Petre’s Story by Mark Spencer
“’ere Mister, show us yer gun.”
Petre turned at the insistent tug at his sleeve. The small group of children gathered around him, eyes wide in awe at the semi-automatic he cradled in the crook of his arm. They had worked their way closer and closer to him over the past few weeks – local children, their wild laughter reverberating through the mostly deserted streets – making this checkpoint one of the most pleasant to work at.
He handed them chocolate to share between them, the sweet milky kind that these English seemed to like so much, and they nursed it lovingly, determined that it should last forever. They watched him wide-eyed and squealed excitedly as he hoisted his gun and pointed it in their direction.
“Your hands! Put them up!” he growled with a smile.
They scattered in all directions and Petre chortled at their delighted little faces. He turned back towards the guard hut and walked past the pushbikes propped-up against the guardrail.
“We need to win their hearts and minds,” he thought to himself. “The children are the key. They understand all the good that is in the Volgan heart, they can see that we are only here to help. They know that we want to make things better.”
He did not understand the ferocity of these English, the violence of their Resistance Movement, their insistence on freedom from Volg control. His country had brought so much to this tiny, angry island; a stability and security it had never known; order of an unprecedented kind; Volgan art and Literature, ballet never before seen in this insignificant part of Europe. What was wrong with these people?
He recalled his own childhood. The grinding poverty and how it had all changed when the Volgs came. The ruthless way they had rooted out corruption in the government, the way they had provided education and food and housing for him and his family, the way they had done all they could for his people in order to strengthen the Empire and give equal protection to all. They had brought joy to his heart and the light of liberation to his country. As soon as he was old enough he had enlisted. He wanted to give his life to the Empire that had given him life. His heart swelled with pride at the memory of his father’s tears on the day of his Passing Out Parade and that smile lingered as he refocused on the job at hand.
The large black staff-car, the kind only used by the highest-ranking bureaucrats, glided serenely to a standstill and Petre snapped to attention. The driver’s window slid down. A hand emerged from the darkness and presented him with documents. Petre looked through them quickly and efficiently. His heart hammered against his ribs and he swallowed dryly. He glanced at the photo-ID papers and checked them against the occupants of the vehicle.
“These are all in order,” he said.
He handed the papers back. The window slid noiselessly up, the driver did not acknowledge Petre’s fine work. The children’s laughter had stopped. The barrier lifted. As the car moved forward flames erupted from the stack of pushbikes. The blast of heat threw Petre back. The staff car was engulfed by fire and all Petre saw was the impassive, chocolate smeared faces of the small group of children.
This time The Whittle is joined by the course director of Dundee University’s Animation and Visualisation programme, organiser of Dundee Comic Day and huge 2000AD fan Dr Phil(not that one)ip Vaughan (he is also NOT Philip Bond) to talk through Prog 14.
Podcast available via itunes or the Libsyn Webpage as a direct download
Solaris Rising 3 – Edited by Ian Whates
(Solaris Books, publishing September)
Following its critically well-received and continuously popular predecessors Solaris Rising 1, 1.5 and 2, Ian Whates returns to curate this latest collection of cutting edge SF short stories in Solaris Rising 3.
With an exciting line up of authors that continues Solaris Books trademark of mixing bestselling, award winning and emerging authors to break new ground in SF publishing, Solaris Rising 3 is a beautiful executed SF anthology that resonates far beyond the known boundaries of the universe.
Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets – Edited by David Thomas Moore
(Abaddon Books, publishing October)
Take a look at Doyle’s iconic duo as you’ve never seen them before; as fourteen celebrated and emerging genre talents warp, twist and break the world of Holmes in this exciting new addition to the Abaddon Books title pool.
Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets is the contemporary new classic you didn’t even know you needed to read, featuring Holmes and Watson in guises you couldn’t even possibly begin to imagine…
Fearsome Magics: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy – Edited by Jonathan Strahan
(Solaris Books, publishing October)
A cabinet of magic! A cavalcade of wonder! This collection of stories both strange and wondrous, from some of the best and most exciting writers in Fantasy today, is underpinned once again by Strahan’s fantastic eye for short story fiction. This will be the anthology you’ll find on the shelves of all Fantasy fans this autumn.
