Midnight Man: Gunspace.
Written by Mo Ali.
Arts and Design by Andy Bloor.
Published by Bad Mother Publishing.
(Plus extra pin-up by John McCrea).
The Story - 'Blasting into space in a retro-fitted Big Ben, time-travelling vigilante Midnight Man is off on another exciting adventure. Can he find the origins of the sinister time-corrupting cabal hounding him at every turn, saving humanity once and for all?
It's a metaphysical jaunt across the cosmos and beyond!
Strange beings and bizarre escapades, and a question that will ultimately question everything our hero believes in. Get ready for more TEMPORAL, BULLET, ACTION. Courtesy of Midnight Man. You're welcome.'
The Review - A good place to start with this review is the cover. They often don't get mentioned enough. This one is a cracker. It's a simple design that won't really be forgotten and features the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben is the large bell inside the tower by the way) taking off like Thunderbird Three into the sky. I've always thought that the dial of the clock looks like a big eyeball that is observing and judging the inhabitants of London (but maybe that's just my big city paranoia..?)
As I open the book and look at page one I immediately get a strong underground 1980s comix feel to the story. It's got that tripped out antiestablishment vibe to it's interiors. It also occurs to me that in this world of photoshop and the accompanying sharply coloured visuals that on occasion you need this heavy on the inks black and white artwork. Bloor is bold and in your face. Along with Ali he plays psychotic chess with the characters as he moves them about. He stamps his strong and broad mark on the page with a solid two tone/punk attitude.
Revolution on mushrooms is in the air in a story that could act as a bridge between V for Vendetta and Kirby's 2001. I've been waiting to see where Mo and Andy would take this character next. I was hoping that this anarchy would continue and I wasn't disappointed. The flow seems the same but they turn the strange meter up even further. I refuse to spoil too much but let me just tease the planet that is in the shape of an unborn child..... But to be honest, the visual of the icon of Westminster shooting through an asteroid field is enough. There is no doubt that this should be a story in 2000AD!
'Don't worry love, I'm used to disappointment. I'm from England.'
With this second instalment Mo and Andy begin to flesh out the wider mythos of MM and those with other iconic face markings (oh you tease!) But everyone in the story has a double edge and often a meta satirical one to slap some sense into you! A finger gets pointed at the reader both literally and figuratively. The characters know they are a story, they know the nature of the unreality. They relish in the playing with truth and fiction. A notice of intention unravels itself threatening to reveal all to those that watch or collaborate. This is as much a commentary on the nature of fiction than it is of the actual fiction it represents - yes, I know that's cryptic but you'll have to read it to discover anything near the truth or the whole truth.
A couple of small niggles are that the odd page seems a little sparse of words or images. These can be seen as maybe a chapter break but still managed to nudge me out of the story at moments. A couple of the snarks fall a tiny bit flat (the Twin Peaks comment may have been written before the current return to interest in the series but seemed ill-placed for example).
But overall it had some excellent moments. The encounter with the alternate universe 'Midnight Man' seemed to me reading it like a classy moment from a Jerry Cornelius novel (and there is no higher compliment than that!) Maybe a whiff of The Seventh Seal or a good Hawkwind album? This is the sort of experimentation I love to see. It's a bizarre cosmic ballet of strangeness and quark.
I bought my copy direct from the mighty Bloor at Nottinghm Comic Con. It came with a great colour print of MM by John McCrea. A black and white version of the same image can be found on the inside back cover.
Find out more about the writer Mo Ali and Andy Bloor at www.midnightman.bigcartel.com and buy a copy.
You can also find Mo at www.moali.co.uk or on Twitter @mo_ali
Find Andy at www.andrewbloor.blogspot.com or on Twitter @andybloor
Many thanks for reading.