Shiny Shelf

CLiNT #2.1

By Mark Clapham on 24 May 2012

‘CLiNT’ #2.1 is a relaunch of Mark Millar’s UK newsstand comics magazine, the first volume of which had a first issue so embarrassing I couldn’t bring myself to buy it, even for review.

Thankfully the notoriously laddish editorial content of the previous incarnation has been massively scaled back (I gather it shrunk during volume 1), although readers weary of Millar’s self-aggrandizing tendencies will find the movie-hyping ‘interviews’ with the writer a bit of a grind.

The British-ness of the comics here is a little bit up for debate – the two Millar-written strips, ‘The Secret Service’ and ‘Super Crooks’, are both reprints of titles already published (and, one presumes, paid for) in the USA. The two original strips, ‘Rex Royd’ and ‘Death Sentence’, are half the length of the reprints. However, there’s a high number of British creatives on board, and a definite British sensibility throughout – albeit a very specifically Millar-esque sensibility, even in the strips he didn’t personally write.

Having dropped in and out of Millar’s prolific output for a while – I developed a distaste for his Ultimate Marvel stuff fairly early on, ignored most of his creator owned work but liked the weirdly allegorical last issue of his initial run on ‘Wolverine’ and the shameless epic stupidity of the subsequent ‘Old Man Logan’ – I found I enjoyed ‘The Secret Service’ and ‘Super Crooks’ more than I expected.

Both stories seemed smarter and tighter than Millar scripted comics of old, with shock-tactics that actually serve the story – the end of the ‘pre-title sequence’ of ‘The Secret Service’ is kind of predictable, but actually funny and an important plot point. ‘Service’ is drawn by Dave Gibbons, an excellent artist who seems slightly under-used by a script that’s unnecessarily widescreen: I was left with the feeling that Millar could have packed in more panels and scenes, moving the story on further, and that this greater compression would have benefited Gibbon’s art style rather than cramping it. Instead, this ‘James Bond’/'Shameless’ mash-up never seems to quite reach the point in its first chapter.

‘Super Crooks ‘ is a heist story, and another pleasant surprise came with the art by penciller Leinil Yu and inker Gerry Alanguilan. I’ve never been a big fan of Yu, an artist who always seemed to have a distinctive line but little interest in character, but he seems to be sinking his teeth into the story here far more than he did in, say, ‘Secret Invasion’. The story itself gets further along than the one in ‘The Secret Service’, building a whole world and a few distinctive characters already. It’s a fun idea, and I’m tentatively¬† interested in seeing more.

Finally, the two non-Millar strips. I’ve never read ‘Rex Royd’ before, but I can see why it gets a bad press. Written by celebrity misanthrope Frankie Boyle and drawn by Mike Dowling, it is willfully incoherent, a series of sci-fi fragments seemingly skimmed from the top of Boyle’s consciousness. I didn’t hate it the way many critics have, but it’s certainly hard to see the point of a series that seems to be teenage angst-poetry reimagined as a superhero comic.

Finally there’s ‘Death Sentence’ by Monty Nero and Mike Dowling (again). It’s an easy fit for ‘CLiNT’ – a story about a sexually transmitted disease that kills you in six months, but gives you random super powers for that time. It feels very nineties, but not in a bad way. There’s nothing hugely surprising here but it’s a neat high concept well-established. As with the other strips (barring ‘Rex Royd’, which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in particular), the proof of the high concept will be in whether further chapters develop that concept in an interesting manner.

I neither loved nor hated ‘CLiNT’, a step-up from the contact revulsion a glance through its pages caused on original launch. The art throughout looks great reproduced at a larger size than US comics format, and with Gibbons and Manley both in a very British action comics art tradition – the latter’s work is reminiscent of Steve Yeowell in places, which should prove recommendation enough – there’s a feeling of cultural consistency that knits the magazine together and sets it apart from the pure US reprint titles that bundle Marvel and DC superhero comics for the UK newsstand.

Ardent Millar-haters are unlikely to be converted by anything here, but ‘CLiNT’ #2.1 showcases the better side of his high-concept, high-action schtick. It’s entertaining in a bombastic, slightly crass way, and at ¬£4.25 is a cheaper way of dipping into Millar’s current output than tracking down the single issues. Worth a try if you’ve got a dull train journey ahead and a fiver in your pocket.

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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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