Sunday, 10 February 2008

ICFD Cover of the Week.

I was having a messageboard discussion with a guy from The States a few days back, about this blog and about Marvel UK in general. He'd seen the link I'd put up to the Mark Harrison Loose Cannons series before Christmas, and had been quite impressed by it all. I'd mentioned that Harrison had also done some covers for Overkill, which were pretty good as well.

But he had no idea what I was talking about.

Not being native to the UK he'd never seen (and had never even heard of) Overkill Magazine. I tried to explain that it was an anthology title, in the style of 2000 AD, and that it printed many of the stories seen in the US format books only in shorter chunks, and fortnightly. (I then had to explain the term 'fortnightly,' but never-mind). He asked me if there was anywhere online that he could find some of the old cover art from Overkill, to see what he'd been missing.

And you know what? I couldn't really find any...

So, that got me thinking...

I've decided, that each week I'm going to dig out some of my old back issues, and scan in a cover to stick up on the blog. It won't always be Overkill, it might by some of the US format books, or an old Transformers comic. Maybe even an issue of Excalibur, who knows. But I hope that this might get a few people talking about it, and a few others reminiscing. There was a lot of good cover work done on Marvel UK comics, but I suppose because a lot of them were done for anthology titles, and for reprinting American material, they've kind of gone forgotten.

So, today I am going to start the ball rolling with an Overkill issue. This is the cover to Overkill #43:

And who better to go with but the poster child of Marvel UK in the 90s - a nice grim picture of Death's Head. This one's made up in oils, by the brilliant Carl Critchlow. It really gives the guy a three dimensional feel, with the texture of the bone and that big dead eye looking back at you.

Carl did some great cover work for Overkill, and I believe had been working on a filly-painted series for Marvel UK at the time it folded. I believe it had something to do with Dinosaurs. Maybe somebody else remembers more?

This was also the first monthly issue of Overkill, as you can see. Something I was a bit sad about at the time. I liked my fortnightly fix. How times have changed. Hell, I'd give anything for even a monthly fix nowadays... ;-)

Unrelated to this new feature, but worthy of note, I'd also like to take a moment to bring your attention to this week's release of Alan Davis' Clandestine #1 (of 5) from Marvel Comics.

Long standing M:UK fans will probably have already picked it up, but if you haven't then I really cannot recommend enough to you that you should give it a try. This first new issue does a brilliant job at both picking up where the last volume left off, and at being a refresher, for the uninitiated, as to who and what the Clan are.

It's a really strong issue, and so refreshing to see a proper balance between great art and non-compressed story-telling. That's something we don't often see in a lot of modern comics. Quite a lot of story is woven into this issue, but not at any point in a way which seems over-expositioned or clunky. It still flows smoothly. It's perhaps the kind of balance that only as an accomplished Artist and Writer as Davis, can truly achieve. It's certainly nice to see.

It's also great to see Davis being able to work comfortably in his own style, and with his own characters, here. I felt, personally, that Davis more recent work (Such as his last run on Uncanny X-Men) suffered a little due to Marvel's want for more realism and grittier colour schemes in their books. In my opinion, while Davis' work is never even close to bad, he does not play his strongest suit trying to fit into that. Here, he is in his element, and I'd even compare the quality and style to his Excalibur days - all be it with more modern colours.

Mark Farmer is responsible for the inks here. He too definitely deserves respect.

Story-wise, this issue sets up what appears to be three central stories for the run, incredibly well. By three I allude to 1) This Sect which appear to be discovering The Clan, 2) The family's struggle to stop the twins blowing their centuries old cover, and 3) What actually happened with the deceased (And never to be discussed son) Vincent.

I've always wondered about that, and we might get some answers here. Certainly watching as Walter 'hulks-up' (for want of a better term) in rage makes me wonder how much in common he and Vincent might actually have had.

It's a good issue. Good enough that I actually re-read it (This doesn't happen often in my current timescale). The synergy between family members is great to read. It reminds of the enthusiasm I had, as I learnt more about The Endless family, in Neil Gaiman's Sandman books. I really do look forward to the rest of this run. And I really hope it gets enough sales to get it continued.

Of course, the only thing that will make guarantee that happens is if people go out and buy it. So you know what to do ;-)


  1. I'm glad someone else remembers Overkill. I've just been re-reading the US versions of Digitek and decided to have a search for Overkill online, saldy not much comes up, but I'm glad I found this Blog dedicated to the UK corner of the MU, some great stuff here.

    I really hope that some of these old characters are brought back in the new Captain Britain series, it's been too long since we've seen Motormouth or the Mys-Tech crew. And I still don't believe Digitek really died in Civil War Frontline ;-)

  2. Digitek's reported death in Civil War raises two issues.

    1) How the hell is a British Citizen being jailed for not signing up to an American registration act?


    2) Can a man who is essentially little more than a soul i digital format, well-known for disassembling and reassembling new bodies for himself REALLY die?

    Who knows? But it could free him up for another future appearance.

    I too was rather disappointed in lack of presence Marvel UK has on the Internet. I remember looking around at the end of the 90s, when I first started coming online, that there were so relatively few resources out there. Almost a decade later that hasn't really changed an awful lot. And that's part of the reason I started this blog. I've been talking about it on Internet forums for years, and figured it might be a good idea to collect all those musing somewhere.

    At least a few people do seem to remember these characters, which is promising. Although I am always surprised how few recall Overkill.