COMIC BOOK REVIEW: JUDGE DREDD: ANDERSON PSI DIVISION / AUTHOR: MATT SMITH / ARTIST: CARL CRITCHLOW / PUBLISHER: IDW / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
IDW recently started producing Judge Dredd comic strips under license from the owners of all things Dredd-related, Rebellion. It seems a little odd to find a full colour Mega-City story in something that isn’t 2000AD, but IDW have so far handled the license very well, often bringing a breath of fresh air to a very established setting. Their latest trade-paperback details an early adventure of Judge Anderson, the PSI Judge who uses empathy and mind-powers to fight crime in addition to the usual tools of a big gun and martial arts training.
Given that the iconic character Judge Anderson was recently (and utterly pointlessly) killed off in the Judge Dredd Megazine, it’s nice to see that another writer, artist, and publisher have picked up on the potential of the character and given her an interesting case to investigate. Judge Dredd: Anderson PSI Division is set during Anderson’s early years and this allows the reader to get stuck in without the need for pages and pages of backstory.
Carl Critchlow’s plot is fairly straightforward; a Mega-City crime boss is using people with psychic abilities in order to commit exciting new crimes, and it’s up to Anderson as one the city’s most powerful PSI division judges to get to the bottom of it all. Though not the most in-depth or complex Anderson story ever told, the simple premise of Anderson punching perps is actually quite refreshing and allows the reader to explore Mega-City One in a different sort of way. It’s also nice to see a Mega-City One that is grimy and crime-ridden without being needlessly dark.
Matt Smith’s art is crisp, clean, and quite beautiful when it needs to be; his cinematic approach to the medium works very well here, and the action is smooth and easy to understand, even in the thick of the fighting.
There is a touch of an arc-plot throughout the story, but the main focus appears to be on two-fisted, perp-beating action and it’s good to see Anderson written as a Judge first and a person with mysterious powers second. Fans of classic 2000AD stories will find themselves on familiar territory.
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