THE FIVE TYPES OF TWIST ENDING
Back in May, when I did a talk at the Bristol Comic Expo - namely, My Future Shock Hell: Breaking Into 2000 AD (And What I Learned While Doing It) - I concluded with a promise that I’d post some thoughts on twist endings. Not only those that occur in 2000 AD’s FUTURE SHOCKS, but in pretty much every form of storytelling there is, from short stories to screenplays. So here’s a quick bit of study on what twists are, how they work, and how to identify the five different types
A twist is a moment of revelation within a story that throws into question all that’s gone before. Often appearing at the conclusion of a story, it’s essentially a specific type of action or ‘beat’. Aristotle called it the ‘peripeteia’ (variously translated as ‘reversal’ or ‘sudden change’), referring both to the sudden downturn in the protagonist’s fortunes that occurs in tragedy (such as Oedipus’ realisation that he’s married his mum) and the sudden change for the good in comedy (such as the lovesick Duke Orsino in TWELFTH NIGHT realising that his favourite page-boy is actually a girl in disguise).
Whether for good or ill, the peripeteia means an abrupt reversal in the protagonist's circumstances. Aristotle pointed out that the reversal occurs in conjunction with ‘anagnorisis’ (variously translated as ‘discovery’ or ‘recognition’), the actual moment at which the protagonist uncovers a hitherto unknown piece of information. In other words, it’s that bit in the movie when the main character realises they’ve just murdered their dad, married their mum, or that they were a ghost the whole time. This is also the point at which the character might fall to their knees yelling, ‘Nooooooooo!’ – and it’ll probably be raining.
The peripeteia or reversal – let’s call it the ‘twist’ from now on – can take place at any point within a story – Robert Rodriguez’ vampire caper FROM DUSK ‘TIL DAWN is a great example of a twist that takes place halfway through a story – although these notes focus mainly on those twists that appear at the last minute and towards which the entire narrative has been building.
A twist focuses on an aspect of the story (a character’s identity, motive, perception, location, an achievement or a moment left to chance). The twist will then turn that aspect on its head and reveal some kind of opposite of the most dramatic, comedic, ironic or horrific kind. For example, wife becomes mother (OEDIPUS REX), boy becomes girl (TWELFTH NIGHT), the living become dead (THE SIXTH SENSE), bikers become vampires (FROM DUSK ‘TIL DAWN).
Now here’s where the writer’s skill really comes into play, and if you’re constructing a four-page FUTURE SHOCK for 2000 AD here’s where you really earn your keep…
The run-up to the twist itself must be in plain sight throughout and yet disguised so that the reader never suspects they are being duped!
In order to surprise the reader, a twist must be founded on a basic assumption (on the part of both the reader and the main character) that things are exactly what they appear to be throughout the story. The writer must casually confirm that assumption throughout while leaving enough room to reveal at the climax that that assumption is, in fact, entirely false. This is why the mere knowledge that a story is going to deliver a twist can kill that story before it even starts. This is because the reader or viewer will be alert to the slightest clue from the very beginning. (2000 AD’s FUTURE SHOCKS may as well be re-titled TWIST AHOY! – another reason why they’re so damn hard to write.) The most effective twists feel like they came out of nowhere, but will have been carefully foreshadowed throughout. Re-watch GAME OF THRONES and you’ll slap yourself for not noticing all that skilful foreshadowing as clear as day.
A twist must therefore be built on certainty not ambiguity. The reader must be led to assume that something is a fact (be it a character’s identity, their motive, their perception of the world, etc), before the twist kicks in and reveals the opposite. You need to establish this assumption/certainty within your story before you can undermine it. You must first carefully lay down your rug and invite the unsuspecting reader onto it before you can whip it out from under them. Rabbit-out-of-a-hat twists with no foreshadowing whatsoever are cheating.
