Now this is plain weird. Sort of good weird, sort what the hell kind of weird. But mostly not enough of it to make it truly satisfying comic sort of weird.
It doesn’t even get to the comic bit of the comic until halfway through, starting with eight pages of character bios; all nasty looking buggers whose names appear to be newspaper snippets, and whose powers are plain outrageous, from the bizarre all the way through to the scatological.
After that we get a page of Craig Collins telling the readers that what we have here is an experiment somewhere between Burroughs’ cutup and Marvel’s Contest Of Champions based on Scarlett Thomas’ ‘Popco‘ to avoid ‘routine patterns of creative thinking‘ – using a copy of commuters’ friend The Metro and taking every single buzzy, strong word, combining and recombining to create near random super-villain names, albeit names evoking a certain level of sleaze and grotesquery … ‘Leaking Anger’, ‘Tender Horror’, ‘Explosive Ghost’, ‘Sewer Vision’, ‘Blood Fog’, ‘Sex Axe’, ‘Sparkling Tumour’, and ‘Ultimate Coma’. Yes, delightful.
All these get sent to artist Iain Laurie to devise some suitably vile villainy. And from there Collins came up with a simple plot – summed up in one word: FIGHT.
Cue 10 pages of all out ultra-violence, villain against villain for no discernible reason whatsoever. Each villain stepping up, cancerous gore, faeces, sleeping giant robots, haemorrhaging wraiths, monologuing muscle-boys, and more, until just one is left, victorious amongst the corpses. It is, unashamedly, just one big 10-page fight, nothing more, nothing less. There’s just one moment on page 2 where someone questions what the helll they’re here for, but after that.. all out mayhem and carnage…
Right then, I can understand the temptation for writer and artist to do something like this, a creative palette cleanser, uncomplicated, fast, fun to do. And if I were being charitable I could compare it with something akin to Scott McCloud’s Destroy, a completely over the top fight on huge pages for no reason whatsoever, McCloud making a point about the vacuousness of modern comics and their increasing reliance on big fights over character.
But I honestly think Collins and Laurie are just doing this for the experience, and as such I’ve got to say it’s probably more fun for them than it is for me reading it. The initial interest in the weird characters and the cut-up method didn’t really transfer to the 10-pages of fighting, which was over and done with far, far too quickly. If you’re going to go out in a spectacle of ultra-violence, it needed more pages, really go over the top and luxuriate in the extreme. So I ended up closing the comic feeling it hadn’t really engaged with me as a reader. It’s well written and Laurie is obviously having a great, great time doing his vilest, most grotesque characters doing their most vile, most grotesque things to the other vile, grotesque villains. But in the end, it just wasn’t for me. Fun, but empty, an interesting exercise.