Off The Deep End?
♦Tripwire’s Contributing Writer TIM HAYES takes a look at Rebellion’s Dredd/ Anderson The Deep End…
Dredd/ Anderson: The Deep End
Writer: Alec Worley
Artist: Arthur Wyatt
Whether or not the 2012 Dredd film eventually generates any sequels, it was a shot in the arm for the character’s visibility outside the pages of his own comic stories and successfully transferred a version of 2000AD’s aggressive science-fiction tone to the screen. And now the transfer is coming back the other way, with the Judge Dredd Megazine starting to run stories set in the as yet loosely defined world of the film, rather than in the comic’s mainstream continuity with its forty years of structure.
The first three of these stories – one for Dredd himself and two for the film’s version of rookie psychic Cassandra Anderson – are collected in this volume, behind a fine Dylan Teague cover inspired by the look of Anderson actor Olivia Thirlby. All are suitably modest in scope, not expanding the characters’ interactions with the world of Mega-City One too far beyond the territory staked out by the film, and avoiding a wander into any narrative dead-ends. Judge Dredd leaves the city altogether, venturing into the Cursed Earth on the trail of a murderer who seems to take the form of scouring radioactive dust, and Ben Willsher’s art catches the less flamboyant design of the movie’s Judge uniforms, a look very adjacent to the Death Race 2000 visuals that inspired the costume in the first place. When the killer emerges from swirling dust swathed in bandages, writer Arthur Wyatt clearly knows the mix of Hammer horror and Star Wars desert nomad he wants Dredd to face.
Anderson’s stories follow on from the film more directly, and nudge out into the unmapped territory that Thirlby’s version of the character has ahead of her. Alec Worley and Paul Davidson throw Anderson back into another urban crisis with hostages and gunmen, forcing her to process bad memories of what happened in Peach Trees block, and then a sequel finds Anderson confronting her own capacity for ruthless justice, with hints of a Justice Department Psi-Division forming behind the scenes.
None of these stories try to echo the flamboyant visual style and blazing colour schemes of the Dredd film, which would be a very tall order, and the Judge Dredd tale doesn’t really need to be in the movie-verse for its narrative or characterisation at all. But the film’s Anderson is a less defined, and so less predictable, character, and watching her overcome obstacles with thoughts of the fearsome Ma-Ma rattling around in her head is nice drama. It would be even better if Ma-Ma could show up, but that’s out of the question for several reasons. Retrofitting characters from the film back into comic form, even within these rigid barriers, might in the end be the best proof of the Dredd movie’s success and its careful handling of its icons – although if the upcoming Mega-City One TV series takes off, some fresh alternatives to these alternatives might turn up before too long.