Sunday, 8 June 2008

‘Anderson, Psi-Division’ – John Wagner, Alan Grant (Rebellion Books)

I never read a lot of 2000AD when I was growing up (the local newsagent got wise to my just standing there and reading his stock without paying for it…) but I knew who Judge Dredd was, everyone did. In the towering landscape of Mega-City One Dredd was the law but he didn’t have to do it all by himself, oh no… In this world of the future people with psychic ability are trained at an early age to go into the Justice Department’s Psi-Division, a team of Judges who can detect crimes before they are even committed! Foremost amongst these Judges is Judge Cassandra Anderson and this book is the first collection of her stories from 2000AD.
The first thing I thought when I picked this book up was, ‘if the Psi-Judges can detect crime before it’s even committed then won’t this be a really short book?’ Surely all the Justice Department would have to do would be to place all citizens under house arrest and then all the Judges could go and buy doughnuts and coffee! It’s not as simple as that though, not only do Psi-Division help out the regular Judges but they are also called on to solve crimes of a para-normal nature and go up against psi-agents from other countries. In this collection Anderson not only has to save the life of a boy possessed by a demon but she must also prevent Sov agents from releasing the assassin Orlok. If this wasn’t enough, she must save the city from the Dark Judges, undead custodians of a dimension where all life has been declared a crime and the only sentence is death…
The stories are fairly straightforward but definitely entertaining, police procedural tales in a world of the future. Plenty of gunfights, wise cracks and justice being served! Anderson’s cocky attitude makes a change from Dredd’s stoicism and lends extra emphasis to scenes where she has a tough choice to make. This is something I particularly liked about this book and what I’ve also managed to read from 2000AD. The writers are not afraid to acknowledge sticky situations and they will take the risky option in order to tell a story that packs some punch, this is definitely the case in at least one of the stories in this collection… They’re also not afraid to acknowledge that the Judges do have weaknesses and are not by any means infallible. I’m not sure if this is a comment on the totalitarian system in Mega-City One or simply a means to keep the story moving. Probably a bit of both but still good fun to read.
Having come to this book after having read the Slaine collection I wasn’t that impressed with the artwork this time round, there was nothing wrong with it as such it just didn’t seem to do it for me as much as the Slaine stuff. This is awkward when you’re reading a book where the artwork forms at least 90% of what you’re looking at!
It’s still a good read though, definitely one for the fans and ideal for a quick flick through if you want to know what all the fuss is about.

Seven and Three Quarters out of Ten

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