Judge Anderson: The PSI Files Volume 2 (2012)

 

Quote:
They caught me reading from a banned book. All I can remember from it was one line – “The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime”.

 

This is the second volume of collected stories featuring Judge Anderson taken from 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine. All except one was written by Alan Grant (the exception being a collaboration between Grant and long time writing partner John Wagner) and features three longer stories with a number of short tales interspersed among them. There are a number of artists involved including Arthur Ranson, Steve Sampson, Kevin Walker, Ian Gibson among others.

The first of the longer stories is called Shamballa and sees Anderson and academy colleague, Rickard, travelling to Tibet with two East-Meg 2 psi operatives to investigate the source of a worldwide spate of psychic visions of mythic creatures that are causing death and destruction where they appear. They end up travelling to the region formerly known as Tibet to track down a forgotten race of people with extraordinary psi abilities. The art on this story was by the great Arthur Ranson.

After a number of stories that slowly erode Anderson’s faith in the justice system she eventually cracks and attacks a particularly brutal judge. In the second of the long stories, Childhood’s End, she is sent on a mission to Mars to cool off. On the Cydonian plane, the head monument has opened a portal. Anderson is one of a number of assembled experts who make the expedition into the structure. While inside she must confront a deadly enemy of old and the return of an ancient race determined to wipe out humanity.

The third long story, Postcards from the Edge continues on from the last one and sees Anderson, having resigned as a judge, bumming round the inhabited worlds of the galaxy looking to find herself. This walkabout storyline is the most disjointed, having several different artists contributing to it, and with individual stories of variable quality and interest. Having said that I like the chapters with the distinctive art of Steve Sampson which are good to look at even if they are not necessarily good to read.

The beauty of this volume is that it allows an alternative look at the judges and the justice system of Mega-City. The sometimes brutal tactics of the street judge are questioned here by an increasingly doubtful Anderson as she struggles to get over the suicide of her friend, the empath Judge Corey, and assimilate some the spiritual experiences she goes through in this book and the philosophical questions they raise. Taken all together it is a worthwhile addition to the library even though some of the standalone stories and parts of Postcards from the Edge are not quite as good as the rest.

Cinderella: Fables are Forever (2012)

 

Quote:
What did you expect me to call myself, Dorothy Gale, killer-for-hire? Or maybe the wicked bitch of the East?

 

This book collects the second six issue Fables mini-series featuring super-spy Cinderella. It was again written by Chris Roberson with art by Shawn McManus. There is also a tale set in the preparation for the war with the Adversary, from Fables 51, that was drawn by McManus but written by Fables creator Bill Willingham.

Cinderellla returns in a story set during the evacuation of the Farm because of the onslaught by Mister Dark. One of the leading witches from floor 13 has been murdered and the only clue is a silver slipper charm. Cinderella finds herself tracking down an old foe who she thought was dead and being involved with Fables from the shadow Fabletown that she has spied on in the past. But who can she trust and who is laying traps for who?

Another good standalone tale from the world of Fables. The only problem with it is that it attempts to place itself within the continuity of the main book and uses the murder of a character to achieve this. The story itself, from the time that Cinderella gets down to investigating the case till the resolution, has little impact or relevance to the main book and so the set up seems contrived and unnecessary. But other than that small niggle the story is great with lots of twists and turns and unexpected revelations both from Cinderella’s past and present.

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love (2010)

 

Quote:
Your taste in men hasn’t improved, that’s certain. And you never did know when it was time to leave a party.

 

This book collects the six issue mini-series, from Vertigo, that is a spin-off from Fables. It was written by Chris Roberson who is currently also writing iZombie for the same company. The art was by the great Shawn McManus whose work I don’t seem to see nearly enough these days.

Cinderella, the apparent fashion show hopping socialite, is actually an experienced spy for Fabletown. In this story she is sent off to try and discover and eliminate the source of the flow of magical artefacts into the Mundy world from the Homelands. On the way she hooks up with Aladdin who is on the same mission. Together they uncover a plot to sell artefacts for Mundy weapons so that various individuals can make concerted assaults on Homeland territories now that the Emperor has been defeated. Cindy finds the mission turns personal when confronted with a figure from her past.

