Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Books: Judge Anderson: Satan


Judge Anderson: Satan
Written by Alan Grant
Art by Arther Ranson

Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:

So yeah: there's a trailer out for the new Dredd film [1] and so I thought it would be a good idea to get some Judge Dredd related content up on here seeing how I'm a 2000ad kid from way back and Judge Dredd is totally zarjaz.

Only - there's not all that much collected Judge Dredd stuff that we have in Islington that's that good. Yes we do have a few volumes of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files (and I guess I should make a post about them on here before the film comes out) - but the problem for me with those is that it's not a complete set which means that it feels a little untidy to (yeah - ok - I's got issues but whatever). But then again: well - then again - there's Judge Anderson: Satan. Which is complete (you can read it from start to end and there's not anything left out) and - with Arthur Ranson at the art controls (who some of you may recognise as that guy who drew the first three volumes of Button Man) - it is one of the most exquisite Judge Dredd (well - Judge Dredd-related) books out there (and - hey - Olivia Thirlby plays Judge Anderson in the Dredd film - so it all ties in).

Orginally based - lookswise - on Debbie Harry (because hey - this was way back in 1980) Judge Anderson is the bleeding-heart liberal type set up to constrast to Joe Dredd's special blend of fascist tendencies and punching people in the face. In fact Judge Anderson (first name: Cassandra [2]) is so touchy-feely and empathic she's actually psychic (and is a leading member of Mega City One's Psi-Division [4]: which is like the B.P.R.D. only everyone's a Judge - wait: you all know who the Judges are right?). So obviously - the best thing to do with someone who thinks that there's good inside everyone and who never met a non-violent solution that didn't appeal - the best thing to do with someone like that is to set them against Satan - the original bad boy.  

With a suitable apocalyptic bent (love those panels with all the people's faces [5]) and lots of cool speechifying (it's true what they say - the devil does get all the best lines): this is a good place to start a Judge Dredd obsession - the way Arthur Ransom draws things it feels like the Mega City One is real enough to live in and all he's doing is drawing the things he sees. The ending is a little abrupt yes (everytime I read it it kinda captures me by surprise and I'm all like: erm. huh? what?) but yeah the artwork (and those awesome splash pages!) means that I'm pretty forgiving - it's all so immersive and tactile - and his almost water-colour-type colouring (Is it water-colours? I've gotta confess have no real idea) makes it a vision of the future that you just don't ever really see (normally we prefer our futures black and bleak and bold): this is less Blade Runner and more like - if you had to compare to it to film -  Tarkovsky's Solaris [6]: a bit muted and a bit washed out but still with a sharp bite to beware of. 

[1] Which so far seems to be staking it's claims to goodness purely on the fact that Karl Urban won't be taking his helmet off at all. Quote: ""It's going to be much more gritty, much more real - the environment, Mega City One, is going to feel like a real city. It's not going to feel like a Hollywood back-lot. There will be no gold cod-pieces, and we're definitely going to stay faithful to the way that the character was originally conceived and written. He'll keep helmet on."(As if all the sins of Sylvester Stallone 1995 could be absolved if  he just kept his helmet on- rather than the fact that it's such a bad movie because: it's such a bad movie) In facts: Film Crit Hulk wrote a very good essay called HULK ESSAY YOUR ASS: TANGIBLE DETAILS AND THE NATURE OF CRITICISM which you may want to read at some point now. And also: it's written by Alex Garland (who writes amazing openings for films: (see: 28 Days Later and Sunshine) - but never met an ending that he couldn't screw up completely (see: *ahem* 28 Days Later and Sunshine)) and directed by Pete Travis who made Vantage Point (which is so forgetful that I can barely remember watching it - altho I am pretty certain that it was totally rubbish) so - no - I'm not getting my hopes up that high even tho: the idea of a Judge Dredd movie is amazing and hopefully someday someone will make one? And if anyone is accepting pitches - then may I say that there's a Judge Dredd arc called The Graveyard Shift which would be perfect place to base things on. 

[2] Because if there's one thing 2000AD is good at - it's subtle writing. [3]

[3] And now you know enough to get the reference in this joke from Spaced: 

Daisy: "So who was this girl then?" 

Tim: "Her name was Cassandra, she was a psychic, she gave me her phone number..." 

[hands Daisy a piece of paper]

Daisy: "That's OUR phone number." 

Tim: "Man, she's good." 

[4] Oh man - tell me that you can read this without thinking that this all just sounds so amazing: "Like the rest of the Justice Department, Psi-Division contains several smaller sub-divisions. These include the Exorcist Judges, who deal with exorcising demonic activity; the Department of Magic who were tasked with examining magic and how best to judge it; and the Dream Police." (The "Dream Police"? Ha - See [2]) 

[5] In fact the panels of lots of people's faces getting smaller and smaller is a bit of a comics staple by now (didn't Frank Miller's Holy Terror do something very similar?): I wonder what person did it first? 

[6] It's normally a pretty wanky thing to do to mention Solaris (and damn it hand on heart - I prefer the Soderbergh version) - but (sorry) it's the only comparsion that comes to mind.

Links: 2000AD Review with Arthur Ranson.

Further reading: MazeworldButton Man, The Batman/Judge Dredd Files, The Ballad of Halo Jones.

All comments welcome.


Tam said...

I thought the remake of Solaris is one of the best science fiction films of the decade and was far better than the original, although I can see how cineastes who have a taste for watching people standing portentously in gardens in the rain might prefer the original.

The Anderson stories are mostly a bit weak and read like Alan Grant's just hacking them out but I have a fondness for them anyway on account of Ransome's lovely art. More than pretty much any comic artist, I feel like I'm looking at real buildings and people which gives it a lovely immersive quality.

Islington Comic Forum said...

I totally agree with you about the Solaris remake. One of the few (the only?) Steven Soderbergh films I actually own (altho I did like Contagion when I saw it in the cinema - so might buy that if I see it cheap anywhere)... George Clooneys is really good in it - the soundtrack is wicked (Cliff Martinez - who also did the Drive Soundtrack and (fun fact!) is the ex drummer of Red Hot Chili Peppers AND(!) Captain Beefheart which just kinda blows my mind). Bonus points for the fact that it has Jeremy Davies in it too (aka Daniel Faraday in Lost!) who only really has one acting style ("being very twitchy") but is so full of awesome that I don't care. But yeah - it's a good one. And my favourite mini-genre: boring science-fiction with scientists where nothing much happens but it's still cool (see also: The Andromeda Strain and Phase IV).

The Tarkovskiy version: yeah. Very boring but not in a good way. I did really like the bit with the car going down the motorway (which was beautifully hypnotic - but then that's one of things film does best I think - showing things moving).

In conclusion: I should really start an Islington Film Forum I think.

And yeah: I agree with what you said about the Anderson stories all feeling a bit weak - like they need more iron in their diet or something - but Arthur Ranson - man - he could draw a book entirely of his balls and I think it'd still be work a read or two.