This issue is so pretty it’s making all my other comics jealous. An orgy of sights from Poltergeist, Ghostbusters, Judge Dredd and grand superhero epics, Warren Ellis and Steve Pugh concoct a tidy package of bombasticity (yes, I made up that word) unlike any piece of work you’ll find on today’s shelves. The four issue mini-series from Radical is yet another attention-getter in its already impressive arsenal of hot properties. Steve Pugh’s name comes before famed writer Warren Ellis’, and there’s a good reason. Hotwire is primarily Pugh’s creation, working from Ellis’ original story, but Pugh handles both chores brilliantly. Like any good writer/artist Pugh is totally in synch with his ambitions on the page and the fact that he’s been working on this title on and off for years shows. That devotion is obvious and Pugh can be glad that he stuck with Alice Hotwire. It’s paid off very well.
So what’s it all about then? This is a typically Radical high-concept and one that is revealed naturally within the story. Alice Hotwire is a smart, sassy, techno-goth punk and a detective exorcist. In the Britain of the future, ghosts are referred to as the more comfortable “blue lights” and in some parts roam the city as loose spirits. It’s a great idea to build an intriguing world upon, and in Pugh’s gorgeously rendered pages, the world is exquisite. Those familiar with his previous work on Shark Man will like what they see, as will everyone else, really. He digitally paints all manner of easily identifiable characters, surrounding them with gizmos and vehicles. There’s a burgeoning story at work here besides the undead, and the city riots, police corruption and unpopularity of the by-the-book Hotwire amongst her fellow cops will slowly form a larger narrative.
The beauty of Ellis’ writing is that he can take the same old broad ideas (humanity’s dependency on machines, pseudo-science, female outsiders) and paint them in striking new colours and Pugh has a great base to leap from as he constructs this tale. This is a great introduction to new readers sick of traditional superheroics. There’s enough action, playful attitude and variety to entertain you. There’s also exploding bodies, electrocutions and one angry digital ghost to compel you further. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Alice Hotwire is an attractive young girl who doesn’t compromise, believe she’s ever wrong, or lose a fight. The book wisely centres on her but surely her new partner, family man, Mobey, will share the spotlight once the pair start figuring out what’s going on with all the increasingly weird paranormal activity.
Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead #1 is a 28 page issue, available from February 4. If you like looking at pretty things and being seduced by an equally arresting adventure, you have to pick it up.
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