Full Metal Mayhem with the ABC Warriors

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The ABC Warriors (Atomic, Bacterial, Chemical) are one of the main staples of 2000AD’s stable of characters. Robots dealing out death and destruction, travelling the Time Wastes to heal the broken chronality of the universe, they make the Transformers look like a free Go Bot pvc figure with your favourite breakfast cereal.

Created by Pat Mills with the visuals looks by Kevin O'Neill, Mike McMahon, Brett Ewins, and Brendan McCarthy, The ABC Warriors represent a genre invented - or at least given a second lease at mechanical life - and popularized by 2000AD: Death Metal Fantasy. An over the top no-holds barred action fest salted with elements from Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery pulp fiction, apocalypse movies à la Mad Max, sci-fi and to top it all off, its sprinkles on top are an unhealthy penchant for violence and end of the world stakes.

The Black Hole is the second volume in Rebellion's US releases through Simon & Schuster for The ABC Warriors, collecting material from the late Eighties and is especially noteworthy for the appearance of Deadlock, a major character who would go on to appear in the ever popular dark and satirical Nemesis the Warlock series. Befitting for a US release with its unhealthy cape focus, I can surely speak of a crossover that will reverberate throughout the ages!

When the far-future evil human empire of Termight begins experimenting with time-travel, they unleash a force that could destroy the entire universe! To stop them, Nemesis the Warlock — Deadlock's fellow khaos-worshipper and enemy of Termight — has a plan: the Warriors must travel through the Time Wasters to the central planet of the Termight and destroy their technology.

The ABC Warriors themselves are robots imbued with their own characteristics, purposes and personalities: Hammerstein is a robot warrior in love; Joe Pineapples is the ultimate assassin; Blackblood is the master of treachery; Mongrol a suicidal powerhouse droid; Mek-Quake a demented demolition machine; Ro-Jaws an ex-sewer bot and top it all off there’s Teri, the human who believes she is a robot and in love with their leader Hammerstein (which is mutual by the way). It’s all rather a lot to take in but Mills handles this future Dirty Dozen gang with flair and respect, managing even to imbue character beyond the one-line typecasting soundbites. A particular good prog is Hammerstein’s flashback to his programming days where his creators are trying to imbue emotion and ethics into his metal brain (but not too much for a war machine of course) ‘It’s good to love animals. Then kill and eat them. But not children!’ Hilarious.

Art chores are divided between Simon Bisley and S.M.S. Enfant terrible of the British comics scene, Bisley is hard to top though. His high-octane satirical drawing style thrives on Mills frenetic scripts, Bisley’s attention for comic detail in fore- and background, enlivening and uplifting the action and character work, a true interplay of text and image. While S.M.S. certainly is Bisley’s equal in rendering detail and playing out robotic fetishes with brushes and ink, his style comes off as a bit too serious turning ABC Warriors into more off a straight out sci-fi action than Mills intents it to be. Have no fear though, the majority of progs collected are by grandmaster Bisley.

The ABC Warriors volume 2 The Black Hole is surely full metal mayhem! Patt Mills and Simon Bisley fire on all gyros to hammer out an apocalyptic metal gore-fest involving time travel, droids intent on smashing, Deadlock from the Nemesis universe and psycho bikers. Yes, metal psycho bikers from the future. Why aren’t you running to the store yet?

The ABC Warriors volume 2 The Black Hole by Pat Mills and Simon Bisley is a 136 pages graphic novel, published by 2000 AD. It retails for $17.99 and is available from August in bookstores.

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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Aug 17, 2011 at 7:47am

    Hi Antiffrog, you are right indeed, Mighty Tharg may smite me! I adjusted the article accordingly, thanks for spotting this.

  • Tony Ingram

    Tony Ingram Aug 19, 2011 at 8:24am

    I liked Bisley's art, but it never seemed to sit very well alongside the style of the previous stories, or indeed the later ones. Hammerstein, to me, should look more like a tank in human form. He did draw a great Joe Pineapples, though.

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