in a heroic manner.
Retrospectively a reason for Giant’s poor performance on that fatal day is blamed on his concern for a female Citizen named Adele Dormer. Giant had apparently been in a relationship with Dormer, Judges are prohibited from having relationships due to the dangers they bring. It was such a danger that killed Giant, he had too much of his mind on Dormer and their son. This was explained in Young Giant (Progs 651 to 655, November to December 1989) it is possible his son was born shortly after his death.
An alternate reality version of Judge Giant appeared in Helter Skelter (Progs 1250 to 1261, July to September 2001). In that reality Giant had been fully brainwashed and murdered Dredd to please Chief Judge Cal.
I will write another article about Judge Giant’s son, Judge Giant (jnr}.
Who is Orlok?