Another repackaging of old strips? Yes, but this is a bit special. This is pre 2000AD “Strontium Dog” in a tasty hardcover, with the original colour spreads. Luke has all these in his “Starlords”, but he bought it anyway….
The scribe behind the new Chopper series, Ladies & Gentlemen, Mr. David Baillie,
Sooner or Later
Peter Milligan / Brendan McCarthy / Jamie Hewlett
Published by Rebellion
Review by Seth
Is it really 30 years since this was published?
“Sooner or Later” follows dole queue occupant Mickey Swift, who, mistaken for someone infinitely more talented and significant is transported to the 35th century Ether city – a huge multi dimensional metropolis occupying a small area in the middle of London. The rest of the GB has been sold for use as a dump for toxic waste.
To get back to 20th Century Camden, Mickey needs to find a job, any job. Word gets around and he’s put up for the “ultimate job” – standing for government.
I had just started picking up 2000ad just as this had started. It started with one 4 page introduction and (most) of the remainder of the run on the back page. It was all very hip, very satirical, and very imaginative. It seemed a little out of step with the rest of 2000ad at the time but it was a harbinger for things to come. All kind of lost on 13 year old me, who just wanted more black humour and guns.
Re reading for the first time in 30 years, I now get the jokes, the Smiths references and the pointed satire. There isn’t much of a plot as such, it’s fragmented it reads like a newspaper strip. A punchline at the end of each installment as written by a James Joyce obssessed hipster and drawn by his acid influenced artistic compadre (as the cover likes to remind us, now famous for co writing / concept art for the genius “Fury Road”). Bizarrely, most of the jokes haven’t aged – all rather worrying eh?
Milligan’s script plays fast and loose. Clever word play, puns and allusions to the ridiculousness of modern British life. McCarthy’s imagination runs Riot (both literally and figuratively , Tony (Riot) Wright assists on art) over the page you can’t deny that this guy is incredibly talented and some of his charcaters are just plain bizarre. He creates a dayglo LSD infused “Clockwork Orange” world.
It’s a short strip, and to make up the numbers the package reprints the sequel : Mickey returns in the appropriately titled “Swifty’s Return”. More conventional than “Sooner or Later”, not as clever or political and resembles a more conventional jokey adventure strip.Swifty has a ticket to visits a series of different time zones with his bezzie mate Clinton to get to the ultimate party. By now McCarthy had made his apologies and bowed out, so Milligan brought along his other buddy Jamie Hewlett. Hewlett was just making his name in “Deadline” with “Tank Girl” and is now better known for co creating the virtual band “Gorillaz”. Around this time 2000ad’s identity was getting a smidge confused. Thargy was trying to bring in some hip young things to attract more of the “Face” crowd. “Swifty’s Return” is more throwaway, less pointed and lacks the depth of “Sooner or Later”, more wacky than surreal.
The rest of the package is made up of an interview each of Milligan and McCarthy previosuly published as “Interrogations” in the Megazine. Even with the extras it’s a slight package – £14 cover price? A tad pricey perhaps. I think I would have preferred it cheaper and with just “Sooner or Later” and “Swifty’s Return” for £6/£7. I am grateful it’s been collected, as I’m not sure if I would go through 1400 + progs to read the originals.
There is no doubt of the chemistry between Milligan and McCarthy. Pick this up (cheap if you can). If this isn’t enough M&M, check out “The Best of Milligan & McCarthy”, helpfully reviewed here.