Our first official look at Karl Urban as Judge Dredd in the anticipated comic book movie, Dredd, came last week, and now Empire’s latest issue sports the man himself on the cover as one of the heroes of 2012.

Collider have a set of scanned images taken from inside the issue, which comes out on Thursday this week, and we get our first look at the brilliant Olivia Thirlby starring opposite Urban as Judge Cassandra Anderson.

Dredd will be directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point) and written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later), and will star Urban (JJ Abrams’ Star Trek) in the eponymous role, Thirlby (Juno) as the rookie Judge Anderson, and Lena Headey (300) as the villain, Madeline Madrigal. The plot is currently being kept under wraps, and the few details we have so far look a little something like this:

DREDD takes us to the wild streets of Mega City One, the lone oasis of quasi-civilization on Cursed Earth. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the most feared of elite Street Judges, with the power to enforce the law, sentence offenders and execute them on the spot – if necessary. The endlessly inventive mind of writer Alex Garland and the frenetic vision of director Peter Travis bring DREDD to life as a futuristic neo-noir action film that returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s revered comic strip.

What’s nice to see is one of the quotes on one of the images by Andrew Macdonald (28 Days Later), who’s producing Dredd, that reads,

The first thing we did was go see John Wagner and talk with him about how the film should be.

Getting Wagner, the creator of the Judge Dredd comics, on board and working with him to develop the film sounds like exactly the right thing to do. As far as I know, Wagner didn’t consult on the 1995 Judge Dredd film, with Sylvester Stallone in the lead, and that film wasn’t received very well by the fans. But now, with Wagner working with Travis and his cast and crew, it definitely sounds like Dredd is going to be one 2012 comic book movie to look out for. And that’s really saying something, given that we have The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Avengers to look forward to next year as well.

These new images show us Thirlby’s rookie Judge for the first time, and she looks like she’s playing the part pretty well. You wouldn’t be quite as afraid of her pointing a gun at you than Dredd just staring you down, but she may well gain more confidence through the course of the movie. We also get our first look at Headey as the villain, also known as Ma-Ma, and she’s sporting some short and spiky hair with what looks to be a pretty menacing scar beneath her right eye. Not someone whose bad side you want to be on. And of course, we get some more great images of Urban as Dredd, kicking down doors, running from explosions, and just generally looking awesome.

We’ve got to wait until September next year to see Dredd, which we’ll be getting in 3D, but it really looks and sounds like it will be worth the wait. Without further ado, here are all the new images, followed by the limited edition, subscribers-only cover of Empire’s next issue and the general cover on the shelves. As usual, click to enlarge.