When I was a nipper I used to read 2000AD. This was way before the turn of the millenium, when the year 2000 seemed a long way off. Its pages were packed with compactly but intricately drawn science fiction with the odd fantasy number like Slaine thrown in. I remember reading the first issue to feature Nemesis the Warlock, I remember the ABC Warrior, Rougue Trooper, Ace Trucking Co and of course Judge Dredd. Heck, if my mum hasn’t thrown them away, I still have some issues with Dan Dare in them- when the Eagle went out of print for a while, Dan Dare defected to 2000AD.
Shakara is a graphic novel that collects the series of the same name from the pages of 2000AD. Its a 2001 vintage, which is years after I stopped reading 2000AD but nevertheless it definitely has an old school feel to it.
The writer Robbie Morrison has paid his dues at 2000AD, he’s written Dredd, came up with the infamous Nikolai Dante and then gone on to write the Authority and Wildcats as well as stints on Batman and Spiderman. And lets face it, there can never be too many people with the surname Morrison in comics can there?
Its penned by Henry Flint, who manages to get the whole thing to look a lot like Nemesis the Warlock in terms of the out there beastial aliens and a lot of detail packed in to every panel. Although the plot is fairly straight forward the temptation to rattle through the 160 odd pages isn’t that strong as you really find yourself digesting each panel slowly to take in the artwork properly.
Its mostly in black and white, with some aspects like Shakaras eyes in colour- a conceit which works really well to highlight the otherness of the main character.
If I had to have some criticisms of the art work, some of it is a little derivative, the Shakara race themselves reminded me heavily of one particular member of the Celestials (http://www.immortalthor.net/bio-celestials.html#Gamiel the Manipulator) and a lot of the aliens seem to be tributes to various well known aliens. This is echoed in the naming of some of the characters, it’s obvious Morrison is a big fan of Dune as there are corruptions of Bene Gesserit and Fremen in the mix amongst others.
Fortunately the story more than makes up for it, a relentless tale of (initially) unexplained revenge by a spindly shaped robot like creature who only utters one word as it planet hops killing indiscrimately. You could level the criticism that its a little one dimensional but tales of revenge don’t really need to be too deep or meaningful. Yes, it does get sillier towards the end with giant robo-dinosaurs and assassins joining the fray but thats probably more to do with the original comic run being in 3 different stories rather than one long happening. It doesn’t detract too much from a read through in one or two sittings.
Definitely worth a read if you’re getting a bit bored with superheroes or zombies (which seem to be near ubiquitous at the moment).