Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ABC Warriors - The Solo Missions

Picked this up at the 2000AD stand at London Super Comic Con. Well I was asking them to sign stuff and do interviews so it seemed rude not to buy something.

Most of the ABC Warriors stories happened while I was not reading 2000AD so I'm playing catch-up. The recent stuff in the Prog has confused me with Clint Langley's varying art styles but I'm starting to get to grips with it. And here we have four stories featuring Hammerstein, Blackblood, Joe Pineapples and Deadlock dating from 1984 to 2000.

Cover is by Pye Parr and is probably the best thing I've seen of his. I love how he manages to work in references to all the other Warriors. His blog details how he produced this stunning piece of comic art.

Hammerstein: Red Planet Blues by Alan Moore, Steve Dillon, John Higgins and Steve Potter.
This was in the 1985 annual which means it was published for Christmas 1984. At that point Alan Moore was just getting into his stride on Swamp Thing and Watchmen was two years in the future. Yet here we have some foreshadowing of what is to come with a melancholy figure sitting on Mars staring at the red sand. There's even a strange spiky structure that appears to be made of glass.

Moore's recent works have left me cold so it was an unexpected thrill to read this short piece from back in the day when he didn't think that writing simple but effective comic stories was beneath him. It's a tale about the early days of human colonists on Mars and their encounter with an indigenous life form that recalls Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles. Moore manages to do more in these seven pages than he has achieved in the last three League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books put together. Art by Steve Dillon and beautiful colours by John Higgins make this story a little gem from the golden age of 2000AD.

Blackblood: Dishonourable Discharge by Pat Mills, Kev Walker and Annie Parkhouse
Another quickie, this time from 1992 explains how Blackblood was programmed to betray, and how he lost that eye. It's a short but fairly entertaining story from 2000AD's painted era. So far I have found Blackblood a less interesting character and after the Moore/Dillon story this one suffers slightly. Not bad as filler though.

Joe Pineapples: His Greatest Hits by Pat Mills, Tom Carney and Ellie De Ville
The story of the universe's greatest assassin is reasonably entertaining and it's clear that Uncle Pat's tongue is firmly in his cheek here. I'm not sure if the art was painted, or if it's an early experiment with digital colouring but the primary colour palate is too brash and bright for me. Give me the pulpy black and white stuff any day.

Deadlock by Pat Mills, Henry Flint and Tom Frame
And speaking of black and white artwork here is a multi-part story with some gorgeous Henry Flint madness from the year 2000. It's a return to the world of Nemesis the Warlock with Purity Brown and Deadlock dealing with the aftermath of the final battle between Nemesis and Torquemada, and in particular with a serial killer stalking the tubes of Termight. If any 2000AD artist can match the whacky weirdness of Kevin O'Neill then it has to be Mr Flint who produces some monstrous mayhem and tube scenes that took me right back to that first issue where this series began.

The Deadlock story makes up the bulk of this collection and it is well worth the price of admission, but pick of the book is the surprise of reading an Alan Moore story from back in the day when he was just a wizard of words instead of a real beardy-weirdy wizard.

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