Turn and Face The Strange
Creator Droid John Smith : A Selective Bibliography
By Luke Williams
With his seeming recent excision from the Prog and the the Meg on two of his most significant creations, Luke takes a look at the work of the enigma that is cult script droid John Smith and comes over all wibbly and fanboyey’
Defoe : Queen of Zombies
Pat Mills & Leigh Gallagher
Review by Seth
Volume 2 of the series, collecting “Queen of the Zombies” and “A Murder of Angels”, dropping us right in the middle of an intensifying reek (zombie) war. Titus Defoe and his “Dirty Dozenne” are up against it. On the trail of “Mene Tekel” and the titular “Queen of the Zombies “ La Voison.
La Voison is traced to Nonsuch House, home to the British Secret Service and the headquarters of the Royal Resurrection Company, at a gathering for the gentry and the British Secret Service. With “Damned” Jones in tow, Defoe crashes the party but reckons without the power of La Voison to control the part-reek clockpunk servants of the house. Defoe and crew have a battle on their hands, and not without loss, as one of their number turns reek, and there’s discord and division in the ranks. Soon the action moves to the Tower of London, under siege from an army of Reeks, there is a traitor in our heroes’ midst, heavenly forces take an interest and the identity of Mene Tekel is revealed.
And there’s a massive crocodile.
Leigh Gallagher is the punk rock Bernie Wrightson. Unfashionable with the number of panels per page, dripping in atmosphere, black and white, with an emphasis on the black, shading applied via pepper pot, intricate, gory, grotesque, a master class in cross hatching. Backgrounds, character and weapon design out of the sketch book of Bosch (Hieronymous, not power tools). Mills introduces the concept of “clockpunk” as a precursor to steampunk, which means Gallagher has a whale of a time designing bizarre and outlandish weapons and vehicles. The clockpunks created by Robert Hooke draw inspiration from JF Sebasatian’s android companions in Blade Runner, and in turn Hans Christian Andersen. Unnatural, eerie and sinister. Absolute genius.
Mills’s script occasionally stalls as he stands on his soapbox, but this is witty, very funny in places. It does tend to jump around a bit but there are ideas a plenty. With each page Mills comes up with something inventive or outlandish, he’s having a ball, more so than any of his other recent work.
There are the usual Mills targets: “the Vizards” the superheroes of the 17th century are treated contemptuously by our hero and the customary class commentary and savaging of the upper classes. He deploys historical figures inventively and creates imaginative alternative technologies . The action doesn’t let up from page 1, with the pulpy feel of a puritan “From Dusk Till Dawn”.
In short, it’s fab’. Buy it.