Sunday, 24 February 2013

ICFD Cover of the Week - 24th February 2013

For this week's cover I have to admit to cheating a little bit...


Well this week's cover was never actually published. At least not in print form. But don't let that put you off, because it actually is readily available online.

Right back when I started this Blog (Ouch! Was that really 2007?) my first entry proper was a piece on a wonderful little series which, while advertised, never saw print before Marvel UK was closed.

Loose Cannons was a fully painted spin-off series from Marvel UK's Warheads - the book about the heavily armed dimension hopping units of the same name, who traversed Marvel's multiverse in order to claim artefacts and technology for the Mys-Tech corporation. 

The Warheads program comprised of a number of different troops sent out to secure different objectives, and explore different universes, each mostly named after the different 'emanations of God' from the Kabbalah. The main Warheads series principally focussed on, 'Kether Troop,' was fronted by Col. Tigon Liger - A grisly old action hero with half his face torn off. courtesy of Wolverine.

Loose Cannons was to introduce a new, all-female, faction by the name of 'Virago Troop,' fronted by Bodicea 'Bo' Kildare (front and centre), leading this new troop on similar kinds of missions. As the cover here shows (and I'm sure this won't exactly shock you, for a Dan Abnett Marvel UK book of this period) Death's Head II makes an appearance. As do a number of other familiar Marvel UK faces, from the logical periphery characters or the Warheads and the Mys-Tech board, to appearances from Evelyn Necker and Dark Angel. But what perhaps pleased me the most was that from the outset we had a further interaction with the cosmic elements of the greater Marvel Universe. The first issue opens with an encounter with the Shi'Ar, for example.

I love the artwork throughout this series, as with Harrison's work on a number of Overkill covers from the early 90s. It gives these characters a wonderfully three dimensional feel to them, in a way that regular comic book art of the period didn't. Back in the early 90s Marvel US was still very much a four colour world, barely even embracing airbrushing in its colouring. Yet here in Britain fully painted artwork wasn't exactly uncommon, and not just on cover work for that matter. It just seemed that we were streets ahead of our cousins across the Atlantic. Seeing explosions, or lightning, rendered like on the cover above was like associating in a totally different world.

The pairing of Mark Harrison's artwork with Dan Abnett writing will be greatly familiar to readers of 2000 AD, of course. The pair had quite notable success working on Durham Red, using a similar aesthetic. This series actually pre-dates that. Arguably it was probably the running of those Loose Cannons adverts in Marvel UK books which in part helped Harrison get work at 2000 AD. And we're damned glad he did. 

So, yes, unpublished in print. However, still readily available for viewing online. It's been a few years since I posted a link to it, but back in 2005 Mark Harrison posted a version of the complete 4 issue series online. The final 10 pages of issue 4 exist as storyboards, as the art was never completed before the axe fell. But they're perfectly readable, and I'd certainly recommend checking them out.

The series can be found here:


  1. I remember this been advertised back in the day along with 'Roid Rage (possibly) and never knew it was in the wild. I'm looking forward to having a read of this tomorrow.

    It's a real shame some of the Marvel UK 90's stuff will never be re-released. I'd love trades of Dark Angel, Mys-Tech Wars (amazing Bryan Hitch art work), Digitek (the art to that was sublime). I suppose there's a chance Death's Head II may get a reappearance one day, the sooner the better really.

  2. Paul Cornell was nice enough to give DHII, Dark Angel and Digitek a few panel in the final issue of Captain britain and MI13, but I'm not daft enough to expect any of these guys to get another outing any time some.

    It's a shame. Because conceptually I personally feel all three are perfectly viable characters for modern day use.

    With Marvel re-exploring cosmic stories this year - through a new Guardians of the Galaxy series (Leading on towards the movie in development), a new Nova, and Iron Man doing space stories too - you'd think a girl who is bonded to a thread of the Universe itself (Dark Angel) would be ripe for that.

    Then there's Digitek. Digitek effectively became a fully digital life form. While the concept of a guy who could transfer himself down phone lines might have seemed ridiculously far fetched in the pre-widespread internet days of the early 90s, is it quite so far fetched today? I mean, sure the actual digitising of a human form part! :) But in a world where data networks, from wifi to mobile networks, interweave across such huge percentages of land, in so many Countries, just imagine what Digitek could do. Appear anywhere. Maybe be in several places at once. The guy could literally spread his presence like a virus around any system in the world.

    I hope we see them again some day. Granted, Warheads was always a little more 2000 AD than Marvel in fell and tone, but even they could have a place in modern Marvel, somewhere. The only question for me would be as to how we'd get the powers that be interested in making it happen.