Great British Comic-Book Characters: Marshal Law

ml (1).jpg

Borag Thungg fellow fans of fantastic fiction, and welcome to another eccentrically enthralling episode of Great British Comic-Book Characters our occasional series that aims to acquaint you with some of our very favourite fictional figures originating from this tiny island known as the United Kingdom.

Untitled design.jpg

The British comic book scene has been active as long as its more famous American counterpart, and as long and varied as its history has been… very few costumed characters of the traditional spandex clad Superhero have emerged from this sceptred isle. That’s not to say that no characters of heroic nature have emanated from the UK, just that they tend not to follow in the footsteps of their more audacious USA brethren. Though long time allies and compeers, our differences couldn’t be more palpable, especially in the wonderful world that is comic books.

And, oh boy, Marshal Law is the epitome of this disparity, a fascistic, radically authoritarian creation that actually falls in line with a rather large amount of stylistically created fictional persona that have emanated from this country over several decades of both comic-books and general fiction (film, television, novels). Politically charged and anti-authoritarian issues have always had the biggest influences in the UK’s most popular comic book characters, from the obviously  quasi-fascist vision of future law enforcement that is Judge Dredd, through recalcitrant characters such as Zenith, V, and Nemesis the Warlock, British comic creators have always revelled in counterculture paradigms.

Untitled design (1)

Marshal Law is a government sanctioned “Hero Hunter” a super-powered member of the San Futuro police Department, San Futuro is a sprawling metropolis from the near future that rose from the ashes of San Francisco following a devastating earthquake. Marshal revels in his position as a Cape killer, with his raison d’etre revolving around taking down rogue Superheroes, Marshal derives an unhealthy amount of gratification and joy from this task, utilising an almost unlimited arsenal of ridiculously over the top weaponry/ heavy ordnance (and good ol’ fashion fisticuffs) he is uncompromising in both his use of violence and lack of emotional wealth… a true sociopath.

Marshal’s secret identity is Joe Gilmore, an ex super-soldier, who is overwhelmed with a malign sense of self loathing due to his manifest super powers. In this alternate future Genetic engineering has swept San Futuro and the USA at large, with most of America’s armed forces utilising the science to create the ultimate Ubermensch.

Though, the act of saddling the military populace with overt powers also led to an increase in detrimental psychological effects on the subjects, psychosis is prevalent amongst the majority of the soldiers, also the inability to control or understand their wildly chaotic powers. Upon leaving military servitude, these super powered individuals would often take up the cape and cowl to become Superheroes and yet their gradually diminishing mental capabilities and lack of remorse or any sense of compassion led them down a darker path more akin to the classic SuperVillain as opposed to the heroic archetype, which essentially leads to Marshal Law’s emergence as a hero hunter, whose own advanced abilities and detestation of genetic super-beings lead him down a violent, pitiable path of reckless redemption for his own self loathing due to his inherited mutation.

Untitled design (3) - Edited.jpg

Marshal Law was first unleashed onto unsuspecting Brit comic-book fans by Epic Comics in October 1987, a six issue mini-series created by 2000AD stalwarts Kev O’ Neill and the legendary Pat Mills. The resulting series led on to a fantastic one shot  “Marshal Law Takes Manhattan” in which he proceeded to eliminate perfectly parodied variants of Marvel characters. It’s these satirical parody’s of mainstream American Superheroes that has been a marvellous mainstay of his adventures throughout the years, DC characters such as Batman and Superman have also felt the sting of Marshal’s wrath with some absolutely fantastic and (especially in the case of Batman’s variant) outlandishly bizarre versions of the beloved heroes.

Marshal Law is an extreme satire of Superhero/Anti-hero tropes, mixed with outlandish humour, feverishly idiosyncratic art by the fantastic Kev O’Neill and the legendary Pat Mills at his politico anti-establishment finest. As long as you’re not easily offended, and can tolerate seeing your favourite Superhero get shot, stabbed, decapitated, electrocuted crushed, smushed, blown up, immolated and generally wiped the floor with by its titular star – Marshal Law… then this comes highly recommended!

Untitled design (2)

ml

Advertisements

About ArcaneHalloween

Fanatical about comics, gaming and horror movies....but then isn't everyone?

Posted on December 27, 2018, in Comics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Brilliant write-up there of Marshal Law and its place in Brit comic history! I still have my issues bought from the comic shop back in the day. Everything about ML was a full-on riot – from the characters, to the guns, to the striking colours, to the slogans everywhere. Loved it. Thanks for the trip down Marshal Law memory lane!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, hey there fellow M.Law fan! I love Marshal Law, it’s the ultimate symbiosis of Kev’s awesome art, Pat’s always amazing prose and ridiculous overtly OTT British humour… Thanks as ever for reading and commenting my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great idea., featuring comics based in the UK. I’ve probably never heard of any of them so I’ll be learning stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks my friend 🙂 yes indeed we have many crazy comic characters that haven’t travelled well outside of the UK that sometimes need a spotlight shone upon them. Marshal Law’s adventures are widely available now though, through trade paperback compilations and Dark Horse and even DC Comics have also reprinted much of the material, it comes highly recommended. Thanks for reading and commenting… Happy New Year! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome post! It’s really cool getting to learn more about comic history in the UK and now I totally want to track down some Marshal Law comics! 😀 Hope you have an amazing New Year full of all kinds of comic goodness!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So good, I once made my boss divert on the way to the airport because there was a Forbidden Planet in Nottingham(we had time) I bought a collected ML takes Manhattan and an Accident Man – he took one look at the covers and told me I had to hide them in case his daughters saw.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Or it may have been Fear and Loathing – too long ago

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: