Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Indigo Prime: Perfect Day

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 Indigo Prime: Perfect Day (Rebellion, 2014).

Every once in an agonizingly long while, we get a new appearance from one of my favorite comic series. It's a very weird mindblower of a concept called Indigo Prime, written by John Smith and appearing in the pages of the Galaxy's Greatest Comic, 2000 AD. The sci-fi weirdness concerns a busy bunch of interdimensional troubleshooters protecting the multiverse from existential and bizarre threats while punching the clock, processing work orders, and watching walls of television with millions of channels across the whole of time and space.

After a 1991 curtain call, the series returned in 2008 and again in 2011 (stories collected in 2013's book version, Anthropocalypse), leaving the faithful and the frustrated anxiously waiting for more. Happily, they're back in action right now in the pages of 2000 AD, a couple of weeks in to what I believe is an eight-part story. It's called "Perfect Day" and it's illustrated by Lee Carter, and it's every bit as wonderful and unpredictable as we'd hoped.

Carter, who had designed the series' current lead characters for what everybody thought was a different series entirely - that's one of Indigo Prime's tricks, popping in and out of different titles altogether - has a tough job in following Edmund Bagwell, the artist who made the 2011 stories so beautiful. Bagwell is a hard act to follow, but Carter, who gets better and better with every new art job, seems up to the task. As was expected, Smith has been throwing a lot of deliciously weird imagery at Carter to realize - time tunnels, taxidermist-stuffed monarchs, Roman legions, that aforementioned wall of television monitors - and, two weeks in, Carter has been nailing it and throwing in some unusual Easter eggs. The 2011 stories showed that there was a strange and malicious force called The Nilhist hiding behind the walls of the agents' reality. We're getting hints here and there that it might be slowly breaking through. Meanwhile, agents Redman and Dak have been escorting a very old Nazi superscientist from his dimension to Prime's base of operations at the center of time. They're probably right not to trust him one teeny bit...

As I've said before, Indigo Prime would definitely benefit, going forward, from more one-offs and short tales letting us know more about the players before things get too weird and ragnarok starts thundering down again. It's interesting that Danny Redman and Unthur Dak have become the series' leads over the characters who were more established in the original run. Those few that have turned up, like the popular Max Winwood and Ishmael Cord, have been relegated to supporting players, suggesting just how very busy this agency is. I imagine that Basalt, Foundation, Fervent, Lobe, and all those other characters from the late '80s are still working cases, just not ones that we're seeing presently.

While I'm glad that the series is back for a couple of months, I genuinely wish that it hadn't been two and a half totally dry years. With a cast as large as any in comics, surely we could have had an occasional one-shot featuring one of the series' minor players or old stars in place of a Future Shock, or a short story in place of one of these often tedious three-week Tharg's 3rillers. Five pages in the annual December 100-page issue isn't too much to ask, surely? "Perfect Day" is great and promising, but Smith and 2000 AD's editor should definitely agree that, where this series is concerned, more is definitely much, much more. Highly recommended with the hopes of extra weirdness and character development to come.

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