The newest issue of the UK anthology comic, FutureQuake Summer Special, offers up it’s usual mix of sci-fi stories for all comers, with time travelling twists, alien contact of another kind and science gone wrong, often done with their tongues firmly ensconced in their cheeks.
Price: £6.00 from the Future Quake Store
As a kid, summer only really arrived once we had scooped up a copy of The Beano Summer Special, a jam-packed extra sized comic that we would be able to take with us wherever we went. So it’s good to see this tradition continue with a FutureQuake Summer Special (issue 29, to be specific), a 96 page B+W anthology of sci-fi stories produced by a variety of creators and ready to hit the shelves shortly.
FutureQuake clearly has echoes of 2000 AD, with it’s mix of both serious and silly sci-fi, such as the opening offering, Idea Space – Hel Comes to Baltitown, a snappy inter dimensional joyride in which we meet two investigators travelling to Birmingham (and rocking up at Nostalgia and Comics in the process), there to hunt down their prey, a walking, talking experiment out to have a good time. As a regular customer at Nostalgia and Comics, it made it all the more fun to read especially when seeing the shop and two of the three Davids who work there, (who are as much a part of the building and its history as the bricks and mortar). They are accurately realised by artist, Alex Paterson, a longtime contributor to previous FutureQuake issues, working from a JJ Robinson script and you will soon realise, it’s not a one-off story like many of the others in this Summer Special, but a continuation of a series with plans to collect into a book down the line. For now, though, coming into an ongoing story we found it not as easy to get on board as the other strips. As one of the stand out strips in this collection, we would have appreciated a quick resume of previous instalments, but the characters peaked our interest enough to look forward to a time when we can sit down and read the whole story in one go.
There are more serious strips too, but even then, they don’t take themselves too seriously, such as the strip Second Chances (writer Alex Charles and artist Boy Phaff), following an ex-assassin who finds himself the target for assassination. Chuck in a bit of quantum theory, and hey presto, a story with a satisfying twist.
As well as time twisters and inter dimensional travel, there are aliens too and a different kind of alien invasion story that doesn’t rely on the usual cliched tropes involving huge space armadas, big guns and even bigger testosterone infused action in Men In Green (writer River Apparicio and artist Marc Ducrow), a much more underplayed story of would-be alien conquest. While, in The Healers (writer Mike Kalin and artist Rafael Chrestani), Earth welcomes the aliens and their healing powers. But, at what cost?
Science goes wrong in strips like Bait & Switch (writer: Fred Francis, artist: Kieran Squires), while it’s food that goes wrong in These Things Happen (Writer: Dominic Teague, Artist: Roland Bird) suggesting that even those most utopian of future societies hold culinary catastrophes that leave Mad Cow’s Disease looking enviously on.
With its mix of clever writing and moments of humour along the way, this all adds up to make a fun, summertime read. Like a good drama, it knows when to throw you a funny bone or two, to alleviate the tension created by some of the more down and dirty strips on offer. Get ready and grab your issue from your local comic book store or through the FutureQuake website here. 96 pages for £6.00. Not bad for this first issue of the new look FutureQuake, and a good jumping on point for new readers too.
Author: Olly MacNamee
Olly MacNamee teaches English and Media, for his sins, in a school somewhere in Birmingham. Some days, even he doesn’t know where it is. Follow him on twitter @ollymacnamee or read about his exploits at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or don’t.