Let the reader assume things they never had any reason to suspect and yet form the perfect solution to the question posed by the story’s premise. For example, in the micro-short story THE RETICENCE OF LADY ANN by Saki, a husband has no idea why his wife has suddenly stopped speaking to him. The question posed by the story becomes: what’s her problem? Is she deaf? What has her husband done to offend her? What is the reason for ‘the reticence of Lady Ann’? It turns out (spoiler!) that Lady Ann is sat in her chair stone dead! The reader never had any reason to question whether or not Lady Ann might be alive. Nevertheless, her being dead concludes the story’s premise both logically and believably. And that’s what you’re after: the unexpected yet perfectly logical.
An element of transgression in a reversal, taboo subjects such as incest, cannibalism or infanticide, can lend an extra level of horror to a twist story.
The five types of twist ending (spoilers, but from nothing later than 2009)
1.) Reversal of Identity
Someone turns out to be someone else (a parent, sibling, son, daughter, a murderer, a mistress) or something else (a ghost, a shapeshifting monster). The twist-character is revealed to be either related to another character (e.g. lover becomes mother - be mindful, though, that this 'I am your father/long-lost brother' stuff can be a bit of a soap opera cliché) or is revealed to have been their own physical opposite all along (e.g. a man is revealed to be a woman).
The character who discovers the reversal usually does so at the same time as the audience in order to achieve maximum shock. In OEDIPUS REX, the woman whom Oedipus assumed was his lover was in fact his mother. In OLD BOY, the woman whom the main character assumed was his lover was in fact his daughter. In THE CRYING GAME, the hero assumes that Jaye Davidson’s character is a woman, when in fact he is a man. In FIGHT CLUB, we assume Brad Pitt’s character exists, when in fact he is entirely imagined. In THE SIXTH SENSE, we assume that Bruce Willis’s character is alive, when in fact he is dead. In THE OTHERS, we assume that Nicole Kidman’s character is alive and haunted by ghosts, when in fact she is a ghost haunted by the living.
2.) Reversal of Motive
Gee, I thought he was after THIS, but he’s really after THAT. Another straightforward twist, this one often found in crime stories, where deceit abounds. A Reversal of Motive occurs when a character’s apparent line of action is finally revealed to be, in fact, a cunning deception; their motivation is the opposite of what was previously assumed. Although similar to a Reversal of Identity, a Reversal of Motive differs in its focus on a psychological rather than physical deception. In EASTERN PROMISES, Viggo Mortensen’s character appears to be a gangster who wants to help fulfil the goals of the Russian mob; he’s really an undercover cop who wants to bring the mob to justice. In SEVEN, a serial killer appears to be helping the police find his last two victims; he really wants to reveal that those victims are the cop’s wife and the killer himself. In LES DIABOLIQUES, a mistress appears to have murdered her lover, when in fact her lover is alive and the two of them are engaged in an elaborate scam.
3.) Reversal of Perception
This is the classic case of the scales falling from a character’s eyes as he or she beholds the world and all its schemes as they truly are. This is a common twist in sci-fi stories where it employs what critic Peter Nicholls calls the ‘conceptual breakthrough’, a perceptual shift that occurs when the hero realises the world is actually bigger/smaller/crazier/more prosaic than was previously thought. “The structure of such stories is often that of a quest in which an intellectual nonconformist questions apparent certainties,” – and discovering either the world’s true identity or that their knowledge of the world is not so much wrong as incomplete. In this way, Nichols argues, all sci-fi is essentially Faustian.
Reversals of Perception are often achieved by the writer pulling back to get the whole picture. The inner workings of the world and its schemes are thus revealed and the enlightened character understands to either their dismay or delight (though usually to their dismay) just how and where they rank in the new order of things.
Reversals of Perception can be identified by location. In PLANET OF THE APES, Charlton Heston realises that he hasn’t crash-landed on an alien planet, but on earth in the far future.
In the stories UNIVERSE by Robert Heinlein, NON-STOP by Brian Aldiss and CAPTIVE UNIVERSE by Harry Harrison, the world turns out to be a generation starship. In OUTSIDE by Aldiss, a suburban house turns out to be an experimental laboratory in which shapeshifting aliens are incarcerated. (These are all Nicolls’ examples.)
