Sunday, December 30, 2012

Shakara: The Destroyer

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Shakara: The Destroyer (volume two, Rebellion, 2012).

I am in a very small minority of 2000 AD readers when I say this, but good grief, Shakara slowly rumbled its way to an overlong and frankly conventional conclusion. It shouldn't have been like this. The second and third adventures for this weirdest of protagonists - a skinny, long-limbed, ultraviolent red-eyed beast inflicting almighty hell on a galaxy of equally weird antagonists - were joyful in their embrace of the bizarre and the outlandish. This was a series that was as unconventional as it was gorgeous.

Henry Flint, given the chance to draw a universe of incredibly weird, inhuman beings and technology, shined on every page, thanks to the writer, Robbie Morrison, trusting him to design and execute all of his wild concepts. Engine-driven planets, black hole hand grenades, clones from a million different dimensions, eyeball brains sitting in meditative repose over gangly shoulders... this was a series not at all afraid to think big and deliver.

And this made its perhaps inevitable decline all the more tragic. Shakara was a series that didn't provide many answers. All we needed to love it was to have a company of cyborg tyrannosaurs for the red-eyed screamer to slice in half. What we emphatically didn't need was for the red-eyed screamer to be met by a blue-eyed talker. No, sadly, the third story ended with the surprise appearance of a weird blue-and-black critter who was kind of like our protagonist, and the fourth explained, ad nauseum, that he was the true, lawful descendant of the long-dead Shakara race. As villains go, Cinnabar Brenneka was just about the most long-winded one possible.

David Tennant's third series of Doctor Who ended with Davros and the Daleks planning a convoluted thingumajig to end all of creation with a reality bomb or some such silliness, and, damnation, a dying Shakara in the fifth story is bent on stopping Brenneka from executing the same dratted thing. The comic looks beautiful, and there are ample sidebar weird concepts like an infinitely large arsenal hidden in a tesseract and a prison planet that terraforms itself to kill anybody sentenced to it, but at its core, this is a disappointing story about a bad guy who talks too damn much and speaks in the hoary language of generic sci-fi baddie. Very little here, in point of fact, hasn't been written before. It's recommended in small part for the artwork, because it's not much like anything ever seen before, at least.

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