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Great British Comic-Book Characters: Marshal Law

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Great British Comic Book Characters Presents: 2000AD Prog #2000

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Borag Thungg fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome back to another instalment of ‘Great British Comic Book Characters’  Precinct1313’s episodic delve into the UK’s biggest selling and highly influential weekly anthology comic: 2000AD. And today’s episode marks a massive milestone for the ‘Galaxy’s Greatest Comic’ with the release of it’s 2000th issue!

The iconic British comic book has been administering thrill power to the masses since it was first introduced in 1977. It has been responsible for unleashing such seminal characters as Nemesis the Warlock, Zenith, Rogue Trooper, Slaine, Strontium Dog, and of course, it’s most important and popular persona, the grim lawman of the future, Judge Dredd.

dredd-edited-1The weekly anthology not only became the biggest selling British comic in the UK’s history (and still is today) but also helped thrust into the limelight some of the greatest British writers and artists in comic book lore, such luminary delights as Pat Mills, Alan Moore, Simon Bisley, Alan Grant, Brian Bolland and Grant Morrison. These outstanding talents have gone on to be responsible for some of the most legendary works in comics with titles including, Batman: The Killing Joke, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing and many, many more.

Celebrating a monumental 2000 issues, today is the most important day in British comic-book history as the illustrious issue hits the UK newsstands. Prog #2000 begins with an illustrated introduction from some of 2000AD’s most famed creators, and Quaxxan native – Tharg the Mighty, 2000AD’s alien editor, acts as our virtual tour guide across the stunning stripsAs we dive into the grandiose comic, we are delighted to see the return of some of the original Scrotnig stalwarts, especially two of Dredd’s creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra who present us with an extra special anniversary story depicting Mega City’s most feared Judge, who teams up up with renowned Strontium Dog himself Johnny Alpha.

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Other delights include, the return of Pat Mills and Kevin O’ Neill to Nemesis the Warlock, and an especially Zarjaz tale featuring PSI Judge Anderson (my personal favourite 2000AD character) brought to you by legendary scribe Alan Grant, with exceptional visuals by the extremely talented David Roach. The Prog (2000AD and British’ism for issue, fact fans) ships with three different covers, and is a complete and utter steal at a mere £3.99.

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Three Monumental Covers To Help Celebrate A Majestic Milestone

The irreverent satirical humour, anti-establishment rhetoric, and dystopian outlook are all present and correct, as they always have been since this momentous comic’s first appearance. Mixed in with stunning art and classic creators, this is a fitting tribute to one of the world’s most iconic and groundbreaking works of fiction, ‘Florix Grabundae’  to Tharg the Mighty, founder Pat Mills, and the cadre of creators that have given us, humble British comic book fans, such delightfully satirical entertainment over the years. Splundig Vur Thrigg’ fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo’

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Tharg’s Catchphrase Dictionary…

Tharg the Mighty has not only brought fantastic characters and thrill-power to the comic-book masses over the years, but also his own dialect. So to induct those Terrans who have never spoken Quaxxiann, we proffer a list of his most widely utilised phrases and their Terran translations.

Borag Thungg Earthlet” – Greetings Human.

“Zarjaz” – Excellent.

“Krill Tro Thargo” – Honoured By Tharg.

“Florix Grabundae” – Many Thanks.

“Nonscrot” – Someone Who Doesn’t Read 2000AD.

“Scrotnig” – Exciting/Amazing.

“Squaxx Dek Thargo” – Friend Of Tharg.

“Splundig Vur Thrigg” – Goodbye.

 

Great British Comic Book Characters Presents: Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD

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Borag Thungg fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome back to another instalment of “Great British Comic Book Characters,” Precinct1313‘s episodic look at the UK’s biggest selling and highly influential weekly anthology comic; 2000AD.

