Re-reading my review of Action Comics #900 after it was recently posted, I found myself looking over at my spare little review pile and three Radical Comics mini-series. Not a one of these’ll ever come close to reaching that daunting number, I thought, which is as it’s meant to be. Where big comics companies look to promoting properties that they can publish in perpetuity, smaller lines generally look to time-limited titles with a beginning, middle and end.
Which doesn’t mean that the last element won’t contain room for a mini-series sequel or three, of course. All three of the Radical books on my pile — After Dark, Hot Wire and Ryder on the Storm — are sufficiently open-ended to support a follow-up. Warren Elis and Steve Pugh’s Hot Wire (subtitled: Deep Cut) is, in fact, the second mini- to feature its spunky lead, futuristic detective exorcist Alice Hotwire. A spiritedly arrogant loose cannon, Hotwire comes up against ambitious mercs and a resurrected dead soldier who is carrying a dead mother with a still living baby inside her, plus a tagalong host of “blue lights” that may or may not be spirits of the dead.
Though co-creator Ellis gets second billing on this outing, in actuality both the writing/art credits go to Steve Pugh, who has fun with both his prickly lead and the series’ parapsychological mumbo-jumbo. If, at times, all the blue light actions seems to be more smoke-and-mirrors than a clear-cut comics contretemps, well, you could probably say the same thing about such durable company comics paranormalists as DC’s Spectre or Marvel’s Doc Sttrange, couldn’t you? Me, I just like watching Alice get snippy with hes less intelligent co-workers.
The title hero of David Hine and Wayne Nichols’ Lovecraftian Ryder on the Storm is less punkishly flamboyant than Hotwire, more your broody late-nite detective type — who also happens to have some daemon blood in him. Our gumshoe’s latest case leads to a conspiracy to revive daemon control of the city through a monstrous motherly creature hidden in the sewers and her drone warrior offspring. While the opening volume in this three-parter focused on the sexually provocative dancer Katrina and a decadent sex club, the finale takes us into a dank city underbelly that H.R. Giger or the creators of Alien would recognize. This shift in focus from steampunky supernatural noir to action horror proves a bit of a letdown — horror fans have been down sewers like this before — though artist Nichols gets some good panels out of the monster mother. Love the image of her slurping down a daemon victim.