ABC Warriors – A Potted History 4 of 6
Khronicles Of Khaos / Hellbringer
Okay, so, story so far. Black Hole and White Hole prevented from colliding and destroying the universe, Deadlock, feeling guilty after betraying his master Khaos, exhorts the Warriors to spread Khaos throughout the galaxy and disrupt the Terran Empire.
But, to do this, they have to travel to the planet Hekate to transform into true warriors of Khaos.
In the last chapter I said that this gets a bit slapstick. Perhaps that was a bit strong, subtle humour has never been the stock in trade for Pat Mills, but it does certainly get a little Benny Hill for the next two ABC sagas. These two runs are definitely products of their time, with references to raves, the criminal justice act and acid house.
It was around this period that Mills was wrapping up work on “Third World War”, beginning to develop the spin off, his work on “Finn” and the “Horned God” had finished. Mills’ interest with Khaos as a concept, extreme violence, feminism and ecology had reached its height. SMS and Bisley had moved onto pastures new (the latter meg stardom) and Mills was now joined on writing duties by Tony Skinner, a practicing pagan, and the spectacular painted art of Kevin Walker.
The Khronicles of Khaos finds Deadlock firmly in the driving seat. The arrival on Hekate sees the Warriors pursuing 7 heads of authority to sacrifice for their transition to Khaos warriors. With the loss of the human Terri, and the increasing irrelevance of Ro Jaws (light relief just doesn’t cut it with big guns and robots),they find Morrigun, a hostess robot with hidden talents (yeah, I fell into the sexual innuendo trap)
There is a definite shift in tone from the last series. There were moments of black humour and sophistication in the “Black Hole Misson”, which is sadly absent. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also missing a plot.
Over the run the Warriors execute a series of authority figures in occasionally vaguely amusing and most certainly gory fashion, culimating in the night of the blood moon and the final conversion of the Warriors into Khaos Warriors. And after me re-reading it thinking “what was the point of that?”
On the upside, Kevin Walker’s art is beautiful, it positively glows. Bold, colourful and with an ever so slightly cartoony feel. Unfortunately some of the aliens look like they would be more suited to a Warhammer 40k’d version of the “Discworld” than what had been a hard edged blackly humorous science fiction strip. Walker follows Bisley’s interpretation of the Warriors, but scales back the musculature, adding more technological details, cables, wires, pistons, gears and levers, they look more like robots this time out, less like the steroid bound gym addicts as delinated by the Biz. Mongrol’s design is a personal favourite, even though he pretty much gets sidelined as a character.
Mills and Skinner take the opportunity to resolve some plotlines from the “Black Hole Mission”, including the nature of those negatives that Blackblood had on Joe Pineapples. It is indicative of the shift in tone, it comes across as less intense, more jocular, more knockabout and light hearted.
The end of the run finds the Warriors unwilling to pursue their new mission of spreading Khaos across the galaxy, disbanded and partying hard, which was what Deadlock wanted all along (all followers of Khaos, see?).
Ten years later, at the start of their next outing we find the Warriors disbanded and scattered across the galaxy ( sound familiar?). Hammerstein has been dismembered and is being held prisoner by Blackblood, who has gone back to being an arms dealer. Deadlock appears to him and warns him of the Terran Empire’s ship with a Black Hole as a weapon capable of sending rebel planets to parallel universes : the titular Hellbringer.
After being freed by Deadlock and quickly whipping Blackblood into shape, Hammerstein goes about recruiting the remaining Warriors, Joe has become a sniper for the Terran Empire, Mek Quake has developed an obsession with recycling, and Morrigun and Mongrol had remained in the temple on Hekate. After brief squabbles, the Warriors are reunited – in time return to the mission in hand, destroying Hellbringer.
Some how, they do. Though in a strange and ever so slightly confusing way. Something about the Warriors splitting up, double crossing the Terrans, triple crossing and betraying each other, and using Joe’s super sniper skills to bring things to a nice neat conclusion. But leaving the reader with a huge sense of anti climax and 12 episodes of missed opportunity. It all feels a bit “phoned in”.
The strip needed a kick up the arse, not even Kevin Walker’s fantastic art could save it.