In the short story AN OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE by Ambrose Bierce, a condemned man realises that the world of freedom into which he’s escaped is merely a consolatory fantasy he’s concocted as he chokes to death on the gallows. In the TWILIGHT ZONE episode WHERE IS EVERYBODY? an amnesiac wanders an empty town believing himself to be the last man in earth, before waking to find himself inside an isolation tank as part of a military experiment.
Watch out for that dreaded Reversal of Perception that concludes ‘It was all a dream!’ If you really must attempt one of these twists – many ‘virtual reality prison’ stories are themselves a tired variation – then at least ensure the ending serves as some kind of thematic punchline, that the protagonist has learned something of their own volition and that the journey to reach that ending was worth taking regardless. Or else you’re essentially throwing the reader’s investment in your story back in their face.
4.) Reversal of Fortune
These occur through no fault of the character’s own and often result from some kind of accident, an honest mistake or misunderstanding, or an ironic turn of luck. Either way, capricious Fate has the final say (sometimes for the better, but usually for the worse). This reversal can be tricky to pull off, as it requires a certain amount of deux ex machina, a sense of the author contriving events in order to make the story work. Therefore, such twists must take especial care to be believable, even to the point of being mundane. We’ve all returned the wrong DVD to the video store (back in the day), mistaken one person for someone else, left something valuable on the bus, etc. If you can’t imagine your reader making the same mistake or having the same amount of bad luck as your character, then it probably won’t work in your story. Pixar story artist Emma Coats offers wise words in this regard: “Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.”
In a Reversal of Fortune, the twist is located within the events of the plot itself rather than embodied by a person or place or dramatized by a motive. Instead of resolving a character’s objective in the third act, a Reversal of Fortune typically returns the character to the unhappy state of flux in which they set out in act one. The twist is the kicker that either prevents the hero from achieving their objective or else gives them an unexpected helping hand.
This twist is common in horror stories where it’s conducive to the Big Scary Idea that Fate is out to get you. Like poor Burgess Meredith in the TWILIGHT ZONE episode TIME ENOUGH AT LAST, characters on the receiving end of a Reversal of Fortune will often feel like whimpering, “That’s not fair… That’s not fair at all.” In DRAG ME TO HELL, the heroine unwittingly mistakes a useless coin for the magic button she needs to negate a deadly curse. In LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, the hero defiantly saves the life of a man ‘fated’ to die, only to be forced to have him executed later on. In TIME ENOUGH AT LAST, an unhappy bookworm survives a nuclear apocalypse and finally has all the books he ever wanted – then accidentally breaks his reading glasses.
5.) Reversal of Fulfilment
What one character achieves another character takes away at the very last minute! One character will finally get what they’ve been after throughout the story, only to have it snatched away by an opposing character (often their opposite – husband/wife, father/son, poor/rich). Unlike a Reversal of Fortune, in which Fate steps in to either impede or aid a character in achieving their objective, a Reversal of Fulfilment occurs as a result of BOTH characters fulfilling their opposite objectives relatively unhindered.
The twist cannot come about without one of the characters having previously achieved their objective. For example, Roald Dahl wrote a story about a greenhouse (I can’t find the title) in which a loving wife and an abusive husband both fulfil their opposing goals. The husband succeeds in murdering his wife and burying her body under the greenhouse. But the faithful wife has proved her love by previously arranging for his beloved garden to be renovated, thus uncovering his crime. One fulfilment is cancelled out by another.
Fulfilment-thwarted characters don't realise the depth of the other character’s cunning, stupidity, love, enmity, etc. In the short story MAMMON AND THE ARCHER by O Henry, a son wagers his father that love will always triumph over money. The son proves his point by winning the hand of the girl he loves, but it turns out the father used his wealth in order to contrive the circumstances of the engagement in the first place. In Henry’s THE GIFTS OF THE MAGI, two penniless lovers sell their own most valuable possession in order to buy each other a Christmas present. The girl sells her beautiful hair; the boy sells his pocket watch. The lovers open their presents on Christmas Day only to find he has bought her a comb and she has bought him a watch fob. In the TWILIGHT ZONE episode MR DENTON ON DOOMSDAY, a failed gunslinger takes a potion that will allow him to be the quickest on the draw, only to find that his opponent has bought the same potion.
