The Damnation Brigade by Jim McPherson & various artists (book review).

Tired of the same old tights and capes in your comicbooks? Looking to get your teeth into a series that is a bit different? Then ‘The Damnation Brigade’ might be the book for you.

Spanning issues one to five of the ‘Phantacea’ series that were initially published in the late seventies and early eighties, this collection deals with the adventures of the eponymous group. Starting out as an Avengers-type group who fought the Nazis in the Second World War, they were betrayed by the very people they had sworn to protect and decided to exile themselves rather than fight back.

Damnation Brigade

The group is awoken during a battle between the Whirling Dervish Vayu Maelstrom and some of the Deadly Devas. Back in corporeal form after 25 years, the group seeks to do what they do best, fight evil, no matter what form it comes in.

The story is written by Jim McPherson, who created the ‘Phantacea’ universe, blending ‘Eagle’ comic-style pacing and words with some godly notions. There’s quite a bit going on in this book and simply skimming the pages just won’t do. Characters are introduced early on with already determined histories that don’t forgive anyone who isn’t giving it full attention. For anyone willing to give this collection a go, I personally would suggest a couple of reads to take in everything that happens. Although I would question if today’s reader has the patience to do that.

The origin story of the Damnation Brigade group does give the book a nice grounding and the reader finds themselves seeing through the three eyes of Maelstrom as he first meets the group, which certainly helped me enjoy and accept the character more. McPherson works with around eight different artists across the 116 pages of the volume, mostly Ian Bateson, who is a regular contributor to the series. Bateson has some interesting illustration styles that are a little different on every page he works on that challenge more later on, as if he gains in confidence as the book progresses. Other noteworthy artists included in this volume are Verne Andrusiek and Vincent Marchesano who offer up some crisp seventies-style comic art as part of their contribution.

This collection is certainly very different to most graphic novels out there and while the years may not have been kind to it, it’s worth a read to at least try something new.

Aidan Fortune

January 2014

(pub: Phantacea Publications. 116 pages graphic novel paperback. Price:
$15.00 (US).
ISBN: 978-0-98786-834-3)

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Once called a "fountain of useless pop culture knowledge", Aidan is an unashamed geek, grateful that he is allowed share his opinions on a global scale. A journalist by trade, Aidan is a massive fan of comics and recently set up a comics group in Brighton in order to engage more with like-minded people. His home is subject to a constant battle of vintage paraphernalia and science fiction & fantasy toys.

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