Review: Anderson – PSI Division #4

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Anderson 4

Publisher – IDW

Matt Smith – Writer

Carl Critchlow – Art

Shawn Lee – Letters

Editor – Denton J Tipton

Variant Covers by Matt Haley, Mimi Yoon and Agnes Garbowska

IDW’s made for America debut story for 2000AD’s premier Mega City One psychic cop Cassandra Anderson reaches its thrilling conclusion in The King of Six Sectors part four.

As Cass Anderson’s debut adventure for IDW comes to a close we find our heroine alone and in big trouble having allowed her confidence to overcome her common sense and set out alone to confront the man she has perused from the off following a psychic flavoured heist on the Megapolitan museum all the way to the dangers of the Alabama Morass and its giant mutated beasts and secrets back to the city and through its mean streets she shares with Dredd.

Now, sitting bound both physically and psychically by her quarry turned captor, the horrifying Mr Ashbury, she requires all of her formidable talents and a helping hand not only from her Boss back at PSI Division but also from a surprising source if she is to stand any chance of getting out of this one!

Rookie Judge Cassandra Anderson is a challenging character for comic book creators to take on.  Her appearance can all too easily become the focus of attention as opposed to the action and drama that her fellow Mega City Law-bringer Joe Dredd so easily offers and her powers, whilst formidable, are tricky to express in a coherent way on the page without it turning into a barrage of internal monologue and expositional dialogue to explain the esoteric nature of her psychic endeavours.  Her lack of physical strength can leave her as little more than a damsel in need of rescue by Dredd and her role becoming that of the readers proxy in the story.  A softening of the edges of Joe’s more excessive and belligerent tropes.  A beautiful, blonde, Jiminy Cricket perched on the shoulder of the shoot first, by the book, Judge who will allow the writers a get out of jail free card should they write the pair into a corner Dredd can’t punch his way out of.

So it is no insignificant feat that Matt Smith and Carl Critchlow have achieved here in pulling off a solo tale that needs none of those cliches and allows Cass to carry the weight of being the name on the front of the book with consummate ease.  Pushing Anderson out of Dredd’s shadow and allowing her to stand firmly on her own two feet as a well rounded, and most importantly, capable lead.

Her skills as a detective have often outmatched those of her male partner in the pages of her parent comic, the iconic 2000AD, and over 35 years since John Wagner and Brian Bolland brought her to life she has seen challenges and perils that many a comic book hero would envy.  But here IDW are introducing her to a newer American audience who, in the main, will only know Anderson from the excellent Dredd 3D, as portrayed in fantastic style by Olivia Thirlby, and so ensuring she got off on the right foot and built upon that excellent foundation was vital and so Smith and Critchlow had their work cut out for them.

Well fans of Anderson need not have worried as the opening adventure is a strong offering.  Smith has given us a hero easily the measure of any other with depth and mystery aplenty but with the smarts and abilities to ensure she does not find herself awaiting rescue by her big butch buddies.  Chrichlow has also triumphed in the way with which he has brought Cass’s powers to vivid visual life ensuring not only that the reader is not confused by what is happening on the page but doing so in a way that is a real treat to see.

Where Cassandra’s story will take us from here is anybodies guess as we end both looking forwards and back into Anderson’s past with many a question unanswered.  Hopefully our creators here will be with us on that journey for some time to come.  The King of Six Sectors may not be quite up to Wagner and Grants absolute best work with the character it is without question a terrific introduction and this version of Judge Anderson has the foundations to really grow into something terrific.

Judge Dredd: Anderson PSI Division 4 hits the shelves on the 24th of December.

Be sure to check out a sneak peek of this and all the rest of this weeks releases over in our Preview Section.