What DIDN’T you know the whole time?
When identifying a twist, consider the vessel of the twist itself. What is the thing that is reversed?
· A character’s BODY? (‘I thought you were a woman, but really you’re a man!’)
· A character’s OBJECTIVE? (‘I thought you loved me, but really you’re out to kill me!’)
· A character’s LOCATION? (‘I thought this was Heaven, but really it’s Hell!’)
· A glitch in a sequence of EVENTS? (‘Back off. I’ve had a gun in my pocket this whole time. Oh no, it’s really the banana I forgot to eat for lunch!’)
· The OBJECTIVES OF TWO OPPOSING CHARACTERS. (‘And so I’ve proved that age will always triumph over youth.’ ‘That’s what you think, gramps!’)
In stories containing the first three reversals (Identity, Motive and Perception) the main character (and the reader) is ignorant of the fact that their knowledge is incomplete, that a deception is taking place or that an event has already occurred. Bruce Willis was a ghost ALL ALONG; Viggo Mortensen was working for the cops ALL ALONG; Charlton Heston was on Earth ALL ALONG. Here, the twist occurs in the form of a psychological revelation; the truth is finally revealed. This might require a little backstory in order to explain how it came about, so beware: backstory is exposition and always requires a decent burial.
The opposite is true of Reversals of Fortune and Fulfilment. Here, the main character’s knowledge is complete; no deception is taking place and no event has yet occurred. When the twist does occur, it takes the form of a physical (not psychological) event. Of course, such events require foreshadowing, some suggestion that this sort of accident or mistake is actually possible within the story and therefore believable. The twist at the end of DRAG ME TO HELL avoids pulling a rabbit out of a hat by having the heroine’s boyfriend collect coins; an early scene involves talk of a particular rarity that she will end up mistaking for her magic button. In LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, the hero’s arrogant assertion that ‘nothing is written’ is seemingly refuted later on by Fate itself.
Short stories are a natural fit for twists as the build-up doesn’t have to be sustained for too long. Go read Saki, O Henry or Roald Dahl and you’ll find plenty of examples of exquisite narrative mousetraps in which the twist is usually delivered swiftly, understatedly and at the last possible moment.
These findings are based on what I’ve read, what I’ve studied and what I’ve written. They’ve certainly helped me, but they may not help you. The point is, I’m not selling a formula for writing twist stories here. As with any theory about writing, if it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. Go make it something that does.
I believe there are two sides of us at work when we’re writing: Writer-you and Editor-you. Writer-you is great at seizing cool ideas and blazing through drafts. Editor-you is the intellectual who coolly regards what Writer-you has created and imposes order upon the chaos so the material can actually function as a story. The balancing act of writing is knowing when to let one take over from the other. It’s kinda like a dance or a Tai Chi routine. Instinct and thought, chaos and order, writer and editor. You’re constantly switching between the two; sometimes for a stretch, sometimes for a second.
The theory on twists I’m suggesting here is for Editor-you only. Writer-you is a simple beast that shouldn’t be distracted when in the throes of creating a first draft or coming up with wild ideas. However, Editor-you can sometimes use a little help in identifying what they’re trying to do and how they might do it better. So, if Writer-you has lost their way mid-draft and can’t see the woods for all those stupid trees, let Editor-you take the wheel for a while. Let them check their map, suggest a new direction, and get Writer-you back on the road as soon as possible. The two can’t steer at once, in the same way you can’t drive with a roadmap pasted to the windshield.
