Pat Mill’s new one shot anthology Space Warp is heralded as the comic with ‘SCHLOCK ’n ARRGH!’ And as you would expect from the creator of 2000AD it’s an ambitious interconnected mix of sci-fi satire and splatter that spans time and infinite dimensions to a mind blowing degree.
Never one to go for the easy option of comics story telling, Mills has literally built a multiverse for his stories to play out in this first issue of Space Warp. Along the way we are introduced to the concept of the Space Warp and Warp Lords – which in a nutshell is a multiverse of different Earths and a bunch of time travelling intergalactic alien overlords who have influence upon them. Each subsequent story is then somehow tied into one aspect of this, whether directly or indirectly. Highlights for us included Jurassic Punx (a kind of time travelling monster hunter story with plenty of anachronistic humour), Hellbreaker (about a demonic cosmic assassin) and X-Ecutioners (an all action multiverse spanning crime procedural)
With such an ambitious and far reaching concept to get across, Mills packs every panel of every page with a huge amount of information as you are bombarded with concepts and ideas, making sure not a single notion is missed. If you have ever seen Pat at a convention you will know his motormouth style and Space Warp is very much a reflection of it’s creator, as there are so many ideas and notions that are fired out machine-gun like at the reader. He even manages to squeeze in some social satire on the current pandemic. You can’t say that he hasn’t thought through his concept, or tried to explain the whole thing in as much details as possible, as he certainly gives it a damn good go. However at times it can be overwhelming if that is not the type of comic you thrive on.
The awesome visuals certainly help back up this information overload approach. It’s all in black and white, and so feels like a classic issue of 2000AD, and stories like Sfeer and Loathing (with artwork by Gareth Sleightholme) or Jurassic Punx (by Bruno Stahl) have that dense and detailed artwork that helps make that comparison. The quality is of the artwork throughout is absolutely top notch, with all the artists bringing their A-game to match the ambition of Pat’s ideas. There is not a single story which feels like it is the weak one of the bunch, rather each has their own style and approach intended to create a mix of looks and genres. The mix of sci-fi, aliens, monsters and horror covers most of the big genres and the mix of art styles and ambitious story-telling certainly evokes memories of the Prog, or even Heavy Metal.
When not being bombarded with epic and outrageous imagery, the stories are punctuated by editorial pages designed by Awesome Comics’ Vince Hunt, which Mills uses to layer on even more characterisation, depth and detail. From a leaflet giving you guidance on how to survive a dinosaur attack in Liverpool to Space Warp’s own version of Tharg – Doc Zot – and his advert pages. Again it throws back to Mills’ time on 2000AD or Action and as someone who loves comics packed full of attention to detail, these are some of our favourite pages.
For fans of Pat’s work, especially 2000 AD, Nemesis The Warlock or even his more recent work like Requiem Vampire Knight, then this is going to be an essential read. While we personally struggled with the dense nature of the world building and over whelming nature of some of the stories, there is no denying that this is an impressively put together comic. Every page feels like it has been meticulously considered and created, to make the most of every square centimetre. At a time when we are crying out for British comics with depth, intelligence and ambition, then this is very definition of it. It will be interesting to see whether Pat will look to continue this depth in future issues (this is only touted as a one-shot at the moment), but based on this debut this is one book which will warp your mind and take you on a journey far beyond where you expect from a sci-fi anthology.