Publisher: Unthank Comics
Writer: Harry French
Artist: Garry Mac
Colourist: Harry Saxon
Lettering: Colin Bell
Release Date: On sale now!
The first issue of Freak Out Squares took a wry look at the phenomenon of ‘celebrity’ by painting a vision of a future where celebrities are literally manufactured and the masses find them mindlessly worshipping these automated role models, blissfully unaware of the true reason for their creation – to keep the population subservient and distracted. Which, y’know, isn’t too wildly unfamiliar a concept for us to get our heads around, given the world we actually live in.
The second issue keeps the early momentum going as our would-be revolutionaries Harrison and Tricia continue their war against the cult of celebrity by picking off the false idols one at a time, ably assisted by the decapitated head of Johnny Orion – serving here as a makeshift ‘sniffer dog’. Yup. Once again, writer Harry French keeps things moving forwards with his fluid dialogue and confident plotting, keeping all the different plates spinning comfortably at the same time – including the particularly intriguing sub-plot of ‘Young Wolf Lord’, a manufactured celebrity who is somehow able to see through the ‘white noise’ of his creators and realise just how pointless his existence truly is.
The issue starts off excitingly enough with a dynamic exchange (including an utterly sublime splash page from artist Garry Mac) as Harrison and Tricia dispatch some of the aforementioned celebrities. So far, so fun, right? However, about midway through the comic, things start to get really interesting as Tricia starts to experience doubts about why they’re doing what they’re doing, instantly injecting the series with a whole new dimension. By eliminating the fake celebrities, the pair are effectively becoming celebrities themselves, and as more and more people flock to their cause, they run the risk of becoming the very thing they’re trying to stamp out. A brilliant twist that hadn’t initially occurred to me, but one which gives the book a lot of legs moving forward – particularly given Harrison’s bravado and showmanship as he picks off the celebs.
Visually, the book is brought to life by the distinctive linework of artist Garry Mac, who continues to improve in leaps and bounds practically every time I see his work. With his sharp, detailed, Quiteley-esque style (yeah, I said it), he seems equally at home with quiet conversations as he is with the more ‘far out’ aspects of this book. His character design continues to be absolutely top-notch, from the brainless masses worshiping their idols to reptilian strippers (yes, you read that correctly) to the unnerving, mechanised “Blanck Mass” who are dispatched to eliminate the wayward automatons. Once again however, the star of the show remains the blindingly garish (in a good way) colour work of Harry Saxon, who helps give the book its utterly distinctive visual style. He and Mac work smoothly together to create a world where everything is fake and superficial, providing all manner of eye-catching splash pages and visual beats along the way as they keep the story flowing forwards.
At first glance, Freak Out Squares may appear as gaudy and superficial as the celebrities culture it’s satirising, but scratch the surface just a little and you’ll find a far more complex, far more intriguing story just waiting to be told. For the time being however, we’re simply watching as the pieces are being slowly moved into place. Which, when the pieces themselves look as utterly gorgeous as they do here, is no bad thing. Definitely one to keep your eye on, and another strong offering from the team at Unthank Comics.
You can grab yourself a copy of Freak Out Squares #2 (as well as the first issue) right now from the RF Comics Webstore.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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