She’s the psychic cop who has patrolled the dystopian streets of Mega-City One for over four decades, and she’s nobody’s sidekick
Anderson’s an odd one. As a reader, I’d say some of her moments are among the best in ‘Dreddworld’ strips. The to-and-fro with Dredd (“I was wrong. I apologise.”) in Satan was one of the most powerful statements uttered by ol’ square jaw. Shamballa was superb. And those early strips neatly balanced action and pathos in a manner Dredd at the time deeply struggled with.
But I’ve also found Anderson a frustrating read. I do have some issues with her portrayal, primarily because it showcases the male gaze problem at the heart of comics. When she’s illustrated by an artist showcasing their fantasies, looking like a pin-up when she’s a woman deep into middle age, that just feels weird (not least given the continuity that states she cannot have rejuve). Compare that to the recent – and, from a comics standpoint, brave – recent Hershey run. Moreover, there have been the ongoing continuity issues that mean massive events happen in Anderson that aren’t even mentioned elsewhere. That’s part of the problem with an anthology that’s as ‘loose’ as 2000 AD. But it does rather reduce the gravity of an event if it doesn’t impact at all on the wider universe.
I did very much enjoy the Dredd version of the character in the movie, and I thought it a pity the Dredd strips were cancelled. I’d have happily continued reading those to this day – a kind of ongoing Elseworlds Dredd – but I fully understand why the decision was made to avoid that.
It’ll be interesting to see where people take the character next. I’ve mixed feelings about the more recent strips, with Anderson’s ‘gang’. Partly, that might be the storytelling. I dunno. But at least it is trying something a bit different.
(FWIW, I think my intro to Anderson may well have been the 16-page insert that appeared in Zzap!64. Around that time, I was slowly getting into 2000 AD, and so my first ‘proper’ Anderson would have been Four Dark Judges in Best of 2000 AD Monthly 53 – and then The Possessed later that year. Not a bad starting point!)
She's my favourite character too. Well, she was under Alan Grant. Few writers since have successfully captured the right balance of action, emotional storytelling, humour and the fortean concepts that Alan introduced.
Often she's reduced to a passenger in her own story while the writer develops new characters and new concepts, such as Psi Div having a supernatural God Judge, that was never previously mentioned.
I agree with all your points. Her being the emotional mirror to Dredd's pathological stoicism was always great entertainment, and probably how she should best be utilised in the Prog now.
Anderson was always a great foil for Dredd, but was a strong enough character to stand her own series. Strontium Dog has always been my favourite comic book period, not just my fave 2000AD strip.
In part, it probably doesn’t help with something like Chaos that Dredd’s world became far less wacky and far more procedural around The Pit. So while Apocalypse War was followed by a huge range of often bonkers tales, with a wide variety of tone, Chaos was not.
Again, I think this points to a possibility that it was, in hindsight, an error to hollow out the city so much, not least given the city is so much of the character. I suppose for most readers, it won’t matter in the slightest anyway. They just want new tales. But Chaos in the wider scheme of things, for those of us who have read Dredd for decades, just feels odd. To me, it’s about one or two steps up from Inferno, in the ‘being ignored’ stakes, and that feels quite strange given who wrote it.