Over the previous five instalments of this ongoing series, I have gradually introduced you to the characters and creators of the “Galaxy’s Greatest Comic,” what first motivated me to begin a series on 2000AD was initially the fact that, apart from Judge Dredd, the majority of classic characters from this mighty tome are rather unknown to the world outside of the British isles. Fantastic creations such as Nemesis the Warlock, Rogue Trooper, Zenith and Strontium Dog have rich backstories, superstar creators and close to 40 years of history, yet still remain in relative obscurity. Having grown up alongside these characters, I decided to utilise my blog to promote, as best as I could, these groundbreaking comic characters and hopefully draw more appreciation and proclivity towards characters I believe are deserving of a far larger audience than they currently receive.

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“Read more 2000AD, or it’s five years in an iso-cube, mandatory!”

Released in the UK on December 7, “Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD” is an 106 minute documentary that charts the rise of Britain’s favourite comic-book, offering up a dynamic and comprehensive overview of the comic that includes a look at the various highs and lows of the comics history, and extensive coverage of the creative process behind the scenes of the long running megazine. Documenting how a band of Britain’s most talented and eclectic comic talent came together to create the visionary publication, and guest starring a swathe of said talent including; Neil Gaiman, Pat Mills, John Wagner, Grant Morrison and Dave Gibbons, plus recent “Dredd” actor Karl Urban is also on hand to profess his adoration for 2000AD‘s world famous grim protector of the law.

Future Shock! is directed by Paul Goodwin, who has, as previously mentioned, assembled an iconic group of talent for interviews and nostalgic musings on their past glories. Especially entertaining, as always, is the fantastic Pat Mills, who rages and rants humorously on the ups and downs of the comic’s (at times) tempestuous past, Mills alone is worth the asking price, one of the greatest talents in the UK industry, he never pulls his punches and always tells things as they are, his part in this documentary is legendary!.

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Pat Mills, is as awesome and entertaining as ever in this must see documentary

The documentary itself mostly consists of the aforementioned interviews alongside various illustrations, also included though are some impressive animations courtesy of Zebra Post, with the opening sequence being a particular stand-out piece. The docu mainly covers the 70’s and 80’s of 2000AD‘s long history, but does touch on the 90’s, especially on sister publication Judge Dredd: The Megazine.

At over 100 minutes long, this fantastic look at 2000AD is a must have for fans of the comic, but also offers up an intriguing study of British comics in a time when the UK was going through a considerable transition in politics, music and outlook, 2000AD embraced and used these changes to produce an intelligent and sometimes hilariously subversive comic that almost predominantly helped evolve not just the comic book scene in Britain, but ultimately the across the planet itself.

Precinct1313 Rating: Zarjaz!!

Great British Comic Book Characters: Nemesis The Warlock

Nemesis Copyright: Rebellion 2015

Nemesis Copyright: Rebellion 2015

“I am the shape of things to come, the lord of the flies, holder of the sword sinister… the death-bringer, I am the one who waits on the edge of your dreams… I am Nemesis”

Borag Thungg my fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome to another instalment of “Great British Comic Book Characters.” In our last episode we introduced you to the UK’s biggest selling anthology comic of all time, 2000AD and its much celebrated principal star Judge Dredd, from this episode onwards we shall be exploring in detail the plethora of other characters that make up this diverse and innovative weekly comic book compendium.

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Demonic alien entity Nemesis made his first appearance in 2000AD in prog #167 in July of 1980, created by writer Pat Mills and artist Kevin O’Neill.

Protagonist Nemesis is a fire-breathing alien who opposes the tyrannical and oppressive subjugation and systematic extermination of alien races by the evil human Termight empire and their fascist leader Tomas De Torquemada. His self appointed pursuit of justice against the xenophobic human forces began after discovering that his wife Chira and son Thoth had been murdered by termite’s terminators under orders from Torquemada himself.   

 

2000AD prog #167 first introduced us to our eponymous alien advocate in a short story entitled “Comic Rock: Terror Tube.” This initial adventure saw our freedom fighting anti-hero escape from the clutches of the then Chief of tube Police, Torquemada, after a sustained chase through a complex tube travel system on a planet named Termight (later revealed to be Earth.) Though for his first ever appearance he was strangely conspicuous by his absence, all the reader saw of Nemesis was the exterior of his ship, the Blitzspear. 

