♦Tripwire gave its Contributing Writer TIM HAYES complete with lawmaster and lawgiver the task of assessing Rebellion’s Cadet Anderson: Teenage Kyx trade paperback…
Cadet Anderson: Teenage Kyx
Writer: Alan Grant;
Artists: Patrick Goddard, Carlos Ezquerra, Steve Yeowell
Prequels have an inbuilt appeal and a potential flaw, both of which crop up in the Cadet Anderson stories collected here from 2000AD. The good part is a view of Mega-City One’s law enforcement mania from an unfamiliar angle – in this case one that’s younger and slightly nearer the ground – and the added colour brought to an existing character by digging in historical territory. The problem arises if that character is vivid enough as an adult to make their youthful scrapes seem disposable compared to what awaits them down the line. Alan Grant – who writes all these tales – has given the grown-up Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson a deft and suggestive backstory that hangs in the back of her mind without necessarily needing to appear in every speech balloon, and he walks a fine line here between lightening Anderson up a bit and hinting at traumas to come.
The curtain raiser is Anderson at only ten years old, drawn by Patrick Goddard as a sweet moppet with a bob-cut, who empathises with a psychopath just enough to earn a slap in the face from her tutor but not enough to shirk from gutting the creep with a knife. Conditional sympathy for Mega-City devils is baked into Anderson’s character as a strength rather than a weakness, although the pre-teen setting makes the pathos lurk a bit too obviously in the weepy air. But the other three stories are spirited urban fantasies about an older and more adventurous Cadet Anderson, two drawn by Carlos Ezquerra and the other by Steve Yeowell. Ezquerra especially makes the most of Anderson undercover as a mohawked punk, a figure drawn with bags of energy and some flattering rear views. He also indulges a knack for the grotesque, in a more doom-laden story of baby farming and minced body parts – not even Anderson feels any empathy for the crooks this time.
Yeowell’s story introduces a manipulative psychic youth named Algol Rey, who eventually returned to torment the adult Anderson to the brink of suicide in a later Megazine storyline. There’s some foreshadowing in the Cadet story – as always Grant lays his plans a long way in advance – but this earlier tale taps a vein of YA camaraderie under pressure in a grown-up world that can’t match the later story’s adult regrets and more isolated redemptions. Perhaps it can’t be expected to, and perhaps the contrast says something about the way that 2000AD is equipped to try bridging the gap between youthful optimism and mature realism, an impressive goal for any comic – but it might also be that Anderson is just more interesting as an adult.
Cadet Anderson: Teenage Kyx is out now from Rebellion