A recurring presence in Judge Dredd stories and her own spin-off strip, Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson is one of the most popular characters from the world of Mega-City One. 2012’s movie Dredd saw a younger Anderson on one of her first cases; around the same time, Alan Grant wrote a series of Cadet Anderson strips, tying into that movie by exploring Anderson’s time at the Academy of Law. These stories are now collected together for the first time.
Big Girls Don’t Cry is a short and snappy six-pager which sees a ten-year-old Anderson coming face to face(s) with the serial killer known as Mr. Face. It’s a gory little tale, especially considering the youth of its protagonist, and effectively sets up the conflict in Anderson’s character – she has to face horrible situations like this and administer justice, but is, and always has been, a more compassionate character than the likes of Dredd.
The title story, Teenage Kyx, jumps ahead a few years. Teenage Anderson goes undercover in the criminal gang behind a series of robberies. It’s definitely the kind of story you couldn’t imagine Dredd in; not only does Anderson dress in punk garb, but there’s an emotional core in her sympathy for gang leader Malinda Kyx, a villain with a tortured past and similar abilities to Anderson.
Next up is Algol, in which Anderson and her tutor Rand are on the trail of a former Psi-Cadet turned murderous perp. This villain, Algol Rey, also has mind powers – albeit much more powerful than any of our Psi-Division heroes. Despite the interesting aesthetic this allows for, as Algol messes with the Judges’ senses, the story is rather predictable, with the big twist heavily signposted and dealt with swiftly.
Finally, One in Ten sees Anderson and a group of cadets investigate a sinister trade in human meat. This dark and gruesome tale highlights the difficulty of life as a Psi-Judge, with the horrors of life in the Big Meg only made worse by telepathic abilities. There’s an emotional sting when this leads one of the Cadets to desperate measures; however, we never really get to know these characters, introduced just for one story, and the impact might have been greater were there more supporting character continuity between stories.
There’s no real standout among these strips and nothing pushes the boundaries like Alan Grant’s earlier and weirder Anderson: Psi Division stories. Rather, they’re largely predictable crime tales albeit with psionically powered villains. Anderson is a compelling hero, with her compassion and youth standing her out from what Dredd readers may be used to, and so keeps this volume entertaining, but other tales do more interesting things with her, while more depth and continuity to the supporting characters would have gone a long way too.
CADET ANDERSON – TEENAGE KYX / AUTHOR: ALAN GRANT / ARTIST: CARLOS EZQUERRA, PATRICK GODDARD, STEVE YEOWELL / PUBLISHER: REBELLION / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 12TH