This has got to be one of the best - yet strangest - series ever to run in the pages of the top-selling UK comic, 2000AD. The last man, an astronaut, survives the destruction of earth by strange wasp-like beings. He is captured and sent to the slave markets. He gets into a fight with one of the other inmates... who promptly kills him! Trust me, I haven't spoilt anything here - that's literally the first two pages. But it gives a good idea of why this series seems so fresh and invigoratingly unpredictable. "SHAKARA!", cries the alien protagonist - "SHAKARA!" No other words. Is it his name? His species? Or something more sinister? Fighting the powerful all over the galaxy, armed with little more than a handgun and a shipful of strange new technology, he/she/it quickly blazes a trail to the top of the Galaxy's Most Wanted list... Top creative team Morrison and Flint create a universe ruled by psychotic, illustrated in black-and white with spashes of red, that draws you in and won't let you go. With a new series being launched next year, this is the perfect chance for newcomers to get into the glorious battle. SHAKARA!
Excellent artwork and a frantic story line combine to take me back to my childhood, huddled over sci-fi greatness in 2000AD. Whilst I wasn't reading the comic when SHAKARA was published it has all the ingredients for a great saga. Henry Flint's artwork is drop dead gorgeous, the detail fantastic and quirky story. It all combines to engage and leave me want more. As an introduction I was reminded (being old enough to remember) of Nemesis' start and the strange alure of the anti-hero. I can't wait for the next volume. My only suggestion would be that unless you're bothered by the marginal scaling of the artwork I'd buy 'SHAKARA The Avenger'. That volume has the collected stories, not this volume; I've got them both sitting in front of me.
Seems like I'm disagreeing with a lot of other people but I didn't enjoy this at all. Maybe there is a greater story arc that occurs in subsequent volumes but this is almost a straight re versioning of how the Nemesis franchise started:
Unknown alien fighting against the powers that be in a strange ship saying only one word throughout the whole affair except in this instance it's Shakara rather than Nemesis.
Even the artwork is similar to Kevin O'Neil's except in certain instances it's not as easy to see.
The story itself is pretty flimsy and one dimensional on the whole and I would suggest spending your money on some other quality 2000AD titles.
"It's name is Shakara - and it will not be stopped!"
The British weekly comic anthology 2000AD has produced some excellent and, as it turned out, timeless characters. Most are familiar with Judge Dredd, who made his appearance in 1977, and more than a couple of people have heard of A.B.C Warriors and Rogue Trooper. Caballistics, Inc. is increasing its fan-base beyond the comic (and is also reviewed here in Pantechnicon). Prestigious writers and artists such as Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore have contributed greatly to its success.
One of the most original pieces to materialise in the pages of 2000AD is Shakara, a quirky sci-fi serialised over eight issues, and recently released in stylish hardcover format. The premise is simple: in a war-torn universe, a lone figure begins to right a terrible wrong. It is jagged, robotic figure with circular red eyes, carrying a pair of angry-looking melee weapons. It is silent, but for the one word that it utters at the apex of every bloody battle: Shakara!
The linear storyline is wonderfully compelling and very smoothly delivered, primary through dialogue. A picture, of course, tells a thousand words, and Henry Flint's modish art style is clear and detailed. Unusually, every page begs to be examined thoroughly, if you can bear to slow down the telling of the story. Splashes of colour in a deliberately greyscale strip accentuate every salient point as the admittedly straightforward plot unfolds; but it is not necessarily the plot that makes Shakara so engaging, but rather the mysterious and deadly protagonist along with the host of bizarre characters that get in his way.
For example: the slug-crab in a tube of fluid that tries to auction the last surviving member of the human race to the highest bidder. The skinny psychic with an eyeball for a head. The race of creatures that discover their whole world is the back of another alien, who meets the wrong end of the protagonist's pulsing red laser blade. There's more, but to elaborate would spoil some of the surprises. Needless to the say, the monochromatic colour-scheme doesn't restrict the visuals in term of imagination or style. Morrison takes full advantage of the peculiarity of his creations, and draws out the potential of the comedy as much as the action and drama. Taken as a whole, from the first few apparently random encounters between the protagonist and the varied species of aliens, to the concluding pages when the separate tales enmesh and the overarching story begins to reveal itself in full.
The only question would be the price. It is only a short read, despite how enthralling and entertaining it is throughout, and paying a tenner for what is essentially only a fifty page comic book. There is some bonus material, and it is a high quality book with a hardback binding and high resolution glossy pages. And (don't tell the publishers) you can always get it cheap on eBay.
It sounds like a low-point on which to end the review, but all in all this is a brilliant, original piece of fiction. The stylish artwork and snappy dialogue is unparalleled in both the British and the American markets. Find this online, get yourself a pristine copy, and find somewhere quiet to enjoy it. Then, a few weeks later, read it again.