Shamballa, always a favourite of mine, gets the Mega Collection treatment this week. The volume starts with Shamballa, the first colour Anderson strip, and includes several others by writer Alan Grant and artist Arthur Ranson.
Starting with this story, Grant takes Anderson, who was always more than the female Dredd anyway, to places he couldn’t take Dredd, developing the character in stories that focus on themes of love and belief. Not the kind of stuff we tend to see in the action-oriented satire of Dredd’s world.
For me though the highlight of this volume is Ranson’s fantastic artwork. Always beautiful, it captures the fantastic as well as the more mundane details of Anderson’s future world. Ranson would be Grant’s primary collaborator on Anderson for several years, with this volume accounting for about half their work together. (I rather hope the Mega Collection will feature the rest at a later date). The only problem that some readers may have with this focus on the Grant/Ranson team, is that it misses a few stories out, such as Childhood’s End. These exclusions won’t result in any serious confusion, but there are jumps in Anderson’s outlook and position between these stories.
As I said, I have a lot of love for this book. Anderson was the first strong, interesting female character I came across in comics and Grant uses her to tell deeper, more interesting tales that show a different side of the world Dredd inhabits. And all throughout this volume he is aided wonderfully by Ranson’s spectacular art.
P.S. The 2000AD Thrill-Cast is well worth listening to. This week’s edition gives a lot of detail on this volume.