The opening image of this issue could easily be viewed as an allegory for the journey that lies ahead of our heroine, as she stares into the jaws of death. The first part of the story follows Judges Anderson and DeGroot as they venture deeper into the overgrown swamplands of the Alabama Morass, seeking a colony of mutants thought to be responsible for the psi-attack on the Megapolitain Museum in the previous issue. The second half deepens the mystery surrounding the shadowy Mr Ashberry, and features an appearance by Judge Dredd, who alludes to an intriguing connection between Ashberry’s activities and the night of Anderson’s birth.
Writer Matt Smith used the first issue to establish a solid foundation, and he utilises that grounding to further define Anderson’s character. Inherent traits, such as empathy and sympathy are contrasted with a more ruthless side, demonstrating that she can be just as intimidating and unyielding as her more illustrious counterpart. The breadth of the character’s burgeoning skillset is also explored, especially in one beautifully realised sequence where DeGroot and Anderson combine their psychic powers to explore the foreboding Morass; their collective consciousness taking the form of two ethereal spirits. Smith’s sonorous script enriches a visual narrative that could easily have told the story on its own.
One of the series’ strengths so far has been the artwork of Carl Critchlow, and he’s on point once more. Aside from his broad use of colour and detailed character design, it’s the diversity in layout that really catches the eye. Perhaps the choice to employ such variety is suggestive of Anderson’s mind, in that it’s always shifting perspective, trying to see things from different angles, but in any case it creates a compelling, ever-changing landscape from page to page. The keen-eyed among you might also notice a subtle nod to the movie ‘Predator’ tucked away in one of the splash pages.
Building on a solid opening issue, the creative team have ramped up the tension and intrigue admirably. I predict exciting times ahead.
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