Shiny Shelf

Badguys & Mysterygirls

By Mark Clapham on 15 September 2004

British superheroes are gaining a bit of attention these days. Alan Moore’s forthcoming ‘Albion’ mini-series uses the old IPC library of Brit heroes, while Paul Grist has been using superheroes in a British setting (and one specific character with the same provenance, the Spider) in his series ‘Jack Staff’. Here’s a perfectly formed A5 comic from writer Ian Carney and artist Will Kane, black and white with red card cover (rather alarmingly like an old-style fanzine, of all things).

The book has one main story, the supervillain-centred ‘Badguys’, and a short back-up about the more heroic Mystery Girl. Both are firmly set in the UK, and contrast fantastical superpowers with a more mundane reality. ‘Badguys’ concerns loser supervillain Bad Brain, who tries to get some fellow villains together for one last heist. Problem is, his compatriots are an even sadder bunch than Bad Brain himself, trying to go straight, locked up and otherwise just downright reluctant to get involved.

Carney and Kane have created a wickedly funny, well-envisioned and surprisingly melancholic little story. The villains are menacing, feeble and sympathetic at the same time. Carney’s story is drenched in Bad Brain’s self analysis and doubts, while Kane’s art renders everything in a simple, cartoonish way, but layered with heavy black inks. The combination is oppressive and dramatic.

Mystery Girl’s story is lighter, both in terms of tone and substance. It’s a throwaway little thing based around a working class British teen superheroine, but gets a lot of mileage out of putting superheroics in the context of small town adolescence. Good fun.

This is an inventive little book, well worth the effort to find. Harass your local comic shop for a copy today. If in doubt, you might find our friends at Gosh!, London’s finest comics shop, may be able to help you out…

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named


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