Here is more glork about the recent Marvel UK-reviving comics maxxxo-series, Revolutionary War. I’m sort of wishing I’d wrote all this as the comics were released, as I have rapidly lost interest, and fear this yard of weblogs will remain unfinished, like my Gravitation and Eureka Seven ones.
But naw! Let’s engage the dismissive glibness that led me to rethink actually writing about comics, and plough on through this field of waking nightmares.
This post contains spoilers for Death’s Head II, Supersoldiers, Motormouth and Warheads. If that’s even their titles, given that some of the cover names differ from the advertising and indicia. YEEEEAH! Also: let’s consider the inalienable truth that the above variant covers are infinitely preferable to the Udon and Larocca ones, and mourn the fact that I could not find them on the shelves.
REVOLUTIONARY WAR: DEATH’S HEAD II
by Andy Lanning, Alan Cowsill, Nick Roche and Veronica Gandini
That cover’s a bit muddled, eh?
I was sorta psyched for this comic, given my teenage lust for this shitty blue bastard, but had to admit to myself that there’s barely a character there to ‘revive’? He has 106 personalities or thereabouts, so why is the one he mainly uses a sort of blandly sarcastic action movie chump?
Luckily, this comic also features the best Dr. Who character, original Death’s Head, who is at least somewhat droll and has a really charismatic face, and who insults Death’s Head II’s very design.
So there’s that. It was also nice to see DHII’s sidekick (who is pretty much identical to him, personality-wise), ‘Tuck’, now has big glasses and a sort of action jumpsuit, instead of the 90s exploito-thong. Her facial tattoos are still terribly-designed, though. I suppose there’s not much you can do with Tuck? Maybe you could have a McKelvie give her a redesign or something? Dunno.
I don’t know Nick Roche, the artist, but I really like his work here. It’s angular and meaty, with the right amount of cartooning, and a pleasant slight redesign for the Sassy Blue Predator. I like the way this comic looks! The colouring’s not too intrusive, either. None too much of that horrible modern “let’s shade some contours” bullshit. It is bright and serves the images, and Death’s Head II’s legs are consistent (at least I think they are? I’m not actually going to go through the comic and make sure his legs are always the same colour, I’m not the editor. Speaking of which! Got Dark Angel’s surname wrong again, people).
From a Stinking Nostalgia perspective, it was nice to see Dr. Necker, and I enjoyed the Death’s Head History page, with The Dragon’s Claws and Spratt and bloody Phaedra on it (and a hint of Transformer? Nae Sylvester McCoy, though? Lawsuits waiting to happen, in these mystifyingly Who-Loving times, I guess?
It also mentions ‘Tansteele’, a word that made me almost vomit with self-hatred, as it gave me a tiny thrill of recognition, given that it was a place/person/something from a Marvel UK superteam Dark Guard adventure. I don’t want to recognise these things. I am a grown human. Naaaaargh. We Are All Killpower, except instead of being a young boy in a muscled hunk’s body, we are surly teens in the body of a stereotypical ‘comic book guy’, in the body of whatever your body is like (luckily, my body actually is the body of a muscled hunk).
Anyway, none of this hell-memory added to the story (of which there wasn’t really one?), but did give the wretched easy mark “oh my youth” remembero-90s formative year arseholes like me the ‘hit’ the writers intended.
Shite ‘Overkill‘ reference, but.
READERS: How do you ‘hear’ the respective Death’s Head voices? I think DH perhaps sounds like a robot Ian McKellen or some other luvvie, whereas DHII is a horrible sub-Statham.
REVOLUTIONARY WAR: SUPERSOLDIERS
by Rob Williams, Brent Anderson, Tom Palmer and Ruth Redmond
Wow! A comic by Robbie Williams and Brett Anderson! The 90s!
I am fucking hilarious and full of New Jokes.
Oh, who cares about the Supersoldiers, even from a nostalgia perspective? Maybe someone does? Maybe? My only previous exposure to them is seeing their comic in the sadly-no-longer-there 25p bin at the Local Comics Shop (I thought the section was still there recently, accidentally ended up spending £7.50 on comics I didn’t really want), but not buying it.
Anyway! Let’s get Scottish for a minute. This comic and all these comics, they frequently refer to the UK as ‘England’, which I suppose is fair enough as it’s mainly set there. But this one! It is in Scotland, and the opening page still says “leaving Wisdom to warn the other heroes throughout England”.
SMALL NIGGLE, but there y’go. Let’s remember: I Am The Target Audience.
What to say about this comic, though? Ocht, here’s the plot: Supersoldiers are now filming a thing about their lives in the military, in that whole Andy McNab sort of way (you know him, he’s like those people Garth Ennis writes about, but less good). Pete ‘Give me black coffee and Suicide Girls I’m-so-edgy’ Wisdom comes up to hassle them for whatever reason, and then the cannon fodder baddies start fighting them, erupting as they do from Arthur’s Seat (and flying up to the Highlands).
