Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi-Division #1-2 (Comics Review)

I got hooked on to the Judge Dredd experience back in late 2011 when I had (mis)fortune of watching the Sylvester Stallone-starrer. It was a rough experience to be sure, but soon after that I took a dip back in when I started listening to Big Finish’s Judge Dredd audios and when I saw the rebooted movie Dredd, starring Karl Urban, which was much, much better of an experience than the original movie. I also experimented with IDW’s Judge Dredd comics in 2012, and then with the original ones from 2000AD last year, and one thing has been clear to me: I really do love Judge Cassandra Anderson a hell of a lot.

And now IDW has launched a new series, starring none other than Anderson, the coolest and most kickass Psi-Judge in the Big Meg. Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi-Division charts the early years of Judge Anderson’s service as part of the Mega City One Justice Department. For someone looking to get into the world of Judge Dredd, this would be a great start I think because of how approachable Matt Smith’s writing is, and also because of how good the art by Carl Critchlow is. The first two issues are the first half of an arc, and there is certainly a lot here to like.

Judge Anderson 0102The story starts off with a peak into Anderson’s origins, the circumstances of her birth, to be more specific. From there, we move on to a mysterious heist that place while Anderson is working an unsought-for case in true Psi-Division fashion, and that’s where the story kicks off. We follow Anderson as she tries to stop the heist, but fails, and then heads off to the Alabama Morass, a vast swampland near Texas City. There are lots of adventures to be had, especially in the second issue when Judge Dredd makes an awesome cameo, but by and large the action is always focused on Anderson herself and every moment of it is great.

To begin with, Matt Smith’s story is very, very dialogue-heavy, making letterer Shawn Lee really bust his chops. That makes it different from most other comics on the stands because most of them are rather sparse with their dialogue, usually relying more on narration or just letting the art speak as well. In Matt Smith’s two issues of this new series, the dialogue is everywhere, and the narration is sparse. I kind of liked that actually, because of the relative uniqueness of it. Plus, it allowed me as a reader to focus more on Anderson and her interactions with her fellow Judges rather than just spend time on figuring her out.

For Judge Dredd fans, both issues are full of references to various aspects of life in the Big Meg, with even Dredd making a significant cameo appearance in the second issue. And from the way that that sequence ends, I’ve got a feeling that next month we are going to see something spectacular happen, a big twist in the story. Can’t wait for that one!

Some of the other great things was that we see the Psi-Division being led by Judge Omar, and that Anderson’s partner in the Alabama Morass is Judge Jovis Degroot of Texas City, another female Judge. From my experiences with Judge Dredd fiction, the setting has often had a good gender balance in characters, especially among the Judges, and I liked that there was a character of colour in a position of authority here. These are both small things, but also quite welcome. They don’t exactly mean anything spectacular or grandiose, but just seeing that kind of acknowledgement and supporting cast for this series gives me a good feeling.

As I said, Carl Critchlow is the artist here with Shawn Lee on the letters. In contrast to other Judge Dredd comics I’ve read, both the pencils and colours in this new series are different from the norm. For the former, the characters are often stylized and they come across as warm and personable, rather than being brutal figures of authority or criminality. For the latter, there are lots of scenes here with some warm-hued colours, and that really helped the setting come alive for me, since the grimdarkness was held at bay here. More of that would be excellent, and I’ll say that the art is one of the big reasons why you should read this new title.

An awesome start!

Rating: 8.5/10


Posted on September 16, 2014, in 2014 Reading Challenge, Challenges, Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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