Grud on a Greenie, everyone’s favourite PSI Judge returns in the latest instalment of The PSI Files, a chronological collection of her own Dredd-less adventures. The Sisters of Death, giant City Block robots and death cults all make up the roll call in this meaty combination, showcasing the best of Cassandra Anderson’s heart, wit and mind.
Not blessed with her own weekly strip like resident celebrity Dredd, the stories here are all on the longer side, leading to a less hectic feel than your average Dredd collection, and plenty to savour. Seven stories are collected, all culled from the pages of the Judge Dredd Megazine and written by the man synonymous with Anderson, Alan Grant. Not a short tale among them all, that’s like seven trades for the price of one – each worthy of your time.
Out of the gates so strong, it has the book peaking early with Lucid, an Arthur Ranson illustrated tale in which Anderson does battle with the Sisters of Death as they unleash a killer virus upon Mega City One and attempt to regain entry into the dimens(ssss)ion. For good reason, Ranson will be many folks’ favourite Anderson artist (the incomparable Brett Ewins aside) and he doesn’t disappoint here, a fine blend of realism (his Big Meg is brilliantly mundane yet sharply detailed, and don’t think we didn’t notice that cock sticking out the side of that building on page 11) and Gothic horror. He also does a fine line in body horror too, with plenty of burping pustules, nightmarish visions and the gorgeously ghastly siblings of Death. A fantastic read, Lucid is worth the price of entry alone, especially for fans of the Death family and bigger elements of Mega City history (usually left for Dredd to deal with).
You’re not even nearly done though, with Big Robots, Wiierd, Biophyle, The House of Vyle, The Trip and Stone Voices all still to come. Spoiled rotten by the work of Ranson, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything quite as good in the pages which follow in terms of art – and one’s enjoyment will very much depend on a fondness/tolerance for Boo Cook, whose work fluctuates in quality throughout. The longer stories do mean that there’s less variety for your buck – all Grant, and mostly Cook. He hits his stride for The Trip and Voices though, which is among the book’s best work. Dave Taylor shows up too for Big Robots, a fun story which unfortunately wears out its welcome through time. Lucid aside, there are strong action vibes to this one, which is a shame; Anderson being at her best when dealing with the more weird, horror-orientated end of the Big Meg spectrum.
If The PSI Files #05 is somewhat hit and miss, that’s only because the quality we’ve come to expect from 2000AD and Anderson by now is so Grud-damn high. It may reach classic territory only once, but that’s still more than enough to earn a wholehearted recommendation. Who needs Ol’ Stoney Face anyway?
JUDGE ANDERSON: THE PSI FILES VOLUME 5 / WRITER: ALAN GRANT / ARTIST: ARTHUR RANSON / PUBLISHER: 2000 AD / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 11TH