Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Did my customary dip into the back issue box and came up with this corker. Only a few weeks away from it being taken off the shelves and boy can you see why.
Straight in with the start of "Kids Rule - OK" and it starts off as it mean to goes on - within 5 panels we've got the set-up of all the adults dying and the main characters watching their teacher rot away, within its 4 pages we've got the rivalries established and the two gangs introduced. Again, as an adult, its incredible how much information could be gotten across back then in such a small amount of space. Didn't really like this strip as a 14 year old and still don't. There's no-one to emphasise with as they're all a pretty rotten bunch and the whole thing comes across as being nasty for nasties sake, with the creators pushing to see what they could get away with and trying to top each vicious set piece.
"Dredger" has art that's picked up immensily from prior issues. Its still a bit dodge here but it kinda fits with the trippy, hallucinatory elements. Again, a self contained, entertaining tale in just THREE pages. Dredger's on top form here - Breed has to pretend to be the hostage and when asks Dredger won't folk see that he's the actual one, Big D bops him on the nose so the blood'll disguise him. Classic.
Jumping over a dull "Death Race 1999" we go into "Hookjaw" and the gore hits 11. Its the final showdown between the Beastie and Rick Mason and, over two pages, we see his foot come off, him get impaled, his arm come off and finally beheaded. It was an audacious move to have the hero character not only be dispatched but to have it take up two thirds of this issues page count. As shocking as it is, it would've been far, far more (and am thinking maybe unpublishable) if the art was of the quality of the first few issues.
"Hell's Highway" next and, again, one i never got into, for the same reason as "Kid's". But it does have this indelible image, one that's stayed with me all these years.
After that, "Look Out For Lefty!", "Hellman" and "Green Grudge's War" kinda fade into the background, with stories and art that just can't compete with what's just come before. Its like they're from a totally different comic.
To sum up, a classic issue which can stand up there as a true representitive of the title.
Strangely, for such an action packed, violent issue there's just the almost "Aaaaeee!" from Rick as he's hooked on Hookjaw's hook and an elongated "Aieeeeeeeee!" from a Russian as he falls out of a barn in "Hellman" (it was a long drop).
Do like the really rather special