Mac's Books: The Guys, Malevolents, Graveyard Orbit and World3
By Olly MacNamee
A monthly review spotlighting the best titles the industry has to offer. Well, has to offer meanyway. Other comicbook titles are available.
The Guys (Hardline Comics)
Writer/Artist: Richard Carrington
With the start of the comic con season in the Midlands, and around the rest of the UK for that matter, I thought this was a good time to take a look at this four issue series, created by Richard Carrington and who will, no doubt, be appearing at many of the cons over the course of this year.
Taking the well worn traits of the superhero origin, in this case 'science gone wrong', Carrington introduces us to his protagonists, Eddie, Bill, Chris, Vinnie and Al, who are no more than a bunch of no-hope students struggling with money worries and more than ready to take the chance at making a fast buck in volunteering for a nefarious experiment that unleashes super powers within four of them. All of them, but Vinnie, that is. Enter the stereotypically bald mad scientist, Professor Powers, who is more than happy to make use of them for his own gains. Clearly a parody of this well trodden genre, Carrington's would-be heroes are losers through and through and so are their enemies, with monikers like The Prober ("What, are you the world's first pervert robot?") and Mind-O, a telephone salesman who gains the ability to take control of people's minds and, like other characters in the book, keeps his goals unexceptional and bland. With all that power, his biggest dream is to wonder where Cameron Diaz lives.
They can be petty-minded and argumentative, and certainly foul-mouthed too, but the emphasis here is on the humour. Like Fawlty Towers, each time we have a longshot of their shared house, the sign changes to offer the reader a different gag. The villains are 2 dimensional purposefully, and therefore at odds with the reality of The Guys and their mundanity, who cannot help but laugh when one of their crew has the audacity to suggest a superhero name, Captain Fantastic, only to be laughed at by his mates.
With more issues promised, this is a title that grows in confidence and storytelling ability with each new issue and certainly worth looking at should you see Carrington at any cons you are intending to visit here in the UK. But, be warned, this isn't for younger readers.
Malevolents No.1 (Geeky Comics)
Writer: Thom Burgess
Artist: Joe Becci
Another regular exhibitor across the UK, are Geeky Comics and their related titles. One that you might want to look out for, should you be attending any cons this year in the UK, is Malevolent No.1. This is a B&W horror comic that is suitably spooky, with Joe Becci's pencil art creating a shadowy, grim, richly textured setting in which we are invited to witness a group of teenagers attempting a seance in an appropriately dilapidated and derelict town house with a past. A past that includes an insane young man, Maggs, supposedly locked away from society because of his violent outbreaks and now haunting the house in the present day.
Burgess's story is presented through one of the would-be ghostbusters, who regales the group, and therefore us the reader too, with the haunting story of Maggs and a previous attempt to summon him forth, giving us a backstory that only goes to frighten the group further. Billy, a local boy, had previously won a bet by spending time at the house, accompanied by a ouija board, as you do. If he thought it would be as easy as that, he was very much mistaken. After all, has anyone ever entered a haunted house and it's gone well?
An M R James kind of tale, but in comic form and available from the Geeky Comics website here.
Read it at your peril! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!
Graveyard Orbit No. 2 (Graveyard Orbit)
Writer: John-Paul Kamath
Artist: Drew Moss
A fast-paced read, Graveyard Orbit No. 2 is a horror title that aims to tell a different spooky story with each issue. This one sees the genres of crime-noir and horror meet head on as Detective Jane Silver investigates a mysterious murder following the disappearance of three local teenagers in a town that has seen better days. Of course, this is no average homicide, with local law enforcement having already lost five decent officers, beheaded by whatever lurks within the big top of terror.
The travelling carnival holds within its canvassed crevices an array of dangers, werewolves, phantasms and the like, all of which our hero, Silver, has to navigate through in order to attempt to save the two still-missing teens. To do that, surely the Detective must have an affinity with the supernatural? Well, to find out for yourself, you may want to pick up a copy.
The writing of John-Paul Kamath is confident and quickly fleshes out the main characters, Jane and her partner, Sykes, and paints a picture of a run down, out-of-luck town that could clamours for any form of entertainment, even if it has to be the travelling circus within just a few pages.
The art by Drew Moss is reminiscent of William Messner-Loebs back when he was an artist on the DC horror anthology title Wasteland (I still miss that title) back in the day, and that's not a bad thing as it suits the genre. Detective Silver, with her trench coat and smoking, is a little too similar to Constantine in both wardrobe and language for my liking, but this is a minor quibble in what is an entertaining, humorous done-in-one horror story well worth a punt. Find your copy here.
World 3 No. 1 (Fly Comics)
Writer: Neil Sambrook
Artist: Ari Syahrazad and Earl Geier
Offering three tales of post-apocalyptic war, World 3 is set in a not-too-distant future where a huge Electro Magnetic pulse has wiped out most electrical devices and in the aftermath, a war has broken out. A war where the enemy is not revealed, a war that is both low and high tech, with one story introducing solar powered soldierbots called LAWS (Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems), once again illustrating that our over-reliance on technology could very well be the undoing of us. A war that seems to be never ending.
The three strips, all written by Neil Sambrook, offer up gritty, violent stories that could be set in any war, well, the first two strips at least. 'The Notepad' follows the travails of an ordinary notepad as it swaps hands and keeps intimate thoughts within its pages that act as a record in a world in which paper has once again become a prominent form of communication. 'Deserter' illustrates what becomes of those who chose to walk their own path and look for an alternative to war, as a military doctor decides he was put on this Earth to save lives, not helping in other's being dispatched from theirs. 'LAWS' gives us the only story that is firmly rooted in science fiction as emotionless purpose built 'bots march into war undeterred, just following orders, like so many human soldiers before them.
Syahrazad and Geier compliment each other's artwork, giving the comic a cohesive, clear look across the three stories and while they are not connected narratively, they are part of a world Sambrook is only just beginning to explore. We don't need to know who the enemy is, as it adds to the futility of war. Soldiers – and robots – following orders slavishly, and suffering should they chose any other way but to fight. A solid first issue for any of you out there who enjoy battlefield ready comics.
Look for World3 on the Fly Comics website here.
That's it for this month. Be seeing you.
Olly MacNamee teaches English and Media, for his sins, in a school somewhere in Birmingham. Some days, even he doesn't know where it is. Follow him on twitter @ollymacnamee or read about his exploits at email@example.com. Or don't. You can also read his articles fairly frequently at www.bleedingcool.com too.
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