Monday, 7 May 2018

Sex Warrior

Pat Mills, Tony Skinner & Mike McKone Sex Warrior (1993)
Before we get bogged down in dreary consideration of Sex Warrior, let us briefly turn to Whoopee, and specifically the issue of the children's comic dated to the 12th of January, 1985. The cover was a parody of 2000AD with Leo Baxendale's Sweeny Toddler masquerading as Judge Dredd. Chris Browning posted a reproduction of this cover on facebook, inspiring the following exchange.

Lawrence: I had no idea Whoopee endured beyond the seventies.

Chris: Mid-eighties is when great news for our readers! meant it was eaten by Whizzer and Chips, itself eaten in due time by Buster which was the final one of the stable...

Lawrence: I remember those great news issues. They never were. I'm still slightly pissed off at losing Star Lord after all these years, and even Tornado come to think of it.

Chris: My friend with whom I cooked up the Cheeky-ITMA theory was the one who pointed out that after the first time you saw great news!, you were pretty much cynical about the words from that point on. Kind of prepares you for the adult world, I guess

Lawrence: I jumped ship at prog 181 with 2000AD. It just seemed to be repeating itself, plus I'd left home and gone to college so it was an all around upheaval, and the quality of paper on which it was printed seemed worse than ever, and then came Meltdown Man and The Mean Arena...

Chris: 2000AD tends to work well when half of it repeats itself allowing for slightly madder flights of fancy. This is why Dan Abnett is the Terrance Dicks of 2000AD. Old safe hands occasionally manage something miraculous, mostly are just very good at writing variations of the same stuff whilst not becoming stale - see Pat Mills who, with a few exceptions, feels like a lunatic who got obsessed with paganism and anarchy and is just bellowing at you. The current Tharg, Matt Smith, is good at this ratio. It's why we've had Brass Sun and Scarlet Traces and some variety snuck in behind the back of the luddites

Lawrence: That's a great description of Pat Mills, even though that's sort of why I enjoy his best stuff. There was a Grant Morrison interview in which he was weighing in with his thoughts on the comic book profession, overcoming his characteristic reticence, and in which he said something like, that was when Pat Mills took a bit of a funny turn, which always amused me. I mention this mainly because I've just picked up the two issues of Sex Warrior which Pat Mills wrote for Dark Horse, and in which he tries far too hard, as usual.

Chris: Occasionally you read a bit of Pat Mills where you go, That’s it! That’s the one I liked as a kid! - the most recent ABC Warriors and Savage stuff has been a bit more focused because he's enjoying Howard Quartz as the big bad and channelling his usual bugbears into all that. Even the last Slaine was readable; but then you get Blackblood talking about fake news and it's like being bludgeoned all over again.

Lawrence: He's like the nutty friend of a friend who sets bus shelters on fire and is massively funny despite how hard you might try to dislike him, and yet you kind of don't want him as your own actual buddy.

Chris: Yeah, pretty much. I mean Finn, Black Siddha and American Reaper are among the worst things I have ever, ever read; but then there's this:

Lawrence: I vaguely remember disliking Finn because he reminded me of half of the people I knew at art college. I'll remain blissfully ignorant about the other two.

Chris: American Reaper is photo realist nonsense which, bizarrely, featured comedy metal band the Darkness in it, briefly. Black Siddha is basically Finn, but Asian and with jokes about corner shops and curries among the wanging on about the Goddess

Lawrence: That whole deal of identifying with Asian culture by explaining how much you love curry always irritated the hell out of me.

Chris: Black Siddha turned up in the free floppies with the Megazine, surely as some sort of keep Pat happy contractual obligation. Someone recently wrote in asking why the prog was publishing two Pat stories at once, saying surely one is enough at the best of times? A brave, brave man, that.

Sex Warrior began life in the pages of Toxic! with somewhat muddy-looking art by Will Simpson, and I have an anomalous memory of having sold a Dark Horse reprint of the same on eBay - anomalous because this version is drawn by someone else, is the only limited series to feature the character outside of Toxic!, and I have no memory of ever having read it. Anyway, assuming that this was the thing I once flogged on eBay - allowing for someone having mucked about with the time stream or summink - I now understand why I didn't feel the need to hang onto this one first time around. The art significantly improves on what I recall of the Simpson version which, if not without merit, always seemed to have the chromatic palate of playgroup Plasticine after a few months heavy usage; but otherwise everything you need to know is more or less covered in the above conversation. The premise of a war waged between the young and the old had potential, but for all intents and purposes, Chris Donald did it better back in the October 1985 issue of Viz.

Also, the cover of issue two is awful in ways even Rob Liefeld could barely manage.

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