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ABC Warriors: The Volgan War Volume 01 by Pat Mills and Clint Langley

01/10/2009. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy

Buy ABC Warriors: The Volgan War in the USA - or Buy ABC Warriors: The Volgan War in the UK

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pub: 2000AD/Rebellion. 96 page hardback graphic novel. Price: 13.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-906735-02-9).

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ABC stands for Atomic, Biological Chemical and these are big robots built for warfare, as readers will know who have seen them in the British comic, '2000AD'. Yes, the wars of the future will be fought but since they have personalities and feelings and the same rights as humans in some places, it's just as bad as floppies fighting them really. Floppies is what they call us.

So 'human' are the robots that they are even giving to reminiscing, as here. The ABC Warriors are on Mars and having delivered one comrade to an asylum for a rest they have to travel to Marineris to pick up his replacement. As it's a long journey, they pass the time by recounting their individual experiences of the Volgan War which took place on Earth around 2083. Three stories are told in this volume.

Hammerstein recalls his battle against robots led by Volkhan, a top commissar in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad. Our hero was a sergeant and had independent control so could dodge incoming fire but his troops were controlled by floppies and were kept in the open, being destroyed. He was aided by a napalm-throwing rocket called Zippo.

Mongrol tells of his time as a paratrooper in a raid where his comrades were slaughtered and he was rescued by a floppie. He also encountered Zippo, a special forces robot. Pineapples was sent to Volga a year before that to assassinate Volkhan and he too encountered the mysterious Zippo. Clearly a common thread is emerging.

A few years ago I had a spell of collecting '2000AD' and I'm pretty sure it was while this story was running but I hardly read it. In the comic, the art looked so dark that it was hard to see what was going on and the giant war robots seemed like an example of all that was corny and childish about bad SF films. I was wrong. Pat Mills makes the characters human and interesting and the plot is gripping. The art by Clint Langley is dark at first glance but it is perfectly possible to see what is going on. In fact, the art is absolutely gorgeous and fully deserves the decent production values it gets here. Clint uses a combination of fully painted art and digital manipulation.

We probably don't appreciate '2000AD' enough. Occupying its lonely space on the shelves amid the reams of quality American comics, it has been a launch pad for loads of British talent, not least Alan Moore who was universally recognized as the top writer in the field for ages. Several artists who began their careers in its pages have gone on to great success in the USA, too. This is great stuff and I look forward to Volume Two. My only regret is that Isaac Asimov is turning in his grave.

Eamonn Murphy

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