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Though short, Terror Tube set the scene for the continuing crusade of Nemesis and his lifelong antagonist Torquemada, the Termight Police were modelled closely after the Spanish Inquisition and extreme right wing factions such as the Nazis and Ku Klux Klan (Torquemada himself was named after notorious Spanish Inquisitor Tomas De Torquemada) which made it easy for the reader to easily empathise with the plight of the subjugated alien races and the violent struggle of our titular lead Nemesis. Though Nemesis himself is far from pure and virtuous, with his human aide and confidante Purity Brown ultimately realising that his mission of vengeance was used as an excuse to cover his own hatred of Humans and his mission to exterminate them from the known Universe.

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Our main antagonist Torquemada began his evil quest as a young boy, embarking on a crusade to rid the Galaxy of aliens. Betrayed by the crusade’s leader he was sold into slavery, ending up as a minion for an alien race for over five long years. This scarred him badly leaving what little compassion and humility he possessed to be discarded, with his hatred of other lifeforms outside his own, intensified tenfold.

After his stint as tube police chief, he eventually rose to become the overriding leader of the entire Termight empire, with the assistance of his superficially religious police force The Terminators. Later in the series he became a powerful phantom like figure after losing his physical form in a bizarre teleporting accident. He continued his existence and zealous quest through the possessing of a succession of host bodies, though these would have to be replaced often as the host itself would rot at an escalated rate.

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The majority of Nemesis’ crusade appeared as “Books” with the odd short story intercutting in various annuals, one-offs and specials. Book one entitled “The World Of Termight” introduced the leading players and set the scene for the epic galaxy spanning war. Each subsequent book would add more layers to the expansive storyline, culminating in book ten, “The Final Conflict” which saw both Nemesis and Torquemada killed at the culmination of the tale.

Like most of Pat Mills creations (Judge Dredd especially) he drew on real world politics and inherent human prejudices of the unknown. Nemesis spoke on many literary levels other than the ones accepted in the comic strip at face value. Bigotry, hatred and fascism were all explored in detail, and none of the leads were of great moral fibre, including our “hero” Nemesis, who is tainted by much the same abhorrence and repugnance as his arch enemy Torquemada, ultimately leaving this dystopian story exceedingly ambiguous.

Splundig Vur Thrigg…

Great British Comic-Book Characters: Judge Dredd Lives!

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Iconic British anthology comic 2000AD has been administering thrill power to the masses since its inception in 1977. It not only succeeded in presenting to the world seminal characters like Judge Dredd, Zenith and Nemesis the Warlock, but also helped launch into the spotlight some of the greatest British writers and artists in comic book history, luminaries such as Brian Bolland, Pat Mills, Alan Grant, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Simon Bisley. American comic book companies like DC and Marvel have been mining these outstanding British talents to great effect since then on titles that include Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke, V For Vendetta and many, many others too numerous to mention.

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1975 and Kevin Gosnell, an editor at IPC Magazines commissioned the freelance writer Pat Mills, who had previously created weekly adventure comic Action, to develop a new science fiction based anthology comic which he hoped would ride on the wave of popularity of forthcoming Sci-Fi blockbuster movies. Pat Mills brought in another freelancer, John Wagner as adviser and together they began to create characters for the new publication. The futuristic sounding name of 2000AD was then chosen, with the failure rate of new comics in the UK at a high, no-one ever expected the title to ever last past that date. How wrong they were… thankfully.

The debut issue of 2000AD hit the British newsagents on the 26 February 1977, consisting of a line up of four separate stories, Harlem Heroes, Flesh, M.A.C.H 1, and 50’s British Science Fiction icon Dan Dare who was revived from ten years in limbo after his original home publication Eagle Comics shuttered in 1967.

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There was another character who also made his first appearance in the new anthology comic, he would go on to be one of only two characters to appear in nearly every issue of 2000AD since its inception (the other being Dredd.) Tharg The Mighty was created by Pat Mills as the fictional editor of the comic, an alien who hailed from the planet Quaxxann in Betelgeuse, Tharg writes the comics introduction, answers questions from its readership (whom he originally referred to as ‘Earthlets’) and gives out prizes to readers who suggested stories and sent in artwork (prizes could be given in pound sterling or Tharg’s own currency of galactic groats.) Tharg would oversee the ‘Thrill Power’ quotient of each comic and led a team of creative robots who supplied the art and stories for each issue (with each robot resembling their real life counterpart.)

