Heavy Metal January 2011, The War of the Worlds Goliath: Cargo (Heavy Metal, 2011)
those not in the know, (and it's an easy mistake to make) Heavy Metal magazine is a monthly publication
featuring comic strips for a mature audience, and not a certain brand of music. If I had said adult
audience, you'd almost certainly have made another assumption, though if truth be told, there is
a high proportion of female flesh on show, nothing particularly offensive it must be said, but I
feel it fair to give the warning should anyone feel inspired by this review to go out and buy it.
I'd not actually bought a copy before though I am aware of the French magazine that inspired
this American version and own several anthologies of material published there. I have to say,
that on that admittedly incomplete comparison I was less impressed by the American publication
as a whole. The French edition (based it must be said again on the anthologies I own) certainly
did not shy away from "mature" content, but it seems far more sophisticated in nature. Heavy
Metal USA seems to be pandering very determinably to a very specific demographic.
But presumably that's not why you are reading this review. You want to know about the War of
the Worlds comic strip contained within, called War of the Worlds Goliath: Cargo. The
story is set in a post Martian invasion world, where abandoned Martian tech has been reverse
engineered by the human race. Unfortnately, the Martians are back" You should also know (if you
didn't already) that the story is a preamble to a forthcoming animated War of the Worlds movie called Goliath.
As the story opens, it is 4 days since the Martian's return to earth and things are not going
well. Through a flaming English countryside laid waste by the Martians, an armoured train speeds
toward its destination, a lone passenger surveying the devastation. What is the purpose of the
train, who is the passenger, and what is the "delicious irony" of the situation he finds himself
in? In answer we step back 7 months to an England that seems, thanks to Martian technology, well
on the ascendance again, but as this story is to reveal, sometimes progress comes at a heavy price.
As with all the Goliath stories published by Heavy Metal this year, it's hard to find fault with
the art, which for this story is typically bold and atmospheric. It should be noted that each
story so far has had a different artist at the helm, and this eclectic approach has been a
definite highlight of the series. In this case the artist Nanzo, ably assisted by colourist
Zedd, has produced a particularly dark and brooding piece of work from the pen of Joe Pearson.
It's also interesting to note that all the artists hail from Malaysia. I don't know if they've
had any significant exposure before to western audiences, but if not, I would watch this space,
as they are clearly a very talented bunch.
If there is
a criticism to be made, (and you'll see a thread developing if you read my reviews of the
follow on stories published in Heavy Metal) then it must be said the stories are quite narrowly focused. Almost without
exception, everyone dies at the end, usually heroically and tragically. This can be irritating, as the
world is a fasinating one, and there's such amazing scope for story telling.
I do definitely see an opportunuity to bring the comic book stories together
into a single volume, perhaps with a couple of new bonus stories added and some behind the scenes material
on the forthcoming film. With such a beautiful range of art, it would make for a handsome volume,
especially if the additional stories could be commissioned in such a way as to add some balance, by
providing a few happy (well, happier perhaps) endings. I'm also told that the stories have not been
presented in the original order intended, so there's clearly room to fix some of the problems. Lots of potential then,
and it's certainly wonderful to see the classic story so passionately reenergised.
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