Artwork by Ben Willsher
FIVE REASONS WHY WE ♥ JUDGE ANDERSON
Why Cassandra Anderson is way more than just Judge Dredd’s sidekick; she’s the heart and soul of 2000 AD
I first met her in 1991 within the pages of JUDGEMENT ON GOTHAM and it was love at first sight. Her first scene had her answer the phone before it rang. What a perfect introduction to Mega-City One’s premier psychic. It was the promise of a bust-up between Judge Dredd and Batman that made me buy the book, but it was the supporting character of Judge Cassandra Anderson that had me hooked. Written by her co-creator John Wagner and long-time chronicler Alan Grant, she brought a goofball energy to every scene in which she appeared. Superstar artist Simon Bisley was also tuned into Anderson's eccentric frequency and drew her more like a musclebound Tori Amos than the chic Debbie Harry lookalike she had been under Brian Bolland, who drew her first appearance 11 years before in Prog #150.
Smitten, I started tracking down the books and annuals that collected her older adventures while discovering her more recent and harder-edged psychotropic epics, which were then running in the JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE. Reading all these alongside Judge Dredd’s regular adventures in 2000 AD, I felt that Judge Anderson had become almost as much a part of the DREDD saga as Dredd himself. Her continued adventures in comics (she’s just landed her own American series published by IDW), her appearance in the 2012 DREDD movie (essayed with twitchy assurance by Olivia Thirlby), and the character’s various cosplay incarnations at comics conventions around the world testify to Judge Anderson’s continued – if not increased – popularity. But Anderson is more than just a pin-up for the 2000 AD set. And she’s more than just Dredd’s sidekick or protégée. She’s every inch the iconic lawman’s equal and here’s why:
1.) SHE’S HUMAN
Dredd is one of those characters who relies on the presence of other characters to really bring out the best in him. Frankly, every Judge in Mega-City One dresses like him, is trained like him and wants to put away criminals. Dredd needs other characters in there to register the difference, to show just how cynical he is, just how terrifying and ruthlessly logical he is, and just how far he’ll go to uphold the law. How many other Judges would nuke half-a-billion men, women and children without pausing to wonder whether they were doing the right thing? But without the right kind of situation to dramatize the subtle extremes of his character, Dredd is just another bully with a gun. Getting Dredd ‘right’ is a feat that’s been mythologised by fandom over the years, but it can be a tough writing gig nonetheless.
Judge Anderson on the other hand is a writer’s dream. She’s a dynamo of emotions and conflicts and abilities and doesn’t need other characters around to bring her to life. While Dredd is a monolithic embodiment of ‘justice’ – you may as well try and relate to your refrigerator – Cassie appears driven by a sense of duty to redeem the city, to prove good exists despite the odds and that the people are worth fighting for – not because the law says she MUST but because she WANTS to. At the climax of the 1991 story ENGRAM she ponders the fate of the powerful psychic infant she has just rescued. “The world’s a cesspit,” she says. “I dunno what one kid can do to clean it up… Even one with power like that. But maybe – just maybe – a little hope is all we need.”
It’s only in Anderson’s weaker stories that she succumbs to angst and mopeyness; her best stories use this inner turmoil as a rocket-fuel motive for battling the worst the city can throw at her. She’s our avatar in the sprawling madhouse of Mega-City One, the perfect character through whom we can view the horrors and delights that dwell there. Dredd may show you what life is like in the Big Meg, but Cassie can really make you feel it.
2.) SHE’S FUNNY
Although Anderson’s later stories tend towards sombre psychodrama, I always preferred her as the whip-smart wisecracker she was in her early stories. Her time-travel team-up with Dredd in CITY OF THE DAMNED (1984) and the first two ANDERSON: PSI DIVISION stories REVENGE (a.k.a. FOUR DARK JUDGES; 1985) and THE POSSESSED (1986) feature Anderson at her most likeable.