Taken from a Rebellion Press Release:
Since Karl Urban donned the helm to star as Judge Dredd, 2012’s DREDD has gone on to achieve cult movie status – the official campaign for a sequel, endorsed and co-ordinated by 2000 AD, now has a 125,000 name petition and a 93,000-strong Facebook page. The fans have since rocketed the DVD and Blu-Ray to the top of the Amazon charts around the world and Urban himself has personally thanked them for their ongoing support.
Rebellion is very pleased to announce that DREDD: The Illustrated Script and Visuals by Jock and Alex Garland is out this week from all good book stores and comic book stores on both sides of the Atlantic.
Taking Garland’s original pre-production screenplay we have run it alongside Jock’s never-before-seen comic-style storyboards, which were not only used by director Pete Travis but also award-winning cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle to create the visual look of the film. The stunning layout by 2000 AD designer Simon Parr, put together in close cooperation with Jock, are exclusive concept visuals, behind-the-scenes photos, and notes from the artist on his work creating the look of this cult classic.
It also features an exclusive introduction from screenwriter Alex Garland: “Part of [Jock’s] huge contribution was a full-length comic book version of the script, that we distributed to everyone from financiers to crew. His paintings and sketches were one of the quickest and most effective way of conveying the look and tone of the project. When – a very long time later – the picture was locked, I could see his input had pervaded the film at all levels.”
The limited edition numbered hardback sold out from 2000 AD’s online store within three days!
Get yours NOW!
The Complete Nemesis The Warlock
Review by Seth
This third and final volume features the climax of the seemingly endless (and to be honest, getting a bit repetitive now) conflict between Torquemada and Nemesis. Interestingly it probably is the most varied of the 3 volumes, featuring contributions from artists whom offer their own very distinct interpretation of the alien freedom fighter and his universe.
Volume 2 had ended with the remarkable “Two Torquemada’s”, featuring grotesque art by the mercurial John Hicklenton. Torquemada is pursued by Nemesis through the time wastes after escaping from the 15th Century inquisition-era Spain, leaving Torquemada’s namesake and Thoth, Nemesis’ son dead in their wake. The galaxy is still threatened with annihilation thanks to the imminent collision of the white and black holes on either side of Termight, set in motion by Thoth.
Volume 3 begins with “Purity’s Story”, written as ever by Mills and drawn by David Roach. Purity and Nemesis exit the time wastes in pursuit of Torquemada. Leaking time radiation removes a block on Purity’s memory and she begins to recall her early days with the resistance and her first meeting with Nemesis. As much an origin story as setting the direction and establishing important plot points for the strips last lap. It also raises questions over Nemesis’ motivation, the Warlock treating the conflict as a game, which conflicts with some of what precedes it and what follows, though arguably this just proves that Nemesis is a force of Khaos . Art wise, “Purity’s Story” is sandwiched between the Hicklenton books of “Two Torquemada’s” and “Deathbringer”. The difference between the two artistic styles is almost jarring. Hicklenton has the ability to draw things seen in your worst nightmares. His characters, even the heroes and heroines of the story, are grotesque beings with distended bodies and limbs contorted into unlikely shapes and fearful facial expressions (even when they are smiling); the stuff of acid flashbacks. Roach’s art has almost a woodcut look about it, and maintains the spirit of the early O’Neill strips, though the designs are not so outlandish. Beautiful art. I have a page of it on my wall dontcha know.
