Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead #2 Review

hotwire2_covera_pughThose Brits sure know how to make good sci-fi tales. Ridley Scott behind the lens of Blade Runner, all those crazy cats at 2000AD and now Steve Pugh with Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead. There’s something in the water that gives the English a refreshing perspective to the genre, and the perfect package that is Hotwire is the latest jewel in the crown.

When a skeletal figure shambles up to the front desk of a police station and mumbles, “I tried to check my pulse, but I must be doing it wrong,” it becomes obvious that this isn’t a standard futuristic adventure. Writer/artist Steve Pugh is the clever hand behind this tale (with early support from Warren Ellis) and his off-centre ideas are presented beautifully.

At the end of the first ish, Alice Hotwire, the unpopular but efficient detective exorcist and her new partner Mobey were facing a possessed hobo named Filthy. Here Filthy gets saved with an unusual method by Hotwire and her and Mobey try to put all the pieces together of the general craziness that’s been happening around them, which includes riots in the cities and a spate of damaged blue-light suppressor towers. All this is making Alice’s usual job a lot harder.

Alice soon meets Darrow, the new city commander of the police force who shows the pale cop their latest “resident.” The shambling skeleton from the intro explodes in his holding cell revealing a very pretty Chinese dragon electro-magnetic manifestation, and an intriguing new plot line which ends on a great cliffhanger. Next issue should be a doozy.

hotwire2_coverb_stjepan1There’s some simply amazing work in this title. It’s very accessible to the new reader and moves at a brisk pace. Hotwire is a great character – a loveable rogue, like a female Han Solo. She’s always where the action is and doesn’t concern herself with official policies when there’s citizens to be saved and “blue-lights” to be exorcised.

Pugh’s also just as adept and creating tidy visuals as he is at tightly scripted pages. He paints texture, lighting and the human form like Alex Ross at his prime. Even when Mobey and Hotwire are simply talking at her apartment the scene looks vibrant. Pugh’s obviously done his research and has created a fully realised world. Every gadget, weapon and vehicle looks like it’s a current concept design from some hi-tech company. If you’re into Ross, or anything else from Radical Publishing, you’ll lap this series up. And if you’re familiar with Pugh’s previous work on the excellent Shark-Man, you must pick up this title.

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Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead #1 Review

 

hotwire1_covera_pugh_lowresThis 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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