2000 AD Prog Slog

Friday, April 03, 2009

Prog 802 26/09/92

When you come up with a Robo-Hunter story called Return to Verdus, you create an idea in the mind of the Squaxx dek Thargo of a sequel to Sam Slade’s very first adventure containing at least some of the imagination, satire and character interplay that originally made the thrill so popular. If that’s what you thought then have you forgotten already the previous two long stories and the various one offs dotted around the specials all written by Mark Millar? It ain’t gonna happen. The Robo-Hunter we all know is dead, I tell ya! Dead!

In the story, Sam is duped into returning to the planet whose robot population he destroyed by a now evil Cutey. He ends up searching for Doc Magnet, some guy who is supposed to be brilliant, with a team of escaped robo-hunters abducted from around the galaxy who, during their journey, get picked off one by one by the various members of the Verdus’ vicious population.

Believe it or not, there is stuff to like here. For example, Kidd returns and seems to be pretty much written in character even if, last prog, he gets exploded like a sack of bloody organs. And of course the art, by Jose Casanovas, is energetic, imaginative and colourful. I still maintain that, when compared to Michael Fleisher’s versions of Harlem Heroes and Rogue Trooper, Millar’s reinvention has a lot going for it. But I can’t help feeling that I would have been a lot happier with this interpretation of the character if I had never encountered the original. Or if the strip didn’t feature Sam Slade or robots or any the characters you might otherwise associate with the proper version and was called something other than Robo-Hunter. Then, I think, I might have liked it more. There are the occasional Millar flourishes similar in tone to that which can be found in his more successful work but, in the end, his Robo-Hunter is less The Ultimates and more The Unfunnies.

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  • I remember liking Millar's Robo-hunter at the time. But then it'd been, what 6 or 7 years since we'd seen the original and I was a foolish 20 year old who thought meaningless cool violence passed as entertaining. Now having recently re-read it relatively shortly after the original its exposed as the souless, charmless mess that it is.

    Millar is an infuriating writer. When he's good he's good and he gets what makes a strip tick, Civil War and Utlimates, when he's bad he's bad and allows style, all be it violent style, or simple over the top nonsense and excess blind him to the heart of a story. See Robo-hunter and his recent attempt at Fantastic Four.

    Got to give him one thing whenever I read his work it certainly provokes a reaction in me!

    By Blogger Colin, at 1:50 pm  

  • I should also say I'm fully aware that both Civil War and Ultimates had plenty of over the top nonsense and excess and lots of violence BUT in both cases the positives and interesting aspects of both won through, meaning the nonsense became cool moments.

    Funny how that works!

    By Blogger Colin, at 2:02 pm  

  • Hi Colin. I think Millar is a popular writer who likes to provoke in his work. Usually he uses good judgement, but sometimes he doesn't. i think in Robo-Hunter, his judgement was off.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 4:08 pm  

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