Just a little over a year there was great excitement when Rebellion acquired Egmont/IPC’s classic archives. There was speculation on potential reprints, possible new stories and products, many hoping that their favourite characters would get a revival. Has Rebellion lived up to that promise so far? I would say a definite yes.
On the girl’s comic side of things, soon after the acquirement, they released the first Misty book, reprinting Moonchild and The Four Faces of Eve. While there were some minor quibbles, like Moonchild being reprinted from an annual, rather than the original issues, and some were not keen on the new Misty logo (although everyone was happy to see Shirley Bellwood’s gorgeous artwork of Misty), overall it seemed to be well received. So it is no surprise to see that a second volume, reprinting popular story The Sentinels and End of the Line, is on it’s way. Showing that they are willing to listen to feedback, this cover has the original Misty logo back in it’s proper place. Another example of them listening to people’s views has been shown with the Scream! Misty cover controversy. Many people including Pat Mills, were not happy to see the Misty logo, reduced to the side and obscured by a selfie stick. So it was a pleasant surprise to see that they released a variant cover by Fabry, which reverses the logos. This is the comic that I got, and while the prominent Misty logo is a bonus, I just prefer the cover – the style, the trick or treaters, and the horrors behind Misty and Ghastly. That’s not to say the other cover is bad, in fact I was tempted to get both versions, and I think there will be other people who will do that, which should give the special an extra sales boost. The sales of this special should be interesting to follow, as this is new material and if it does well, it could open the door to a more regular thing. Although Keith Richardson (editor of the Treasury line) doubts there will ever be another weekly anthology comic like 2000AD, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for mini series, regular specials or perhaps if it does really well, maybe even a monthly series would be possible.
The Scream! Misty special has a lot of good content and should hopefully reach a new audience, who should then be interested in picking up related content, (i.e. The Dracula File, Monster and Misty books), something which of course they advertise in this comic. The thing I was most excited to see was the sequel to The Sentinels (no coincidence that this popular story was chosen to get a sequel, just before it’s reprint came out). It was strange to see a new art style and the present day setting, with mobiles and such (reminding me that the original is nearly 40 years old now!) but it still captures the essence of the original and it is quite exciting to see new interpretations of characters and stories. It’s good at showing how these stories can be updated to appeal to a newer generation. The Return of the Sentinels (by Berry, Willsher and Parkhouse) follows a new character Jennifer, as she finds the portal to the Nazi world, and we see how things have changed and developed there too. We see the Nazi symbols and the world have evolved and their main targets for persecution are fitting for these times. It would be interesting to see this new version and new characters developed more, an ongoing or mini series, could even get a chance to tell us what happened to the Richards family (and their alternate counterparts). But for the limited space of 7 pages they make a compelling read, and it’s only flaw really is wanting to see more (and maybe have some questions answered). Willsher’s art is great too, things like Jennifer’s brother building tower blocks out of Lego, the abandoned Sentinel and updated parallel world are all visually interesting.
The other Misty story, Fate of the Fairy Hunter, is fitting of the short stories Misty used to do and the rest of the issue is also solid stuff. I hadn’t read any of Scream! before, but I am certainly interested in checking out the reprints now (Volume 1 of “The 13th Floor” is promised in 2018). The 13th Floor was the most popular story of Scream! and it is easy to see why, it is an interesting concept, with sci-fi and fantastical elements and the unsettling Max at the centre of it. Again with all these stories, they have done good at modernising it, acknowledging time has passed and at the same time keeping it accessible to new readers. Another highlight is Death-Man: The Gathering in which many other familiar characters make an appearance. Nicely rounding out the comic are The Dracula File and The Return of Black Max: Blood Moon (originally a Thunder strip) which are also fun reads. The book is well produced and I appreciate additions such as the glossary of characters that appear in Death-Man and the welcome/contents page at the beginning. It should be a satisfying read for both new readers and fans of the original comics.
While I have a special interest in “girls” comics, I should note that of course girls can read any comics, even those not directly marketed at them. Rebellion have been good at releasing a variety of stuff for their Treasury line that has a wide appeal, including Hookjaw, Faceache, One-Eyed Jack, The Leopard from Lime Street and Marney the Fox. The latter two books I have already purchased. I had read some of The Leopard from Lime Street in Buster years ago, but at that time I wasn’t familiar with Spiderman comics, so it wasn’t until I got the new book, that I realised how much the story draws on that. Still it somehow remains fresh and its differences help shape the character of Billy Farmer in another way (such as instead of having a supportive uncle to live up to like Peter Parker has, Billy has a thugish uncle to overcome) and the art is great throughout. Marney the Fox is a comic strip I hadn’t read before but it was a compelling read, that kept me turning the pages so I could find out what happens to Marney, helped also by the gorgeous art by Stokes. Stories centering on the trials of a wildlife protagonist are an enduring genre, such as books like Watership Down, Run with the Wind and Tarka the Otter, I think Marney the Fox would be a good addition to the collection of fans of those books. Again I feel Rebellion are being smart by not reprinting everything in the same model. While all the comics they’ve come out with are well produced, Marney the Fox is particularly attractive as it is presented in a lovely hardback. With it being a complete story and gorgeous art it is sure to appeal to people who may not be familiar with the comics.
It is quite an impressive collection that Rebellion has already built, in not that much time and there is still so much potential for more growth. I am happy with what we have gotten so far and I am looking forward to what the next few years brings.