It’s always a joy seeing characters poke fun at the parental seriousness of the Justice Department and Anderson takes her colleagues’ tolerance for the quirks of Psi-Division to the absolute limit. She insists on calling an irate Chief Judge “CJ” then “Baby” (she had the hip patter of an off-duty rock star back then) and treats Dredd himself like an endearingly cranky uncle. (I love that panel in JUDGEMENT ON GOTHAM where she sticks her fingers in her ears as Dredd bellows at a suspect.)
In these stories Anderson is breezy, cheerful and expressive. In other words, she’s the perfect foil and partner for Dredd, who remains as resolute as a tombstone. There’s a lovely little panel in her debut story JUDGE DEATH (1980) where she swaggers into a mortuary to perform a post-mortem exam and reminds Dredd that you can’t hide secrets from a telepath. “I have no guilty secrets,” snorts Dredd. Anderson grins enigmatically.
THE POSSESSED is probably my favourite ‘fun Anderson’ story. Called in to deal with a case of demonic possession, Anderson finds the host’s head has been magically twisted into something resembling a pile of eyes and chewing gum by a demon who calls himself Gargarax. “Sounds like some kind of mouthwash,” says Anderson, who foregoes a lengthy exorcism ritual in favour of punching the patient’s lights out. She later ventures into a demonic realm where she is heckled by stone gargoyles. “Wheeeep-Wheeeooo! What’s the rush, gorgeous?” Quite why these spirits of the netherworld speak like Brooklyn construction workers is anybody’s guess, but Anderson is having none of it. When told “No admittance, lady,” her response is brief and to the point: “HI-EX!”
(Writing this paragraph has made me realise that if I could pick a favourite Anderson artist it would probably be Brett Ewins, whose simple, confident lines always put a palpable strut in Anderson’s step. However, nostalgia may be at work here. I was big on Games Workshop in the ‘80s/’90s and loved Ewins’ artwork from the BLOOD BOWL board game and this bizarre Chaoswarrior strip he did for the CITADEL COMPENDIUM called KALEB DAARK.)
3.) SHE’S PSYCHIC
What must THAT be like? To have the ability to tune into the thoughts of someone else and hear what they think of you as plainly as if they were telling you to your face? Never mind the psychos and criminals. You don't need to be psychic to know they despise you. Never mind the citizens and all that avalanche-of-pain stuff. You hear that all the time. What about those closest to you, your superiors, colleagues and friends – the people you rely on to do your job and reassure you that you’re doing the right thing? The people who have the strongest influence on you as a human being. They may be telling you that you’re too full of yourself. That you’re too cocky, or maybe even crazy, and that one day it will get the better of you. Maybe they don’t care enough to have any kind of opinion about you at all, except perhaps how hot you look in that uniform.
What kind of human being could possibly carry the weight of all that ghastly truth and still think people were worth a damn? How powerful would that person’s mind have to be to not lose themselves in the maelstrom? In terms of strength of character or force of personality, Anderson is pretty much a Hercules. When the Devil himself rocked up at the gates of Mega-City One in SATAN (1995) and started giving it the big metaphysical I-Am – I’m a-billion-years-old; if you could’ve seen the things I’ve seen; blah, blah, blah – no wonder Anderson literally blew his mind like a pumpkin full of firecrackers.
4.) SHE KICKS ASS
I don’t want to start banging on about the whole ‘strong female character’ thing. I’ll let Sophia McDougall’s excellent piece in The New Statesman do it for me. As far as I’m concerned, ‘strong’ in this context should mean ‘well-written’. Then you take the word ‘female’ out of that phrase and you’re left with what every story needs, regardless of gender: ‘well-written characters’. Anderson’s oft-exploited sexiness is part of the package and that’s fine, so long as that aspect doesn’t exist at the expense of all else.
So anyway, as a comic book heroine Judge Anderson is up there with Wonder Woman and Red Sonja. She’s an accomplished Judge who has survived over two decades on the lethal streets of Mega-City One and she’s gone toe-to-talon several times with the Dreddverse’s number-one superfiend Judge Death. How does she like to relax? By kicking the crap out of hapless street punks in her spare time. “Sometimes the only way to escape the pain in your brain is to pass it on to some other creep.” Well, if they’re dumb enough to break the law in the presence of a Judge, even if she’s off-duty.
