Top critical review
15 people found this helpful
Mudane Slaine overworking a now tired style
on 7 August 2011
This contains 3 unrelated Slaine 4-Prog shorts from 2000AD: "The Gong Beater", "The Smuggler", "The Exorcist" and a 3-Prog strip "The Mercenary". All are written by Pat Mills (natch) and paint'n'photoshopped by Clint Langley in his now somewhat waringly familiar "Book of Invasions" photo/art blending style, with help from John Hicklenton. No extra materials or notes other than an unremarakble introduction by Hicklenton but some nice sketches and full page spreads.
Scriptwise there is nothing special here. The most interesting is probably the final "Slaine: The Mercenary" strip, for the historical authenticity of the depicted "Murderball" game played by Celtic warriors before a battle to warm/blood up and psych out the opponents. Otherwise it is formulaic demon-slaying fanatasy tales pottering along going nowhere and lacking the cultural and pagan depth of previous Slaine.
Artwise, yes its pretty but doesn't really add anything to the Invasions art. I consider Ledroits traditional "Requiem:Vampyre Knight" illustrations , and even the early Dark Horse Conan pencils more impressive and rewarding than these Langleys photomontages.
The point of comics is that you can do anything. Blow up planets, massive battle scenes, outrageous monsters, impossible acrobatics and physiques. There are no constraints other than the artists drawing talent and the scripters imagination. But with Langley's new style, which increasingly feels like a photostrip, we see only that which can be easily photographed. So nobody rides horses and the human casts are limited and invariably inhabit open spaces. Since fully drawn human faces would not match the photographed visages, Slaine tends to be fighting reptile men and demons. Human characters very rarely occlude eachother and there is no possibility of the intwined and crossing limbs fight poses that form such a mainstay of conventional comiic slugfests. The charaters are almost always backgound-seperated and posed in insolation. No shadows or lighting. Once you have noticed this, it starts to grate and it is impossible not to recognise the style for what it really is. Ultra-cheap cut'n'paste animation that, while providing easy eye candy, ultimately leads the genre into a dead end. The future of CGI comics is 3D scene renders.
Summary: Its definately worth buying this book if you like Slaine because some of the images are undeniably strong and the book is very nicely produced with a robust hardcover and quality glossy colour stock. But there is nothing here to think about or serve the saga so I was essentially dissappointed with the work. I'm keen to see what the next artist will do with Slaine.