Issue 2 of the UK comics anthology, inspired by the comics of our youth. Can Team ’77 repeat the success of issue 1 or is this a classic case of second album syndrome?
Summer Special Issue 2
Issue 1 of the ’77 was a resounding success. The editorial team worked hard to get word out about their science fiction fantasy comic. What made it easier was that they were selling a high quality comic, with plenty of variety and great production values. So here we are, issue 2. Spoilers are kept to a minimum, but some are unavoidable.
The cover from Neil Sims is startling. The figure (from “Ghastly United”) looks like Kid Miracleman has been recruited into the Orange Order. Eye catching and intriguing.
Billed as a summer special, the format is largely the same as issue 1, but it has had a few tweaks. Editor Bensky provides an intro, there is a new tag line : “Your Future is History” with fewer overt retro references. A much overlooked element of comics, the letters page, is given some space and stars the famous (John Burdis), and not so famous (some guy called Wagner?).
Returning for issue 2 Steve Bull & Ade Hughes’ nihilistic gladiator story “V” and Dave Heeley and Sinclair Elliott’s sci fi war strip “Division 77” both take left turns. Ade Hughes’ art on “V” seems to be even more detailed than last time and Sinclair Elliott clearly likes a fight scene, the strip isn’t short of carnage and big explosions for all you adolescents out there.
“Prodigal” takes gives a history lesson. It’s red hued flashback loving laid out art is redolent of late seventies Fleetway annuals.
This time around “Penny Pentagram” by David Thomas & Jon Rydon has more space to breathe. The panels aren’t as cluttered and it’s in colour, as a consequence the strip becomes more readable. Not to your reviewer’s taste, but well crafted.
On the other end of the horror spectrum, Kek W and Conor Boyle’s moody “The Screaming Hand” is all murky greyscale and disorientating camera angles, lovely art.
Done in one “Trompe La Mort” by David Bedford and Andrew Richmond is an atmospheric and spooky horror tale, harking back to IPC titles like “Misty”
Of the new strips, “Skateworm” and “Martian Law” bring the whimsy. Brendon T. Wright’s “Martian Law” is 50’s 50s sci fi small town America played for laughs on Mars.
Morgan Gleave’s art on “Skateworm” is lovely, chunky and bold, well suited to humour work. Particularly those featuring skateboarding fanatic reanimated worms. Script from Smith & Conan is a bit short on gags, but its only the first episode.
Lew Stringer’s “Sergeant Shouty” continues to be very silly and goes a touch meta this episode as he is put on trial for what he did in issue 1. Great humour comics.
Bambous Georgiou and Andrew Sawyers “The Cell” is the tale of a room that provides brief respite for its users from an oppreisve future. Grim and gritty. Striking art from Andrew Sawyers.
Whereas equally pessimistic, post apocalyptic “Undertow” scavenger tale has little dialogue from writer Joe Dunn, letting the bold art from Jeremy Dunn to tell the story.
“Ghastly United”, is a football team of horrors is reminiscent of any number of sport strips from the 70s as if it had been published in “Scream”, which is hardly surprising as it’s written by former IPC editor Barrie Tomlinson. Neil Sims knocks it out of the park on art.
“The Collector” is another of Steve McManus’ scripts from his book “The Sheerglam Consipiracy”, brought to life by “Armitage” and “Anderson” artist Charlie Gillespie. It’s a better fit in the anthology than the last cut from Mac 1’s book and Charlie Gillespie is clearly underused in comics. A nice one off with a bit of a twist. Remind you of anything?
“Gut Crawlers” by Dan Whitehead with slick linework from 2000ADs Paul Williams, a mashup of “Aliens” and cult sci fi movie “Dark Star” is one of the highlights of a very high quality package.
“Jericho 5” is Dan Whitehead and PJ Holden’s updating of “Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased). Police procedural with a sci fi edge. Plus it has dinosaurs, which is always a winner and PJ Holden is just great.
Rounding out the package is another installment of the feature on Ian Gibsons’s “Lifeboat” project. It’s such a tease. From what has been seen this strip cries out to be published.
What rough edges there were from issue 1 have been rubbed off. Editorial have got the balance of one offs, new strips and ongoing content right. If there is a criticism, it’s that the gaps between issues are far too long. This is great comics. Creators and editorial have worked hard to put together a professional and commercial package which wouldn’t look out of place in your local newsagent or comic shop. Excellent work. Roll on issue 3.