Tuesday, January 10, 2006


G. kindly leant The Originals, written and drawn by Dave Gibbons (of Watchmen and DWM1 fame). His unique, chunky style is like an old friend, but I don’t think I’ve ever read something he’s wrote before.

It’s a competent and well-drawn story, effectively mods and rockers fighting over each others’ space-bikes. The juxtaposition works well, sci-fi props (the hover bikes, the far-out designer drugs) playing off a firm grounding in nostalgia (the mods, the suburban setting and, I guess, teen-angst and Gibbons’s own art-style). It’s got the requisite sex and violence for a “grown-up” comic, and it rumbles along quiet nicely.

But it didn’t feel very original. It’s Quadrophenia with space-bikes – the space-bikes not quite enough a twist.

Never really understood the appeal of Quadrophenia, anyway. Yes, Phil Daniels delivers a brilliant angry young man. But one desperately needing a slap. Never bought the “truth” of his horror when he finds that his idol (a peacock played, ably, by Sting) has a day-job.

Yeah, it’s got the anger of teenagerdom right, but even in my teens it rang hollow. Another stroppy, sulky kid who thinks he’s owed something for nothing. Just not… compelled by the betrayal of Sting “selling out” as a hotel porter, kow-towing to The Man. Nor am I bovvered by Phil’s subsequent choice (AIUI) to live free or die.

Not very groovy of me, I know. But then the real revelation of the film is that actually


(Was a hotel porter myself for a summer, when I was 17. Remember the amazement of mates – the ones who had money without working – at my knackeredness. “Couldn’t you do something else?” asked one. And as soon as I could, I did.)

Likewise, the bullying, vicious and manipulative thug at the heart of the Originals never won me over. As another character says at the end (who I’ll not name for spoilers), the bugger should just bloody grow up.

Of far more appeal is Fin Fang Four, leant by E. I’ve loved Scott Gray and Roger Langridge’s stuff (again in DWM), and it’s good to see them getting gigs with the yanks.

It’s a one-off story with a neat central wheeze – some rubbish monsters long since thrashed by the Fantastic 4 are released to work in the community. The monstrous Googam! son of Goom! parks cars for celebrities, while terrifying Elektro (with a brain of 32K) runs errands round an office, trying to summon enough courage to ask out the receptionist.

The gags come thick and fast throughout, and the thing zips along, building to a satisfying end. It might also win because it’s about these four rubbish blokes trying to make things right. Redemption’s more fun than fighting.

Inevitably there are websites discussing whether this silly take on such corny old monsters can possibly be canon. Pah. Besides “canon” being a silly idea anyhow, yes it should. Be a shame not to embrace stuff this good.

1 - Well, DWW, if you want to split hairs. He’s the bloke as drew the transfers free with issue 1, which I’ve always thought is a pretty marvellous thing to have on your CV. Transfers are cool.

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