I can’t recall the last time I was this sad at the end of a series. Not because it’s a disappointing end, but because Alice Hotwire’s standout adventures are now over. Steve Pugh has consistently delivered high quality entertainment over the four issues of this unique series from Radical Publishing and though I hope to see more, I’m also aware that it probably won’t be anytime soon. One look at any page and you’ll see why – it takes a lot of time to make pages like this.
For the uninitiated Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead is one of the best looking books on the stands, but it’s also a good old fashioned adventure to boot. You don’t really see stories like this any more, but Radical know how to make them. This title, and City of Dust are just two examples of easily accessible series from the publisher that anyone can pick up and be hooked on. They’re streamlined, but not simple, stories without the complications that some of our fave superhero titles can often be bogged down with.
So, what’s Hotwire about then? Alice Hotwire is a young cyberpunk English lass in a future London ravaged by “blue lights,” which are like electrical phantasms. Her job, as Detective Exorcist is to track down these resurrected corpses and get rid of them, and her partner Mobey is along for the wild ride. At the same time she discovers a conspiracy looking to use the ghosts as weapons, while the rest of the police force tries to deal with a public riot against police brutality.
In the last issue Alice and Mobey were separated at the Motts Island Cemetery while Alice stared at a flood barreling down upon her. Alice meets her unlikely saviour however, and we are given the first glimpse at her upbringing, which reveals her understanding of technology and the tragedy of her parents’ loss. This is a grand finale, with Hotwire and her fellow cops facing not only an angry mob wanting to tear apart a pair of violent detectives, but also the “man” behind the mob – the electronic puppet master. Compared to the previous three issues this is a lot more action packed, but it’s also over a little too quickly. It’s kind of like The Matrix Revolutions as compared to the original. It’s an entreaining tale, but won’t make much sense if this is your first dive into the Hotwire world.
Pugh has put everything on to these pages. The story was initiated with writer Warren Ellis, but Pugh boldly makes Hotwire his own. I even noticed the unique styles of the lettering and how he displays dialogue. His panel arrangements are chaotic, yet easy to follow and his costume and tech designs are straight from an unmade James Cameron flick. The luscious variety on display really is an eye opener. Pugh makes the art flow and dance across the page like a tattooed ballerina. It’s unexpected, daring and mesmerising.
When Radical releases the TPB collecting all 4 issues make sure to put it on your wish list. Hotwire has the edginess of 2000AD with the themes of The Matrix and the look of Blade Runner. Those comparisons don’t do it justice, but if you like your sci-fi more William Gibson than Star Trek you’ll be completely satisfied. It’s the kind of series you can pass to your non-comics reading mates to prove a point.
And now that it’s all over, I must say a hearty thank you to Steve Pugh. Job well done sir.
Hotwire #4 smacks shelves on September 2.