Review: Plagued Volume 2: The Miranda Chronicles and Freedom Bound from BHP Comics

Scottish indie publisher BHP Comics, have evolved from a ‘little-company-who-could’, into a real player in the UK comics scene. With a roster featuring big name titles like John Wagner’s Rok of The Reds or the Frank Quitely Sketchbook, through to socially conscious books like Full Colour and small press superstars like Killtopia.  We take a look at two of the other books joining their ranks: Plagued volume 2 and Freedom Bound!

Plagued volume 2: The Miranda Chronicles

Although it’s a book about a dystopian future where the world has been ravaged by plague, and magical witches have been blamed for the devastation, Plagued is actually a very enjoyable and rather endearing all ages YA book. Mackie is is a former employee of Reneco, the global company who runs the world, and he also has a talking dog called Dex, which unwittingly signals him out to be a witch. His other partner in crime is Miranda, who he met in volume 1, a witch who is looking who cure the plague and also fix her people’s broken reputation. The pair go around doing good deeds and trying to cure the plague while being pursued by nefarious bounty hunters. It all feels a bit Saturday morning cartoon adventure in places, as the pair help people and are pursued by various villains, and it is that caper element makes Plagued such a readable and enjoyable book. With Plagued, writer Gary Chudleigh has created a really smart central concept, which means he can build a well thought out world around it and full it with a really fun group of characters for his stories. These characters are briliantly brought to life by artist Tanya Roberts who has a very expressive and animated style with lots of big eyes and exaggerated faces which makes it feel very lively and fun – and  even more like a lost Saturday morning animated adventure. This light and quirky art style certainly helps Plagued avoid being too dark and sombre, and although the art can feel a bit loose in places (almost looking digitally pencilled rather than fully inked) this new volume is much more polished than volume 1 with Roberts’ art feeling much more confident and so making Volume 2 into a much slicker and more accomplished package.

Purchase Plagued Volumes 1 and Volume 2 from BHP Comics Online Store 

Freedom Bound

BHP Comics continue their more socially conscious work with this collection of three stories looking at slavery in Scotland. It’s not a topic and location you would instantly put together and so makes for a really thought provoking read. The stories are a mixture of fact and fiction, extrapolating true events into much longer stories. They range from: Ann, the tale a young woman who comes over to live in Scotland from America with her master and goes on the run; Jamie Montgomery, about a young man who comes over to Scotland to work but is embraced as part of the community; and Joseph Knight which sees a young slave take his master to court in order to secure his freedom. The stories are told very slowly and very deliberately, mixing fact and fiction to create a really absorbing tale. While it may lack any sensational moments and can feel a bit dry at times, it is very smartly crafted to create a book that is designed to educate and prompt thought as much as it is to entertain. The mix of stories and flashbacks give a fascinating context to each story and showcase a really different look at slavery – especially compared to the Deep South cotton fields on the New World which we are usually used to from these kind of books. With factual articles at the back, outlining the historical background of each person, writer/artist Warren Pleece does a great job bringing these stories to life while his artwork has a very classical and unfussy style which will helps Freedom Bound feel timeless and unfaddy. With it’s monochrome colour scheme and thoughtful tone it reminded us a bit of the wonderful March from IDW – which is high praise indeed in our book – and is one of those titles which we hope gets an audience, especially among school kids as it has the potential to be a really useful teaching resource as well as an insightful read!

Purchase Freedom Bound for £19.99 from the BHP Comics Store.

Author: Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.