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

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Judge Anderson: PSI Files Volume 2 (2012)

Authors: Alan Grant / John Wagner  |  Illustrators: Arthur Ranson / David Roach / Kevin Walker / Mark Wilkinson / Charles Gillespie / Xuasus / Ian Gibson / Enric Romero / Mike Collins / Steve Sampson / Tony Luke  |  Page Count: 304

Nine years old and already they’re learning they’re a breed apart.
They belong to the Law.  They don’t take part in life.  They watch it.  When they grow up, they’ll judge it.’

Volume 2 continues the reprint of the Judge Cassandra Anderson stories in (mostly) chronological order, and unlike Volume 1 (2009) the majority of this one’s in colour.  Cassandra can kick ass if she wants to but her stories deal with subjects more emotional, cerebral and far-reaching than Dredd’s.  Old Stony Face pops up occasionally but it’s either as fan-service or simply as a device to keep alive a connection to the judicial system.  Everyone’s favourite asshole, Judge Goon, also pops his ugly head up when least wanted.

Up until now we've primarily viewed Anderson as the thing that didn't fit into the world, she was at cross-purposes with her calling and an affront to the times.  The book shifts more to her perspective and shows that it’s the world that’s gone to hell, and she is perhaps the only free thinker in a sea of oppression.

A large part of this volume is about religion.  Living life by a code written in a book that’s part truth and part lie (which part is which?) is something Cassandra has been doing all her life, so it’s a natural fit to bring religion into it, and doing so helped further place her as a tiny speck in the enormity of the world; the mote in God’s eye.  She often finds herself feeling sympathetic to people with any kind of faith because her own is wavering, and ironically the more truth she uncovers the more her faith collapses, or is subjugated by a large green boot.

The best story here is the magnificent Shamballa.  It’s one of Grant’s most successful studies of self, and an absolute perfect fit to the talents of artist Arthur Ranson.  Shamballa is the finest Anderson story I've ever read.  It's also the only one taken from the pages of 2000 AD.  The remainder comes from the Judge Dredd Megazine (with some bonus one shots gathered together at the end, culled from the Judge Dredd annuals (1985 – 88)).

The Megazine launched in 1990, and quickly established itself as a platform for more adult stories than 2000 AD.  The format wasn't afraid to take chances both in narrative and in the art department.  There are 11 different artists on display here, and each of them offer a unique view of what Anderson is.

Partway through the book is the Childhood’s End storyline that I've reviewed already (HERE).  After that things take a different route, literally.  The narrative manages to be both self-analytical and more open-ended.  It’s like a road trip that takes regular stops at Cassandra town.  Each part is self-contained and also part of the arc that takes her into the unknown.

5 death symbols out of 5