Judge Dredd may be gay according to writers on 2000AD, the UK comic where the granite-faced 22nd century lawman has appeared for the past 36 years.
In the latest edition of 2000AD, Dredd appears in a new story entitled Closet which deals with a teenager coming out.
According to a report from PA, the strip shows Dredd kissing the youth in a gay club. However, 21st century tolerance doesn’t seem to have blessed all fans of the lawman and some readers have threatened to burn the comic.
"We have had quite an extreme reaction,” said a source at 2000AD. "Dredd has always been satirical, while touching on serious issues. This is another example of this. However, there is a twist in the tale, with all not being as it seems.”
Dredd fans will be well used to such teasers – one classic 2000AD cover in the eighties saw Dredd’s badge shot through with a smoking bullet hole with the question, “Is Dredd Dead?” emblazoned underneath.
Writer Rob Williams said Dredd's sexuality - whatever it may be - was buried beneath his love for the law. "Although, can you imagine what would happen if that repression ever fell away, just for an instant?
"Sure, Dredd could be gay. You can't look at the original costume design of leather and chains and not see a fetishistic edge there. But Dredd's feelings are so deeply hidden, he is extremely unlikely to ever let them show."
Williams said comics were a great place to deal with issues such as homophobia.
“As long as you stay true to the character throughout - which I think Closet does - you can deal with all sorts of issues in a story. And if they push people's buttons, fine. I'd rather a story be provocative than just, 'and they have a fight'.
"Plus, putting Dredd in a gay club filled with men dressed as him is a pretty funny image. It's worth it for that alone."
Drokk! I think he just gave the game away there.