Robot 6

‘Anderson: Psi Division’ flies solo in new series

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[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

In my years of reading comics, Judge Dredd has been a pretty big blind spot for me. That is until the 2012 movie. I loved the relatively low-scale stakes that still managed to pack a lot of character in its limited environment. People like to say that Dredd is about a fascist society, but to me it felt more like the Wild West. Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) were more like sheriffs enforcing the law in a lawless society, and certain scenes — like Dredd walking down an empty hallway with people left and right — definitely recalled Western imagery. I started to dig into the 2000AD comics and the new IDW series.

The one character I really wanted to learn more about, though, was Anderson. In many ways, she was the true protagonist of the Dredd movie. She had an arc, going from wide-eyed rookie to assertive equal over the course of the film. I noticed, too, that while reading the IDW comics the mood certainly picked up when she appeared. Anderson was the one person who Dredd seemed to trust in the utmost, and it was cool to see his demeanor change from grim symbol of justice to a man who’s eased up a bit because he’s conversing with a friend. It also whet my appetite for the new IDW comic, Anderson: Psi Division (written by Matt Smith with art by Carl Critchlow).

The comic takes Anderson out of Mega-City One. The Alabama Morass is a nice change of pace from the urban maze of towers and city streets. The Wild West imagery is even more pronounced, with Anderson skimming a hover bike across a lake and battling giant crocodiles in a bayou with a fellow officer wearing a 10-gallon hat with a giant honking sheriff’s star. A big cowboy hat adorns the Cursed Earth’s Hall of Justice. As fun as it is to follow Dredd in his flailing pursuit of justice, it’s also great to watch Anderson at work. Her personality is the direct opposite of Judge Grumpy Face. She prefers to engage others and make personal connections rather than simply interrogating.

She also had psychic powers, but that’s secondary to the appeal of an Anderson comic… though admittedly it does change the dynamic, as she relies more on her mental powers than her guns. Her true power is seeing Mega-City One and its colorful surroundings in a whole new way.

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It really was a solid debut. Smith and Critchlow are awesome Dredd creators and Anderson is one of the best supporting characters out there.

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