Okay, not 2000AD, but 2000AD related. Luke checks out the reprint of “Psycho Killer” a refugee from the now long deceased “Toxic” a short lived 1990s rival to 2000AD. Written by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner and painted by “Fall Of Deadworld” artist Dave Kendall, Luke finds a lot to love.
By Pat Mills, Tony Skinner & Dave Kendall
Review by Luke Williams
Those of you who are of a certain age will remember the oft referred, and brief lifespan, of the creator owned arguably overly ambitious, full colour rival to 2000AD – “Toxic”. An attempt by the “fathers” of the Prog’ to recreate the populist late eighties heyday of the Galaxy’s Greatest. “Toxic” was to be a return to the formula of action and humour and away from what was being seen as the “Vertigoisation” (in places anyway) of the Galaxy’s Greatest. “Toxic” was meant to be the original destination of “Al’s Baby” ,”Button Man” and “I Was A Teenage Tax Consultant” all finally finding a home with 2000AD or its sister titles.
The backbone of this new title was Pat Mills working alongside writers such as Tony Skinner and Alan Mitchell and artists such as Will Simpson, Kev O’Neill, Mike McMahon, and Martin Edmond. Mills was on a creative roll, spewing (this was “Toxic” after all) out a slew of new characters to fill the ever hungry maw of the new comic, this led to some hits = “Accident Man”, some misses = “MutoManiac” and some that were perhaps overlooked, such as “Psycho Killer.”
My issues of “Toxic” are in a plastic bag in the attic, so it made more sense to spend more money to read it in this collection. I haven’t read this since it appeared in “Toxic” in 1990 (which is far too long a period ago – I feel old), and retrospectively I considered it filler, but I bought it anyway. It’s also the first published comic work of Dave “Fall Of Deadworld” Kendall.
“Psycho Killer” is Dr.Morbus, an unconventional psychiatrist who deals with cases involving the supernatural. His methods are more than a little extreme and treatment isn’t always successful, although the Doctor may disagree . Think of him as a one man Ghostbuster in a leather jacket.
When a Ouija board session goes awry and local weirdo Lily the Fink summons Liquid Lenny, a deceased east end gangster, some of Lily’s friends start disappearing or acting out of character. Dr.Morbus is called in to sort out the problem, by fair means or foul.
This has all of Mills’s and Skinner’s trademark black humour and wit, it’s a great concept but it’s so brief that there isn’t enough room here to develop the idea. The plot is not new, but the characterisations bring it to life, schlocky and fun. Dr. Morbus is a great cold blooded, unsentimental anti hero with a dapper dress sense and a nice taste in masks. You could see that Mills & Skinner would have had loads of mileage with this strip if “Toxic” hadn’t turned its toes up.
Dave Kendall has come a long way since this early work. Here he seems to be trying to emulate early Nick Percival by way of Simon Harrison – but more legible. Some of his line work is too shiny, figure work and anatomy can be a bit off, but he’s not afraid to splash out on the gore and grotesque and all without the story telling suffering. Sadly, his work has suffered from the reprinting. The vibrant colours from the original comics looks washed out from the scanning / reprinting process, not helped by the matt paper.
As a collection it’s quite expensive for 56 pages of story. But to compensate there is a contemporary Dave Kendall gallery in the back pages. The gallery doesn’t seem to have much to do with the story, but nevertheless it shows how far Kendall has come and what a great horror artist he is now, and his Dark Judges art rightly lauded by all and sundry.
Pat Mills has published this collection under the “Millsverse” imprint, hopefully leading to other lost gems such as the original Will Simpson drawn “Sex Warrior”, “Coffin” & “Rolerbeast” being collected and republished.
I think “Psycho Killer” is due a resurrection, what say you?