This is a fun tale from the world of Fables. The dialogue between Cindy and Aladdin is good and there is enough twists on the expectations of the character of Cinderella to keep the book entertaining throughout. It reminded me a lot of the early days of the Fables series itself when it was much more dependant on its fairy tale origins than it is currently. I love the art by McManus but then I have loved his work from the time of the Dr Fate series from the mid to late 80s.

Dollhouse: Epitaphs (2012)

[ Watching Game of Thrones Currently: Watching Game of Thrones ]

Quote:
Did I mention how much I hate this apocalypse?

 

This book collects the Epitaphs one-shot and the following five issue mini-series. It was written by Andrew Chambliss, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon. All three were also involved with the writing on the TV series upon which the book was based and especially on the two season finales that were set in the same post apocalyptic world. The art was by Cliff Richards and Andy Owens with some exceptional covers by Phil Noto.

The story has two strands. The first follows Maggie, Zone and Griffin as the brain wiping apocalypse starts, turning those that answer phones into ferocious killers or docile imbeciles, how they survive and meet up and their continued fight for survival in the face of the increasing escalation of mind control from the Rossum Corporation. The second follows a young boy Trevor as his uncle is imprinted with the personality of Topher’s assistant Ivy who is working with Alpha to try and raise a resistance army against Rossum. Trevor meets up with Alpha to find he is the only recruit along with some other Ivys but undeterred joins with Alpha in search of Echo and a means to resist the imprinting process. But they must fight their way to her as the Rossum Corporation is also looking for her.

I was a fan of the TV series and thought it had more high points than low, though it could be patchy at times, but when they stuck to the story arc it was generally excellent. This story is a reasonable addition to the canon without being spectacular. The best part was the return of Alpha and his struggle with his demons – but probably that has as much to do with my love for Alan Tudyk’s portrayal of the character. The problem with the story is that it doesn’t really add a whole extra to the mythology of the show so while I enjoyed it I hope Dark Horse commissions a longer mini-series or ongoing series that will allow the writers to go beyond the confines of the TV show .

Batman: Gates of Gotham (2012)

[ Listening to Spiritualized Currently: Listening to Spiritualized ]

Quote:
I have to admit – I’m not impressed.

 

This book collects the five issue Gates of Gotham mini-series. It has a number of creators involved. The story was by Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins with the dialogue by Kyle Higgins with Ryan Parrott on the last three issues. The art was mainly by Trevor McCarthy except for issue 4 where the art was by Dustin Nguyen and Derec Donovan.

Batman has to deal with a bombing campaign in Gotham targeted at landmarks associated with the founding families of the city – the Waynes, Elliots and Cobblepots. With Robin, Red Robin and Black Bat all helping, Batman discovers a vendetta that stretches back to the end of the 19th century when the expansion of the city was at its height. He must stop the bomber before half the city is destroyed by floods.

This story is set before the DC universe reboot and is set after Batman: RIP and after Bruce Wayne’s return and the set up of world wide Batman franchises. So it features Dick Grayson as Batman with Bruce’s son Damien as Robin. And this is one of the problems of this book for me. Yes Bruce Wayne was always going to be a tough act to follow as Batman but you would think that if anyone could pull it off it would be his one time protege, Dick Grayson. Not only did he train under Batman in his time as Robin but he moved on and became a hero in his own right. However, in this story he is almost crippled by self-doubt and would be lost without Tim Drake to help him crack the case – of course he is not helped by the bitter Robin criticising him at every turn. Also the story, despite having four writers working on it, is just not very inspiring – the plot is pedestrian and the new villain boring and formulaic. All in all a bit of a disappointment. The only real bright spot was the art by Trevor McCarthy, whose work I have not seen before but enjoyed looking at here – though why they took an issue away from him is beyond me.