Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pat Mills - more scans, more opinions

Over on the 2000 AD online website there's a small debate about the genius or otherwise of Pat Mills, in particular whether his new stuff is as good as his old stuff. I've posted here before about why I think Mills is a genius, but with a few more back progs under my belt, let's add a bit more fat to the fire, eh? Although to be honest, I think a lot it can be summed up by the fact that when looking through back Progs to find classic 2000 AD pictures, moments and dialogue, Mills has an extremely high rate of delivery. See above for an example!

Of course, Mills isn't just about throwing out crazy ideas. There's also the odd bit of politics. Check out this incarnation of Torquemada (from 1989, I believe), dressed up as a neo-nazi, but looking remarkably like one Tony Blair...

In that particular book of Nemesis (IX), Torquemada, Nemesis and Purity all end up in England just slightly in the future. Torquemada rises quickly through the ranks of police chief to politiian, while Nemesis hangs out in goth clubs. The art by Hicklenton was fun but often confusing, what with all the girls looking very similar, and the sense of the story made harder to unpick with there being at least two incarnations of Torquemada around - or at least, I think there were two. Anyway, there's some violence, some student drama, and generally everyone is lambasted by Mills except Purity Brown, who is all moral-high-ground after finding out that Nemesis is evil.

It's no secret that Mills is all about the women. Which is to say, he supports the idea that women should be / actually are in charge; men just think it's the other way around. Or something like that. Maybe he doesn't think that at all, he just thinks it's an interesting hook for some of his stories to explore. Who knows?

Of course, a more casual browsing of many Mills stories will reveal a penchant for manly men. The likes of Slaine, Finn, Savage and Defoe are the sort who will get wade into a fight first and ask questions later. Actually, none of these characters are that interested in asking questions - that's women's work. They won;t even lift a finger to help unless they can see some immediate gain in it. I love this sequence from Dungeons & Dragons era Slaine, in which he ends up saving the day, but only because it happens to suit his frame of mind...

Slaine and Finn have certain features in common, but I for one am sad that Finn was apparently put aside in favour of Slaine. They could have both kept going, couldn't they? I guess the surface similarities were too off-putting. Namely, both characters are essentially stupid manly men, who charge into battle at the behest of a (the?) goddess. But beyond that it's quite different, isn't it? Slaine stories sometimes have a sense of being a bit anti-progress and anti-civilisation. Finn on the other hand is firmly rooted in civilisation, and seems to be more concerned with being anti-corporate. Also, just because of the modern-day setting, Finn has the freedom to pick on different targets than Slaine, such as this brief exchange:

Mills writes a sensitive hero, too, looking to the likes of the ABC Warriors, MACH One and Greysuit, although of course the violence is never far away; it's just accompanied by questions and the odd shedding of tears.

The other great thing about certain Mills heroes, be they sensitive or brutish, is just quite how stupid they are. As a rule, I like to get behind a character who can outsmart as well as outdraw his enemies (see Johnny Alpha, Judge Dredd and even Rogue Trooper for classic examples). Sure, Mills occasionally shows his heroes outwitting their foes, but just as often he'll show how brute force is often just more important than being wily. One is reminded of Flesh Book 3, in which the newly evolved 'smart' dinosaurs are no match for the slavering hordes.

The remarkable thing for me is that these buffoons can end up so likeable and readable. In real life, I wouldn't want to be in the company of any Mills creation, except perhaps MACH One, mostly because they'd beat me up just for being a bit of a wimp. But I can still get behind them, or at least be fascinated by them, in the stories Mills tells. Weird. Here's Finn, being the kind of man I absolutely hate in the real world, but somehow comes across as deeply enviable in this small comedy sequence. Wish fulfillment?


Post a Comment

<< Home