On this day, 20 July 1985: 2000AD (Prog 427)
On this day, 20 July 1985 … A ssssizzling Judge Death cover here by Robin Smith, but Prog 427 is notable less for the presence of the withered-clawed one than for including the final episode of the very first series of Anderson Psi Division. Cassandra Anderson had appeared in 2000AD before now, of course, as a supporting character in several Judge Dredd serials (Judge Death, Judge Death Lives, The Apocalypse War, The Graveyard Shift and City of the Damned), but her popularity was such that the decision was made to develop her character in a series following her own arcs away from the Dredd-led narrative. New episodes of Anderson Psi Division are still appearing in 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine today.
Starting out as a foil for Dredd – a humane face of Justice Department to throw Joe’s stony absence of sentimentality into more chilling relief – and then an opportunity to tell further tales of arch-villains the Dark Judges and Orlok the Assassin, Anderson was initially a Debbie Harry lookalike with a broad grin and a few disarming one-liners (such as ‘Grud on a greenie’). The character was originally written by the Dredd team of John Wagner and Alan Grant, but from the late 1980s Grant took on the writing of Anderson Psi Division alone and started to develop a much deeper inner path for Cassandra. From explorations of love, death, spirituality and God, through to the origins of human nature, a galaxy-spanning search for self-awareness and a suggestion of having been abused as a child, Cassandra has become arguably the most maturely-profiled and nuanced character in the history of British newsstand comics. She truly is the Barefoot Judge, and long may her pilgrimage of the heart continue.
Watch out below (and in the skies above) for another Dredd-world fan favourite, Marlon Shakespeare aka Chopper, in part four another classic Judge Dredd serial, Midnight Surfer, a precursor to the seminal Oz serial that would explode onto the pages of 2000AD a couple of years later. Sláine and Strontium Dog provide further classic thrills, and this prog’s line-up is completed by a bit of an oddity (which, in 2000AD terms, is actually standard fare): Judge Grexnix, in which a 2000AD reader is transported by Tharg to Mega-City One to try his presumptuous hand at judging.