Dan Abnett and Richard Elson have created something remarkable in this strip.
I can’t think of another strip and character that has arrived in the prog in the fully formed way Gene the Hackman did and immediately find a place in the hearts of the readership since the debut of Nicolai Dante all those years ago.
In his introduction to this collection, Abnett is rather self-effacing when describing how the strip came about.
“I have no memory of the spark. All I can recall is that one minute I had nothing and the next- pop!- there was Kingdom...”
is how he recounts. Me, I’d like to think a bit more work than that went into it! Because if not, then it’s really not fair that a concept as damned near perfect as this one just popped into his head!
And what of the stories then?
They are, for my money, pretty much the best things Abnett has written for 2000AD so far- and I’m a Sin/Dex fan. There is a lot to love in the writing. The apparent ease with which he drives the narrative forward, the slow unfolding of the secrets in both tales and the gorgeous language of the Pack (“Your mouth is full of wrong”) are all pitch perfect.
All these though, would be nothing if the leading man weren’t up to snuff. But fear not- we’ve got Gene the Hackman. Who’d have thought that a genetically altered giant dog killing machine could be so likeable?
Gene really is one of those characters. Like Dredd, Alpha or Nemesis- he’s one of those guys you could see in no other place than the pages of 2000AD.
So, how have we got this far in the review without mentioning the art?
Richard Elson, eh? He’s a bit good. Now, I may be a little bit biased here, because when I lift my head from this keyboard, the original art for the cover of this book is hanging on the wall in front of me- but it wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t good. Well, actually, it isn’t good- it is great. In this strip, I think, Elson has finally found something that absolutely gels with his art style.
There’s also a lovely bonus section at the back with some of Elson’s character designs and page layouts- more of this sort of thing, please!
The colours too (by an uncredited Steve Roberts in Book 1) are just wonderful.
We here at Zarjaz bloody love Kingdom and cannot recommend this collection enough.
Thanks to 2000adreview and LewStringer for the links to the images.