Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Judge Anderson: Childhood's End (1995)

Author: Alan Grant | Illustrator: Kevin Walker | Page Count: 64

There was a simple method of finding out our worth.  Every year, they locked one hundred of us in a Gulag with food for only fifty.’

PSI Judge Cassandra Anderson had a rather severe crisis of faith in the events leading up to this book.  The incident left her unsure of her role in the Justice system, and equally unsure of the system itself.  To distance her from the system that made and fears her, she’s shipped off-world to explore the famous Head of Mars.  For half a million years the head has held mysteries, and it’s time for them to be revealed.

The important moments in Anderson’s development have been handled almost exclusively by Alan Grant.  He took her to dark places within herself that weren't light reading.  Childhood's End is a critical step in that evolution; it’s the step that takes her over the line.  It feels as if it was written to contain one hugely significant act that would go on to shape Anderson from that point onward, but the story that’s built around that act isn't sufficient to carry the weight of it.

I loved Kevin Walker's work on ABC Warriors but his Anderson has a sinewy and overly masculine physique.  Judges are required to be at the peak of fitness at all times but she’s a bit too chunky for my liking.  I prefer Arthur Ranson’s approach, where her strength is more reliant on the ferocity of her convictions.  I think she works best when contrasted with a more traditionally skewed male view of what femininity ought to be, as the seemingly weaker female, so when she revels her true self and crushes those preconceptions it’s much more dramatic.

The book collects together Anderson: Childhood's End from Judge Dredd Megazine: Vol II: Issues 27 - 34.

2½ intelligent apes out of 5

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