I got the Matt Haley version which was gorgeously moody and had perps and the city in the background while Anderson stands ready to unleash the Lawgiver in the foreground. Loved the effect of the cracked ground and the eyeball in the top right smoking away with psi power.
It’s striking and effective.
We open in 2080 and get from the outset that this is directly linked to the Dredd: Year One mini-series as we find ourselves at the height of the juve riots caused by the alternate universe leakage.
Anderson is hurriedly delivered at St Oprah’s and given her name.
We then arrive in 2104 where she awakes with a psi-flash about a museum raid. Foregoing sleep to help out she brings her sassy A-game and partly foils the raid giving a lead where other Judges would have failed. The mystery surrounding the raid leads her to the dangers of the Alabama Morass.
In this introduction, Matt Smith is not looking to re-invent the character for the US market and Anderson remains flippant, strong and dedicated to duty. Her inability to remember her parents is a nice nod to the psi blocks put in place by the Department to enable her to forget her abuse and the fatal repercussion thereof.
The writing is sharp and there seems to be no flowery dialogue. Anderson’s perhaps easier to write for than Dredd as she has more humanity to her so hopefully this will give Smith something to springboard off for future instalments. The heist for the sole target of the map is a good enough mystery to get Anderson (and though her the reader) interested, especially as it leads to Ashberry himself. The use of a mutant as a weapon of distraction was likewise a clever plot device and so was the reluctance of Anderson to use the kill shot except where necessary.
Degroot, the lone Texan practitioner of pychogeography, is a nice character and her backstory of criminality is a good match for Anderson. Both are unconventional and are in the Judge force by virtue of their talents rather than choice. Her vanishing leaves a duality to her character. Has she gone for help or has she left Anderson to die?
The casual nature of Anderson (sitting on the Chief’s desk) is refreshing compared to that of Dredd and perhaps this makes her a more accessible character at first read.
My one problem is Omar being Chief of Psi Div in this story. Is it set in an alternate universe? In July 2104 the Big Meg was under attack from the Sovs so if this is set before that time then Judge Ecks should be head of Psi Div (not Omar) until he is eventually killed in a direct nuke hit at TCB West. If it is set after then the city looks remarkably undamaged and Anderson herself gives one clue in that heading for the Alabama Morass is the first time she has properly left the city (except for Cursed Earth training). She was on the team that travelled to Sov territory to wipe out East Meg 1, so it is odd she would forget that since it would be a vibrant recent event.
Cricthlow’s work here is awesome from the deep reds and explosions at the height of the chaos giving way to the calm blues of the hospital to the lush, dense vegetation of the Morass (check out that panel on page 15 of the light bounce). The latter setting has a claustrophobic and overbearing feeling about it which makes the action seem even more deadly as it is close quarters. There are even a couple of Dutch angles thrown in for good measure.
Loved the fire in Anderson’s eyes as she wakes from the psi flash on page 3 and the bike on page 4 is just beautiful with the huge smoking exhausts. The characters he draws are rich, expressive and vibrant (check out the short ugly dude on page 5 with the dolly bird’s norks at perfect height for him) and the psi blast on page 6 was well executed. The exhibits on display (including the chopper and washing machines) are a cool nod to the nature of the 20th century artefacts and how they are viewed in the Big Meg.
The final panel of Ashberry looking out over the gorgeous city (nice skysurfers) was beautiful. And we still don’t get to see Ashberry’s face.
He pulls off three master strokes here. The first is the recreation (from a slightly different angle but still amazingly accurate) of McMahon’s Texas City cityscape from the Judge Child Quest. This was utterly brilliant and enhances the appreciation for the genuine article too.
The second was the fact that Anderson has a Judge plushie in her apartment, as seen in the 1988 Winter Special story by Ian Gibson. That’s two quality nods.
The third is the hov bikes last seen in the Alabammy Blimps story. That’s three for three.
Quibbles? The city itself seems a bit too clean for the Big Meg but maybe we’re just seeing the better parts of it though.
Anderson is carrying the Lawgiver Mark II in 2104, some 17 years before it was introduced.
It seemed impossible for the guy with the gun to his head to swing the laser before Anderson could pull the trigger and then seemingly leap back ten feet.