Monday, 26 February 2018


Pat Mills & Kevin O'Neill Metalzoic (1986)
I first read Metalzoic in episodic form in the pages of 2000AD, but this is the source, an original DC graphic novel, and a graphic novel in the sense that it isn't just a stack of existing comics reprinted as a single volume. I'm not convinced it would work just as a novel, all words and no visual element. In fact, the narrative is such that it's difficult to work out quite how they broke it up for serialisation in the galaxy's greatest. I no longer have those issues of the comic, although I recall the impression Metalzoic made on me at the time, and in at least enough detail to suspect that it probably worked significantly better in black and white.

All the same, the colour is fine so that isn't much of a criticism because Metalzoic may even be the best strip either of these guys ever had a hand in. It really is breathtaking, and is probably the weirdest thing Kevin O'Neill ever drew. The story, which recalls some of those screwy posthuman environments which always seemed to feature in Brian Aldiss novels, takes place in the far future. Humanity has dwindled to stragglers, and the planet has reverted to its natural state, but a natural state formed from the distant descendants of self-replicating machines, robot mammoths, robot primates, a mechanical savannah - I'm not sure who else but Kevin O'Neill could have drawn this and made it work. Mills is similarly on top form, writing science-fiction like it's a Bash Street Kids strip, balancing brash dialogue with entire pages of silence during which the art speaks for itself. Despite that it probably looked marginally better in black and white, Metalzoic is a masterpiece and sadly seems to have been one of a kind.

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