Now that 77 #6 Kickstarter has launched, Luke finally gets around to reviewing issue 5.
The 77 Issue 5
Review by Luke Williams
Neil Blackbird Sims delivers a knock out cover for his swansong, illustrating a short text story by Dave Heeley. This is very much a transitional issue as a few strips make their (temporary?) swansong and there are three debuts.
In comes the intriguing Red by Day and Black by Night, with an interesting intro written by Jo Heeley, set in alternative world where occultist shacks up with Elizabeth the 1st and introduces fairies to England, but without straying into Neil Gaiman territory. The art on the strip proper by Rupert Lewis Jones is remarkable.
Continuing their tradition of attracting well established creators artist Mike Collins and letterer Annie Parkhouse make their 77 debut in a “Future Shock” type strip, hosted by“The Traveller” written by Mike Powell. Not a particularly original twist, but well executed some nice nods to 70s and 80s culture those of a certain age.
Paul Goodenough & Ian Stopforth’s “Extinction 2040” has a striking art style, redolent of a coloured Dave D’Antiquis of “Brigand Doom” (if you can remember that far back). Story wise so far this seems standard post apocalyptic fare, roaming armed gangs in a desolate landscape. The story is a little confused, but its’ early days and its a bold and confident start.
Brendon T Wright’s “Martian Law’s” whimsy on speed, exits stage left with this issue. A very eccentric, but appealing, light hearted sci-fi western.
Speaking of whimsy, but of the non threatening horror kind, David Thomas & Jon Roydon’s ”Penny Pentagram” reaches the final episode of its run, cell shaded loveliness, but with added bad jokes.
Following “Martian Law” and “Penny Pentagram” through the stage door is Joe Dunn and Jeremy Dunn’s glacial “Undertow”. It’s well written and lovingly drawn, but the pace of the strip has hampered it. Hopefully the pace will pick up in the next chapter.
Dave Bedford and Mac’s “Trackless Depths”, also gets its coat. The art is beautiful; greyscale, soft pencils and fine detail, but the story has been slight. It needed to build up some steam (or more appropriately more wind in its sails). It’s clearly building to something, but like “Undertow” needs to get there a bit quicker. Hopefully it won’t be absent for too long.
After their brief interludes from last month, Regular thrill “V” by Steve Bull and Ade Hughes, with vibrant colours from Darren Stephens takes a left turn from being confined to the gladiatorial arena to a broader sci-fi “Spartacus”. Dave Heeley and Sinclair Elliot’s “Division 77” gains a new artist to replace the departing Elliot. In comes Gary Burley, whilst Darren Stephens stays around to colour, introduction to the Division and it’s world out the way and plot elements are seeded.
In “The Cell” Andrew Sawyers’ pen is set to “psychedelic haze” mode (not a criticism) and he also supplies the eye catching back cover. Scripted by Bambos Georgiou the story remains bleak, a little levity wouldn’t go amiss.
Finally, you can always rely on the “‘77’s” “Captain Hurricane” (but with better jokes) “Sgt Shouty” to be silly, but fun.
“The ‘77” feels like it has found its rhythm. Editorial have got the balance of “light and dark” about right, too much nihilism can be a wearing. It over used statement, but yes there is indeed something here for everyone. If there is one criticism, it’s that some of the stories are a little too “decompressed”; with the large (though regular) gaps between issues it would be better to have faster paced strips. Collected, they’d read well, but in episodic format there needs to be more action per instalment.
Reaching issue 5 in the British Comics market is quite a feat. As this is written, the Kickstarter for issue 6 has launched. Issue 6 previews promise exciting content, definitely worth checking out.