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Tharg The Mighty Dispensing ‘Thrill Power’

2000AD creator Pat Mills’ writing had a strong anti-authoritarian vibe and attitude that was popular amongst his legion of readers and fans, but he also noted the effect that more authority based characters had on his readership after the creation of the Dirty Harry inspired maverick cop One-Eyed Jack by fellow 2000AD creator John Wagner for Valiant Comics, a boys adventure publication which ran between 1962 and 1976. This character was the beginning blocks of Britain’s biggest ever comic book export, the uber violent, no nonsense lawman of the future… Judge Dredd.

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Dredd made his first appearance in Prog #2 of 2000AD, a tough cop who resides in the dystopian futuristic metropolis of Mega City One. Initially designed by Wagner and named after an abandoned horror strip character created by Pat Mills about a hanging Judge named ‘Dread.’  Spanish artist Carlos Ezquerra was tasked with visualising the character, and based his first designs on the the movie character Frankenstein from the 1975 cult hit ‘Death Race 2000.’ Dredd has gone on to appear in every single issue of 2000AD since that time. In 1983 he broke into the highly lucrative comic book market in America with his own series simply titled ‘Judge Dredd’ which consisted of reprints of his earlier adventures in 2000AD. In 1990 Dredd received his own title in the UK, ‘Judge Dredd – The Megazine’ written by his creator John Wagner.

Judge Dredd vs his nemesis Judge Death

Judge Dredd battles his nemesis Judge Death

Judge Joseph Dredd is the most celebrated and feared of Mega City’s Judges, tasked with bringing the law to the innumerable criminals in the teeming metropolis, literally Judge, Jury and executioner, with the power to instantly dispense justice as he sees fit. Patrolling the streets on his Lawmaster motorcycle, which comes equipped with machine guns, a laser cannon and an artificial intelligence that can pacify crowds and perform other innumerable tasks. All judges come equipped with the Lawgiver sidearm, designed to only recognise its parent Judge’s palm print and able to fire six different kinds of ammunition, including armour piercing and heat seeking rounds. Dredd and his brother Rico were cloned from the DNA of Chief Judge Fargo, Mega City’s original Chief Judge, and the name Dredd was given to them by Morton Judd the genetic scientist who created them, to “instill fear in the populace.”

Dredd continues to dispense justice in 2000AD and The Megazine in the UK, and has been the star of two movies, the much maligned “Judge Dredd” from 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone, and the more recent (and a hell of a lot better) “Dredd” portrayed by New Zealand actor Karl Urban (which I reviewed right here

2012 movie 'Dredd' is as close to its source material as any fan could hope.

2012 movie ‘Dredd’ is as close to its source material as any fan could ever hope.

Tharg’s Catchphrase Dictionary:

Tharg the mighty not only brought fantastic characters and thrill-power to the universal masses, but also his own dialect which most 2000AD die-hards (myself included) use on a regular basis. So to induct those Terrans that have never spoken Quaxxiann, we proffer a list of his most widely used and popular catchphrases and their Terran translations.

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“Borag Thungg Earthlet” – Greetings Human.

“Zarjaz” – Excellent.

“Krill Tro Thargo” – Honoured by Tharg.

“Florix Grabundae” – Many Thanks.

“Nonscrot” – Someone who doesn’t read 2000AD.

“Scrotnig” – Exciting or amazing.

“Squaxx Dek Thargo” – Friend of Tharg.

“Splundig Vur Thrigg” – Goodbye.

 

Florix Grabundae’ to everyone who has followed this series so far, and in our next instalment we will be looking at the other classic characters that make up the UK’s biggest selling comic, especially personal favourites, Nemesis the Warlock and Rogue Trooper. So until that time, have a ‘Zarjaz’ day and ‘Splundig Vur Thrigg’ fellow ‘Squaxx Dek Thargo.’

2000AD, Judge Dredd, Harlem Heroes, Dan Dare, M.A.C.H 1, Flesh and Tharg are copyright: Rebellion 2015.