Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
Top 10 Comic Book Women Who are More than Skin Deep.
Judge Cassandra Anderson
Creator: John Wagner.
Occupation: Mega City Judge.
Source: 2000 AD. Judge Dredd Magazine, Anderson Psi Division.
Quote: Welcome to the inside of your head. It’s kind of empty in here.
British comic book’s featuring Judge Dredd have always been part action adventure and part social satire. A near maniacal future lawman that has the ultimate authority as judge, juror and executioner. A man whose sole stated purpose is to uphold the law. Judge Cassandra Anderson is the yin to Dredd’s yang. With Dread the letter of the law comes before everything else, individual freedom, desires, passions even society, because to him if there is no law there is no society. Anderson is no less dedicated to the law, but the writers are able to combine her devotion with a humanity that allows to the readers to sympathize with what is basically a totalitarian police state. Because she doesn’t just blindly follow orders and sees the possible consequences of a world without the judges.
Anderson humanity though, is seen by some of her peers as a liability, whether or not that is true, it definitely makes her more interesting as a comic book heroine. She has had to make some terrible gut wrenching decisions, including sacrificing herself to stop the otherworldly menace of Judge Death and having to kill an innocent child who was going to be sacrifice to an army of outer world demons. If he had been sacrificed by a group of evil cultist it would have opened a doorway to allow Earth to be invaded by demonic forces. When she shot the potential sacrifice it shut the down the portal protecting the world, but making her a killer. The Justice Department ruled this as necessary act. But unlike Dredd who would have just continued on not letting the killing effect him, Anderson was portrayed as having to live with the consequences of her actions. Making her a stronger and more interesting character than the sometimes wooden and robotic Dredd.
In addition to her humanity, her psionic powers allow the writers to explore areas of the harsh brave new world that they may not be able to get to with just Dredd. Anderson’s psychic power allows them to reach in to a whole world of the supernatural and the super human. From the otherworldly Dark Judges to rouge psis. Also as psychic she cannot use the anti-aging drugs that street judges use, not only is the character ageing in the stories in near real time, she has a series of emotional and physical issues that her other peers can not understand.
Anderson believes in the law, and has even done some treble things to uphold it, including similarly executing criminals, but she is not blind to excess and faults in the system. She rationalizes that a totalitarian society is preferable to the anarchy of the Scorched Earth, but she realizes that judicial system is at best a necessary evil. This was brought home when her friend the empath Judge Corey decided she could not live in the world that she helped create and committed suicide. Despite casting a critical eye on political strata of Mega City One she doesn’t support lowering the city to the level of anarchy outside the future metropolis.
There are many things wrong with the 1995 Judge Dred Movie (and a few things right like the look of the cityscape and the ABC robot), the least of all is that it is a cop buddy movie with Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider, but one of the biggest errors was to leave Anderson out of it.
There are a lot of things good about the 2012 movie Dredd (or Dredd 3D, if you like your movie experiences multidimensional.) And one of the biggest surprised in this grindhouse treasure is Olivia Thirlby as Anderson on her rookie mission with titular judge. With the natural brunette’s hair died blonde she hit the perfect blend of a rookie who has to over come self doubt and future heroine who would eventually rescue the main character. She also captures the humanity that Anderson epitomizes in the comics.
For her humanity and service to her city Judge Anderson deserves to be one the top ten comic book women who are more than skin deep.