Review: Pat Mills’ ‘Spacewarp’ #1 Is Filled With Lovecraftian Monstrosities And Warp-Spasm Sci-Fi

by Olly MacNamee

Spacewarp #1 is the new sci-fi anthology comic coming from the mind of Pat Mills, one of the creative forces behind 2000AD, and a comic that could well be considered the bastard child of the galaxy’s greatest comic.
Mills has lent his voice and vision to 2000AD across all of its 40+ years, giving us such iconic characters as Nemesis the Warlock and Sláine to name but two. And now, he’s is looking to capture some of that old black magic one more time in this new publishing venture that does a very good job of echoing early 2000AD output with a selection of stories that capture that 70s punk-rock ethos and DIY attitude of the original sci-fi anthology series, and all presented in glorious black and white.

The opening strip is something of a surreal experience as it involves the Warp Lords – a bizarre coterie of sci-fi monstrosities – and a prologue, of sorts, that goes someway to explain the interlinking thread running through the differing comic book strips to be found in this 70 page book, and all written by Mills. 
Of course, UK comics have always embraced the anthology tradition long before 2000AD was published, so it would be unfair to simply cast this as a 2000AD imitation – but with more creator control and ownership –  although the similarities are more than simply cosmetic. Mills makes use of British setting, such as in the strip ‘Jurassic Punx’, which is set in a dinosaur-ridden Liverpool of the 70s – with the city’s iconic Liver Building magnificently reproduced in black and white art by Bruno Stahl on the strip’s opening splash page –  giving this whole affair a very British sensibility to it.
But, it’s more the punk-rock sensibilities that fuelled the early years of 2000AD than anything else that links the two books, with English colloquialism utilised too that may leave some readers stumped. Luckily, Mills shares a link to the official Spacewarp website where readers can learn the true meaning of such statements as “Kop this!” and more!
Furthermore, Mills has the privilege of hindsight and so he has framed this whole series around the idea of the Warp Lords who have warped time and space to created countless worlds in which humans suffer. Worlds of horror unending!

The darkly-humoured edge to much of the content also marks it as a truly British comic book that will, no doubt, appeal to long-term 2000AD fans, but hopefully more than that too if it’s going to survive in print in the longterm. 
And, like the early days of 2000AD the artwork isn’t always as polished as it would become in time. But, on the whole, there’s more strips with outstanding artwork than not with honourable mentions going to the aforementioned Stahl as well as Gareth Sleighouse on ‘Xexecutioners’ and Ade Hughes on ‘SF1’.
Overall, this comic does have a cohesive and binding over-arching artistic aesthetic to it all beyond just the framing device of teh Warp Lords. It’s a heady, pulpy mixture of Lovecraftian monstrosities and warp-spasm sci-fi that’s both brash and bold and very, very evocative of the early masters of 2000AD, especially Massimo Belardinelli who seems to be this comic’s spiritual influence and is soaked through in it’s DNA. A decent, albeit nostalgic, first issue that I do hope finds an audience.
Spacewarp #1 is about now, available for Kindle here, with plans for a printed copy this Fall.

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