Wednesday, July 04, 2007

This is bad: The new Harlem Heroes

OK, so I've been mean about the Harlem Heroes before, but it's now time to look in more detail at why Cyborg Death Trip, in particular, is really not very good.

I think the problem began before the story was even written, frankly. The cast of players are fun enough. A little 2000 AD-lite, but there was room for improvement. However, apart from Slice's short temper, these Heroes are just a bit too good. Good at their terrorist jobs, and good in their moral centre (on the 2000 AD assumption that being anti corporate government is good, of course). Anyway, what we have is a team of Aeroball playing terrorists, who need some kind of excuse to wreak havok and maybe bring down the corrupt government / evil corporation. Finding this excuse is the first hurdle. This being the second big story, inevitably a greater threat appears and the Heroes are coerced into helping the evil corporation against this threat. So we've already lost a farily big part of their motivation straight up.

How do you coerce an aeroball team into doing anything? Lure them into an abandoned stadium. And then make them fight / play aeroball against some souped up cyborg opponents, being sure to throw in a pun so bad I'm not sure it even counts as a pun:

Sometimes when you're mocking a weak comic series, you don't even have to add in any extra comment...

If I remember from Bishop's old Thrill-Power Overload entries in the Megazine (can't wait to get my hands on the newly-published book), Michael Fleisher wrote the script for this story almost immediately after the first series finished. He then submitted it, largely unsolicited, and it was never edited or touched again. And boy does that show. As it is, the story remains one that is lots of fun for the now small number of 2000 AD readers who are under 10 years old. For anyone older, it's either annoying, unreadable, or most likely so bad it's good.

Look, here's the Heroes enjoying some downtime before the mayhem kicks in:

Kev Hopgood, an artist I love, began the task of drawing the strip. Now, Hopgood is one of the kings of storytelling, but he's also a little childish for 2000 AD - at least, as it was back in the mid 90s. His Heroes work is easy to look at, there are some great grimaces, but really it's very retro but not in a nostalgic way, more in a 'oops I've been left behind' way. Worse, one gets the distinct impression that between the writer and artist, the whole thing was sketched out in rough first with a view to tidying it and jazzing it all up later.

Hence the rather large number of panels showing evil people behind the scenes pressing buttons...
A panel patented by Carlos Ezquerra on the iconic cover to Prog 245

Anyway, in an effort to spice things up, then fledgling art droid Siku was called in to paint over Hopgood's work. It's a pretty weird effect, and one that put me off Siku for a while. When he's on his own it all makes a bit more sense. Next time we'll have a look at that, shall we?


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