Long Gone Don and The Terror-Cotta Army (The Phoenix presents)

Bursting forth from the pages of the Phoenix, courtesy of the frenetic imaginations of the Etherington Brothers comes this second collection of tales starring a young boy who accidentally dies eating oxtail soup and must navigate a mysterious afterworld in order to try and get home. But should the Etherington’s unconventional hero remain long gone?

Publisher: The Phoenix presents
Writer: Robin Etherington
Artist: Lorenzo Etherington
Price: £8.99 from Amazon

Long Gone Don And The Terror-Cotta Army tells the story of Don, an ordinary young boy who finds himself on an extraordinary adventure when he is accidentally killed by drowning in soup and is somehow transported to the unusual world of Broilerdoom. However, things go from bad to worse for Don when he makes the big mistake of voting in this new world’s election and voting against the tyrannical General Spode. Now, with the aid of his guide Castanet and the rebellious ‘irregulars’ of Safina, Lewd and Viktor, Don must stay one step ahead of Spode and his rather incompetent forces to stay alive, liberate Broilerdoom and, if he’s lucky, find a way home.

As with all the best classic all-ages comics, from Asterisk to the Beano, the main draw of this book is its humour. Every single panel seems to have been filled with jokes, wise cracks and one-liners guaranteed to make you laugh out loud – from the circumstances surrounding Don’s death to the climatic battle and beyond. This makes Long Gone Don is an incredibly fun and light-hearted read, which feels like it not only takes inspiration in it’s style and tone from classics like Asterix, but ends up becoming a natural successor to Gosciny and Uderzo’s legendary Gaul with it’s high energy hilarious approach.

The plot here is a simple enough one, although it can be a bit difficult to follow given how much detail fills every panel. However, it’s definitely the fun aspect that the book keeps you reading, with all the characters being imbued with different, but equally hilarious personalities. Chief among them are Don’s buddy Castanet, who’s fearful approach to everything makes for some funny events to happen. But the rest of the cast are equally as important here, even smaller players like a very sarcastic member of the crowd in the hanging scene.

The art, meanwhile, from Lorenzo Etherington has an energy and detail to it that is very much in the spirit of Uderzo’s classic work, but with a very contemporary edge. He puts his own unique stamp on the world of Don and co with some incredibly over the top designs for the creatures, locations and people throughout. This really helps create a rich, colourful, ‘fun’ world for readers to immerse themselves in, especially with a colour pallette which, while looking more traditional and pastelly than more modern comics, still manages to looks brighter and so really lets the world stand out. This is no better exemplified than in the various location shots of the books, such as views of the Demon Drink and, more specifically, the first overhead shot of the Krapookerville Slums.

Long Gone Don can be best exemplified in one word; fun. The Etherington Brothers have created a truly all ages comic, full to the brim with colour, humour and light-hearted adventure and characters. And don’t worry if you haven’t read the first volume (although you’ll want to after reading this) as Long Gone Don And The Terror-Cotta Army is a perfect jumping on point and a comic which will appeal to anyone who enjoys a laugh and is worth reading a few times before passing it on your kids to show them how good comics can be.