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2000 AD Prog Slog

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Prog 660

Thanks to Chopper Song of the Surfer, I find myself wondering how many Supersurf stories there is to tell. Personally, I think that all you need is the first, The Midnight Surfer, and that all subsequent tales lack something of the original. This isn’t to say that Song of the Surfer isn’t worthwhile. In fact, this is John Wagner on form, even if he is going over some old ground to get there.

In Song of the Surfer, Chopper and Jug have gone to Mega City Two to enter Supersurf 11. This time the race’s sponsor has decided to make it more interesting by lining the route with snipers and other offensive traps. Worryingly, Chopper’s death in the race has been foretold by his late friend from the Outback, Smokie.

The strip occupies one of the comic’s three available colour slots. It looks to me like the early episodes were drawn by Colin MacNeil for black and white reproduction and coloured later by someone else. Now, however, it’s being fully painted by the artist. MacNeil is doing a great job here. His work looks vibrant even if it doesn’t quite have the same sense of kinetic movement that previous hover board races by other artists have had.

There is also a bleaker tone to the story. There is a sad disregard for life from the sponsors and fans of the sport. Deaths in Supersurf that occurred before were unfortunate side effects of the race but now it’s a requirement. Wagner is satirising the sadistic aspect to the relationship between the public and those in the public eye here perhaps foreseeing TV shows like I’m a Celebrity. Of course, he has slaughtered millions of people in his stories before, but in Song of the Surfer we are familiar with the characters that now seem more trapped than previously and even more exposed to the exhausting violence. There is a sense that Chopper has outgrown the adolescent frustrations that motivated him in previous races and is acting immaturely and selfishly by taking part in Supersurf 11. Basically, Marlon has now changed and, consequently, might be less appealing because of it.

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4 Comments:

  • I detest Song of the Surfer and was very surprised to discover that it is generally regarded quite highly. About a year ago, I decided to dig it out an dgive it another go to see if I was being too harsh.

    I still thought the story was poor, but my opinion of the art (I really can't stand MacNeil's work) was improved by the pretty explosions

    By Blogger Peter, at 7:44 pm  

  • Song of the Surfer was one of my favourite thrills of all time and still is. I love Macneils colour artwork, he's one of the few who could carry off this type of story.
    Plus I think wagner was on good form here, showing that he does pathos much better than Alan Grant because he's subtle about including it whereas Grant (much as I like him) can shovel it on a bit too heavy sometimes.

    By Blogger Derek, at 8:50 pm  

  • Peter, I think your original feelings towards it aren't uncommon.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:28 pm  

  • There's lot of Wagner skill on display at the moment, Derek.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:29 pm  

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