For all her bleeding-heart storylines, it’s easy to forget that Anderson can also be ruthless in the execution of her duties. Lest we forget that she not only volunteered to join Dredd’s commando unit sent to wipe out East-Meg One during the Apocalypse War, she also gave Dredd the codes required to do it! But for another example of courage and warrior spirit I’ll return to THE POSSESSED, in which she faces a demonic horde armed with nothing but a boot knife and a crutch for her broken leg. “Okay!” she snarls. “Who’s first?”
5.) SHE’S NOT PERFECT
Judge Anderson screws up from time to time. Quite a bit actually. She’s also taken some pretty strange sidesteps during her career. Remember that time she gave up being a Judge and went on a sort of gap year across the universe? At one point she was having acid visions in the desert with help from a buxom, bongo-playing lady shaman. (Well, it was the '90s.) She also seems weirdly prone to winding up in a coma. She’s clearly no superwoman; at times it’s hard to tell if she’s even sane. But heroes need quirks and vulnerabilities – DIE HARD wouldn’t be half as thrilling if John McClane were bulletproof. For me, Anderson’s imperfections make her even more appealing.
Much has been made of the fact that Anderson, as a Psi Judge, cannot take the same rejuvenation treatments as street Judges and must therefore age like everyone else. How stringently this rule is upheld in the comics is debatable, but, really, who cares? I’m more interested in seeing how her personality is visualised by different artists. She’s callow and intense in the early Arthur Ransom stories; airy and refined under David Roach; supple and sensual under Boo Cook; mature and troubled under Mike Dowling. Unlike Dredd – an Easter Island head with a cool helmet – Anderson never hides her face, nor the emotions that play there. She’s a character who can reward artists just as much as writers and, of course, readers.
Imperfection and variety make for great storytelling, just as the foibles of modern life make for great satirical sci-fi. This is why, for me, Judge Anderson – arguably the most human character in 2000 AD’s flagship series – is the soul of JUDGE DREDD if not 2000 AD itself.
1.) JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES 03 and THE COMPLETE CASE FILES 05
CASE FILES 03 contains Anderson’s debut story JUDGE DEATH by John Wagner and Brian Bolland. CASE FILES 05 features the sequel DEATH LIVES by Wagner, Alan Grant and Bolland. This was Anderson and Dredd’s first proper team-up – “Gaze into the fist of Dredd,” and all that.
2.) JUDGE ANDERSON: THE PSI FILES VOLUME 01
The cream of the early stories, including THE POSSESSED and HOUR OF THE WOLF, as well as a couple of hard-to-find one-shots from the 2000 AD annuals and specials, among them LEVIATHAN’S FAREWELL, a pivotal story in the evolution of Anderson’s character.
3.) JUDGEMENT ON GOTHAM (included in THE BATMAN JUDGE DREDD COLLECTION) – Bats teams up with Dredd and Anderson to take down Judge Death, the Scarecrow and the Mean Machine. One of my all-time favourite Dredd stories.
4.) JUDGE DREDD: ANDERSON, PSI-DIVISION
The new series from IDW, written by 2000 AD’s own editor Matt Smith with art by Carl Critchlow. It all starts with Anderson awaking from an unusually strong vision of an attack on the Megapolitan Museum showcasing artefacts excavated from the Cursed Earth…
5.) JUDGE ANDERSON: HEARTBREAKER
By, erm… me! This one’s an e-book novella in which Anderson is on the trail of a telepathic killer who has been picking off victims via ‘Meet Market’, Mega-City One’s biggest – and trashiest – dating agency. Now she must go undercover and bring the murderer to justice before the citizens attending this week’s Valentine’s Parade find themselves smitten with something even deadlier than love. It’s available on Kindle now from Amazon UK and Amazon USA, the Apple iBook store, Kobo, Nook and the 2000 AD e-book store.