“Deathbringer” – the penultimate of book of the series, continues directly from “Purity’s Story”. Nemesis has reinforced the spell on Purity to prevent her remembering anything else she shouldn’t. Torquemada has spent 10 years in the modern era, and established himself as the head of a paramilitary group called the “Oy Boys” with a sideline in a nationwide chain of bed and breakfasts. Nemesis’ attempt at blocking Purity’s memory had been unsuccessful and Torquemada and Nemesis battle for her allegiance. The contemporary (ish) setting and the artist give it the feel of a lost book of Mill’s “Third World War”, with Torque’ taking the place of villain Inspector Ryan. Hicklenton’s art feels slightly more reigned in here, but contains some startling images. However, by now the strip had begun to slip into the routine of the climactic battle of all battles between Nemesis and Torquemada, which you knew wouldn’t actually be resolved. The last few Nemesis books had become one overlong chase scene through the time wastes, kind of like a gothic “Road Runner” cartoon. It was time for this to be resolved. But this wasn’t going to happen for another 10 years.
In the lay-off between “Death Bringer” and the final book “The Final Conflict” there were a number of one off or short runs that were used as fillers setting up the final book or just to keep the plot bubbling along and remind readers what these characters were about.
The first of these “The Shape Of Things To Come” drawn by Paul Staples, very definitely falls into the filler category – adding nothing to the ongoing saga. Staples art, though capable, was a significant stylistic change from Hicklenton, moving away from the gothic tone and into a more mainstream vein. Staples is a good artist, though his images tend to be bit static and conventional for a strip that had previously been drawn so distinctively by Hicklenton, Talbot, O’Neill and Redondo. It seemed to be a false start, and the strip was further rested until 1994.
The 3 part series “Hammer of the Warlocks” was to be a prologue to the final book, drawn by a nascent Clint Langley. Torquemada has found the answer to the increasingly savage conflict with Nemesis, the titular Hammer of the Warlocks. Langley’s art has come a long way, here he comes across as a more coherent Simon Harrison, but with equally organic textures, with so much green on some pages it looks like he has painted with algae.
We had to wait another 5 years before Mills with the genius of Henry Flint in tow was to complete the saga. The team brought the series full circle. Torquemada had returned to Termight to take charge again, Purity heading up the now independent human resistance. Nemesis returns to Termight to finish the feud with Torquemada (and seemingly contradicting his earlier statements of the reason for his involvement). Torquemada is overthrown and put on trial, escapes and he and Nemesis square up for the final confrontation, fittingly drawn by Kev O’Neill. Flint reverted to the “sword and sorcery” atmosphere of O’Neill and Redondo, from the science fiction, gothic and steam punk drift of Talbot, Hicklenton and Roach. Slightly anti climatic, perhaps a tad rushed and most definitely overdue, the strip was put to rest and the characters met a fate quite fitting for the tone of the series.
The volume also collects as “bonus” material strips that.
“Warlock and Wizards” from prog 700, acts as a prologue to the “Enigmass Variations” which ran from the first all colour prog : 723. Written by Pat Mills, with co writer Tony Skinner and painted by Carl Critchlow. A tongue in cheek Agatha Christie who dunnit style fantasy strip, it co stars Deadlock from the ABC Warriors. “Bonus material” is an odd term for such utter dreck. Mills and Skinner’s plot and script are hackneyed and clichéd, and in places just plain painful (see Nemesis donning a Sherlock Holmes deerstalker and pipe) and with both leads acting agonizingly out of character. What were they thinking? The strip suffers from the mid 90s painted art syndrome. Critchlow employs muddy, dark colours and his characters weren’t great. He’s definitely gone onto better things.
The final strip in the collection was published in the 1992 Winter Special and is set between “Deathbringer” and the “Hammer Of The Warlocks” and drawn by the great lost Nemesis artist Chris Weston, striking the right balance between the O’Neill and Talbot interpretations. The strip resolves the triangle between Nemesis, Candida and Torquemada and puts paid to some significant characters on the way. Unfortunately, it does end with yet another Torque / Nem’ slugfest, laboured even in 1992. This isn’t bonus material and should have been published in this volume as it fits within the strips’ timeline.
A good package, with some spectacular art from Roach, Weston, Flint, Hicklenton & O’Neill, but by now the strip itself had become tired, and like all good things, it had to end. (And please – not revived).
But let’s all pretend that the “Enigmass Variations” never happened.