Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Steve Seagle, James Robinson, Rob Walton, Darko Macan
Artist(s): Rob Walton, Ho Che Anderson, Teddy H. Kristiansen, Paul Grist, Edvin Biukovic
Colorist(s): Teddy H. Kristiansen, Bernie Mireault, Kathryn Delaney, Matthew Hollingsworth
Release Date: 2nd August 2017
It’s a title that draws nonplussed looks from the uninitiated and wry, knowing smiles and fulsome praise from fans of a certain vintage. Matt Wagner’s genre-bending sci-fi epic started life as somewhat of a Batman clone, telling the tale of arch criminal mastermind and novelist Hunter Rose, before mutating into a millennia-spanning treatise on the nature of power, loss, war, corruption and destiny.
Whilst creators like Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Art Spiegelman are rightly credited with breaking new ground with their various works in the ’80s, Wagner’s tale never seemed to generate quite the same level as love amongst mainstream audiences. But, for me, it is one of the great, unsung works of the period comparable to any of those master’s stories.
The rich mythology Wagner created gives a strong foundation to the stories contained within, with a scope sprawling enough to allow a plethora of creators to tell tales dealing with everything from the horrors of war to religious obsession to morality and politics. This isn’t to say that these stories are ponderous reads – far from it – as these themes are enveloped in fast-paced, thrilling tales full of spectacle, action and violence and populated by vicious marauding bikers, merciless killers and world-weary heroes.
While all the stories herein are brilliant, the standout tale here is undoubtedly ‘Devils and Deaths’ by Darko Makan and the much-missed Edvin Biukovic. Written when their own country was being ravaged by a civil war, their story deals with these horrors in a dark, uncompromising way as a dying soldier makes one last effort to atone for the sins of his past. It’s a masterclass with a truly heart-breaking denouement that stays with you for days afterwards.
When I picked this for review this week I did warn our wonderful head-honcho Ceej that it would probably contain no small amount of gushing, but I hope I’ve said enough to encourage more folks to check out this masterpiece. Dark Horse deserve all the plaudits going for repackaging these in affordable volumes for the next generation. If you only pick up one trade this week, make it this one.
You won’t regret it.
Oh, and VIVAT GRENDEL!!
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The writer of this piece was: Chris Downs
Chris Tweets from @ChrisDownsy