Scotlaaaand. Man, if Arthur’s Seat erupted, some decent pubs’d totally get melted, but then so would some hideous Ya fucks, so y’know. Swings and roundabouts?
Much like the also-Williams-written Knights of Pendragon, there’s a sense of this being a completely throwaway piece of comics bill-paying, and this works in its favour, leading to a couple of decent jokes, and a general air of “this raw material isn’t worth any effort”, which is exactly right. There’s also a bit of Squaddie Pathos, and that is always fun. Hate the military, not the soldiers themselves, remember (mostly)!
I enjoyed Brent Anderson’s art, which had some sturdy Tom Palmer inking (I do like Tom Palmer), with the loose life-drawingy energy of a late-70s superhero title. Coupled with Ruth Redmond’s airy colouring (nice blues!), it had a rather pleasant atmosphere. Once again, there’s not much to the backgrounds in this comic, which was a bit of a letdown, given that I would have liked more of a feeling of place (SCOTLAAAAAND), but, ocht, I don’t begrudge the creative team that. Gie them money, gie them work, preserve the dubious trademarks.
REVOLUTIONARY WAR: MOTORMOUTH
By Glen Dakin, Ronan Cliquet and Ruth Redmond
Oooh, Motormouth, the Marvel UK Tank Girl, and gift to Tumblry “Draw ‘Alternative’ Women With Guns” people everywhere.
I actually really like Motormouth, and was genuinely pleased to see her show up recently (well, a few years ago) in small cameos in the Paul Cornell Comic.
This comic, I genuinely enjoyed! Some nice ideas, an actual sense of place, enough moments of proper melancholy, and the single greatest moment in the whole Revolutionary War thingy.
Awwww! I am a huge fan of this explicitly working class take on modern Motormouth, who is a single mother living in poverty. Still, though, much of this story seems a direct lift from Decent Film Attack the Block (sadly, a film in which none of the white main characters die), but I dunno, this could just be down to the language and situations used being, I don’t know, authentic or something? There’s a bit of self-critique regarding old people trying to sound ‘street’, too, so that’s good, and, I assume, intentional?
It’s a neat, relatable setting, anyway, and I liked the idea of a tuff street gang being made up of all the people who were too crap to be in the other gangs? A bit Kirby, like. I also smirked at the idea of someone growing giant Savage Land plants in their flat. Ken, like weed, eh no?
A.I.M.Bay is a nice idea, too. An auction site for mad scientist techno-gadgentry! I would use it just to buy their fancy hats. Like in Granto’s Nuxmen? I think?
The art was clean and did the job? Has a good ‘modern 2000AD’ feel, which fit the story?
Ocht, I’d read more of this comic, I would. Social commentary, superhero fun, the actual sadness of nostalgia.
Plus, the Union Jack’s burning on the front cover. It should have been doing that from the start! I’m with Flag-Smasher.
REVOLUTIONARY WAR: WARHEADS
By Andy Lanning, Alan Cowsill, Gary Erskine and Yel Zamor
Warheads! The plot of Stargate, but the soldiers work for an evil corporation instead of er, The US Army (that most evil of corporations). With a “Man Fucks Gun” edge.
I like the Warheads. Their techno-magic trappings are visually and conceptually interesting, there’s a whole ‘war is hell’ angle, and there are a lot of stories you could tell with them.
This is one of those stories, but it’s not really a great one, is it?
Gary Erskine’s art keeps your interest, though, as it is detailed, enthusiastic, and it feels like he has respect for these characters, and wants to do them justice one last time. I assume he likes drawing filigree, as well, as the Warheads armour is packed with it, and it’s a design element I like, maintaining the Magic/Science/Old/New angle. The colouring’s nice, as well, lurid purples and greens, like Indigo Prime or that. Oily and sour.
There’s a huge wad of new (I think?) Warhead Troops who have strong, individual designs ((like fancy action figures) , and I am especially fond of the one who looks as if he was recruited from the Spanish Crusades. There’s illustrative joy going on here, which sometimes approaches the mystical realm of Thrill-Power, instead of Killpower.
It gives a sense of a wider universe, of intriguing story potential, and a whole big corporate setup that could be developed. this is all window dressing here, really, which is fair enough given that it’s a done-in-one.
THOUGH IT ISN’T REALLY. Sadly, unlike the other comics, it is heavily concerned with the completely unengaging Revolutionary War storyline, and as such it’s mainly just some stuff happening to set up the final bookend issue.
Ocht, it is a braw book, right enough, and it hinted at the idea a Warheads comic could be really fucking good sci-fi, but well, this one doesn’t quite get there.
Pretty sure the ‘soldiers trapped in hell’ plot’s recently been done by Lanning in New Mutants, as well?
But yeah, I suppose I could say I am not unhappy to have read this?
Vasquez + Ripley + Big Sword will never not be funny and ridiculous, when played straight.
NEXT TIME: Revolutionary War Omega