Review by Karl Verhoven
A strength of Judge Dredd is that his world can encompass any kind of story, and it took a while before Alan Grant realised the same applied to Judge Anderson despite her stories generally being longer. Her first outings were Dredd stories in all but name, the only real difference being the application of Anderson’s psychic talents, and it’s with the material in Book 5 that Grant began moving away from those shackles.
It’s also the first work by Arthur Ranson on Judge Anderson, and his illustrative outlook would both define the character for the 1990s and draw her further away from the world of Mega-City One. He’s working here in black and white, and there are a few initial teething problems, such as cars looking not very different from 1980s Mini Metros. Set against that, Ranson’s people have great personality to their features, and once he tunes into the possibilities of the world, he produces some stunning pages.
‘Triad’ is a spooky story from Alan Grant, initially giving little away as assorted terrors leave devastation in their wake. They also serve to distance Anderson further from Dredd and the standard Judges. “A dozen people burned away to greasy soot before my eyes, begging me to shoot them”, she tells us, “I feel sick right down to my soul”. That’s not the standard combat-hardened Judge who accepts casualties as natural. Grant shows scared children early, and keeps cutting back to them until their participation is clarified, then drops a surprise for anyone familiar with Dredd’s continuity as a major villain returns. It’s emotionally strong, and puts Anderson at odds with the system she represents, if not yet to the point of outright dissent.
Another old enemy returns in the shorter ‘Beyond the Void’, a clever idea compactly executed, but compared with Ranson’s pages Mick Austin’s art isn’t as imaginative. Nor is he ideally suited to the mixture of flippancy and horror in Grant’s story.
Both stories are now more easily found in Judge Anderson: The Psi Files Volume 01, although they lack both the album-sized presentation and John Bolton’s cover.