Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review of War of the Worlds Goliath: Cargo

Completely out of sequence, I have just gotten my hands on the January 2011 issue of Heavy Metal containing the War of the Worlds Goliath story, Cargo. This was actually the first of a number of War of the Worlds related stories published in the pages of Heavy Metal in support of the forthcoming animated movie, War of the Worlds Goliath. Unfortunately I missed this inaugural story when it first came out, so please excuse this tardy review.

As the story opens, it is 4 days since the Martian’s return to earth and things are not going well. Through a flaming English countryside laid waste by the Martians, an armoured train speeds toward its destination, a lone passenger surveying the devastation. What is the purpose of the train, who is the passenger, and what is the “delicious irony” of the situation he finds himself in? In answer we step back 7 months to an England that seems, thanks to Martian technology, well on the ascendance again, but as this story is to reveal, sometimes progress comes at a heavy price.

As with all the Goliath stories published by Heavy Metal this year, it’s hard to find fault with the art, which for this story is typically bold and atmospheric. It should be noted that each story so far has had a different artist at the helm, and this eclectic approach has been a definite highlight of the series. In this case the artist Nanzo, ably assisted by colourist Zedd, has produced a particularly dark and brooding piece of work from the pen of Joe Pearson. It’s also interesting to note that all the artists hail from Malaysia. I don’t know if they’ve had any significant exposure before to western audiences, but if not, I would watch this space, as they are clearly a very talented bunch.

If I have to voice a criticism, it will be a familiar one to those who have read my previous reviews. It’s another story where the lead character dies; a veritable suicide express in this case. It’s all been just a bit too repetitive for me but I’m hopeful that given more room to breathe, the movie will have much more to say. I do definitely see scope to bring the comic book stories together in a single volume, perhaps with a couple of new bonus stories added and some behind the scenes material on the forthcoming film. With such a beautiful range of art, it would make for a handsome volume, especially if the additional stories could be commissioned in such a way as to add some balance, by providing a few happy (well, happier perhaps) endings. I’m also told that the stories have not been presented in the original order intended, so there’s clearly room to fix some of the problems. There are also two more stories still to come and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for them. Even if everyone still dies at the end, it’s great to see the classic story so passionately reenergised.