By Paul Rainey
Paul Rainey lets us know that the third print issue of Thunder Brother: Soap Division is out at the end of November with a launch on the 24th at Niche Comics in Huntingdon where Paul will be signing at 5pm.
This issue features the third Thunder Brotherstory; The Two Ronnies, along with a few extras; “four Doctor Who/Jeremy Kyle mash-up strips Doctor Kyle, another Ghost Zombie and West: Badwater Lake written by Andrew Cheverton and appearing in full-colour for the first time“.
I’ve already read the main story – as Rainey’s serialising the whole thing online at his website. And now I’m in one of those troublesome little quandries…. do an Upcoming? Do a review? Sod it, in the end, I read the issue online once more and started typing…. so it’s somewhere in-between a shorter summary review. If you’re interested, there are reviews of issue 1 and issue 2.
Essentially, you should already know most of what I’m about to say anyway, since you should be reading it as well, as Rainey’s doing that brilliant thing he does so easily it seems; taking a simple enough sci-fi idea and really, really thinking it through, getting into all those troublesome details that it’s all too easy to o ignore in favour of shifting that plot forwards. Rainy takes another view, that there’s a story within those troublesome details. Of course, it does help that Rainey’s storytelling and art match up to his clever ideas all the way.
Frankly it’s the literary equivalent to looking at that job your boss wants you to do, telling you it’s an easy one that shouldn’t take you all that long. And you just know, with a chilling dread, that you’ll be sweating over this every waking hour getting all those easy, little things to arrange themselves in a way that works.
Yep, that’s what Rainey does here. The basic setup is clever, sure enough; the first story The Apprentice sees young Sally gets recruited to an organisation that polices and organises a series of parallel dimensions where the inhabitant’s reality is transmitted to our Earth as our soaps. Simple but clever, yes?
But last issue we had the troublesome Truman Show-esque query of Going Straight, which asks the question … what would happen if one of the soap characters caught wind of their lives being nothing but soap fodder for someone else.
And this issue’s The Two Ronnies sees the difficult little problems keep on coming, as well as the delightfully familiar old TV show story titles.
So, here’s the idea this story… if you are working for a super-secret organisation responsible for perpetuating a huge world-wide deception, just how exactly do you get time off school to go and work for them? And for that matter, if the characters on your favourite soaps are real and live on different worlds, who the hell are those people who appear on TV and in the gossip sections of the papers telling us they’re the actors playing the characters?
Poor poor Sally. What is a school-girl to do? The stress is beginning to take its toll on her, and her imagination is running riot overnight….
However, in the end, in a very typically Paul Rainey way, everything is explained, and we also get the meaning of the cryptic title along the way.
So, how do you manage all this duplicity?
Oh yes, an elegant, clever solution that creates storylines a plenty. But that’s exactly what I enjoy about Rainey’s work. Clever, clever sci-fi that was soap-operatic even before all this involvement with soap operas.
You can pick up a copy of Thunder Brother: Soap Division at Paul’s online store or in person at the launch from the end of November. But all of Soap Division is still online. Not online can you catch up, you can get ahead, and find the clever fun of stories to come, I’m especially enjoying the brilliant idea behind the latest serial; Mind Your Language, again Rainey adding a dash of sweary real life into a world where swearing is unheard of – typically great work.