Sláine: Book of Scars – Pat Mills – 30 years of Sláine

Writer: Pat Mills

Art: Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, Mick McMahan,
Clint Langley
Letters: Ellie De Ville

Pages: 128
ISBN: 978-1-78108-176-1
Diamond Order Code: STK623155
Price: £13.99
Published: 7 November 2013

Sláine created by Pat Mills & Angela Kincaid

Previously Published weekly in 2000AD in Progs 1844 to 1849

Published as a celebration of Sláine 30 years after his debut in Prog 330.

An interesting concept, revisiting some of the most popular Sláine stories with three of the most popular Sláine artists.  The Bride of Crom is illustrated by Clint Langley in the style of the original artist Massimo Belardinelli; Sky Chariots re-drawn by Mick McMahon; Elswhere is redrawn by Glenn Fabry; The Horned God is redrawn by Simon Bisley. The classics were book-ended by episodes from Clint Langley, in his own style.

Pat Mills has co-created many great stories for 2000AD including Sláine, Flesh, Invasion, Nemesis The Warlock.

Crucially Pat actually created 2000AD. To have the creator of 2000AD still working for the comic he created is amazing. He still writes Flesh and Sláine as well as a sequel to Invasion called Savage. During the run of Book of Scars he had another story running in 2000AD, Defoe. That’s longevity.

This book collects not only the retelling of classic stories but each section has an introduction from the returning artist. There is also a collection of the Sláine covers and an article on each. Comments by contemporary and current 2000AD creators including the likes of Duncan Fegredo, Jock, Kevin O’Neill and Matt Smith.

There is an Afterword from Graham Linehan, the writer of Father Ted, where Graham gives his feelings on how Sláine changed how Irishmen were seen in British comics.

I must say that the covers and the write-ups are the highlight of this book for me. Not only do some of the covers give me a very nostalgic feeling some of the comments made are brilliant. I was fifteen when Sláine made his first appearance in Prog 330, dated 20th August 1983. Sláine was an instant favourite with me and i particularly enjoyed the Tomb of Terror which you could ‘play along’ with.

This story, The Book of Scars, sees Sláine travelling through his own life, sent there by the Guledig to face his greatest enemies once more. Sláine of course defeated them the first time round but this time the Guledig has forewarned his enemies.

The first episode ended with this page, a wonderful teaser for the second episode. You can clickon the image for a larger version. This is a brilliant page and shows Clint Langley’s own style alongside his version of Massimo Belardinelli’s style. Again this played to the nostalgia I feel for this strip. Massimo’s art is some of my favourite work in 2000AD’s history. Not limited to Sláine – he drew other fan favourites such as Meltdown Man and Ace Trucking Co.

In this collected edition we are treated to a much larger version of the image of the Wicker Man from this page which really reveals the quality of Clint Langley’s interpretation.

Mick McMahon returns to the pages of 2000AD in the third episode,Sky Chariots.

McMahon’s art on Sláine is not my favourite. That said I can’t discount the amount of artists that speak so highly of it.

At times I love it and at times it distracts me from the tale. That’s just my opinion,as I say I know he is held in high regard by many. Personally I found his Dredd much better than his Sláine. His work on the VCs is for me his best. What I can say is that this episode shows his talent remains.

The fourth episode returns us to Elswhere… the home realm of Elfric leader of the Els.

Glenn Fabry created a very otherworldly look with the alluring yet sickening El-women and the androgynous Lord Elfric. When Elfric was first unleashed on us I couldn’t help feeling he looked a little like Tharg in drag…

Here we see Sláine’s iron sword fail to slay the Els… The sneaky Guledig granting them protection from this lethal element.

Wonderful images with great fluidity.

Then to episode five from Simon ‘The Biz’ Bisley.

Simon Bisley took what Glenn Fabry had brought to Sláine and then tookit upa notch.

Full colour paints with a consistently high standard. These new pages are just as good as the pages he gave us in the past.

2000AD launched Simon Bisley’s career, just as it launched many. Anyone who hasn’t seen his Sláine before may recognise one of his other creations,DC’s Lobo, who bears an uncanny likeness to Sláine MacRoth.

So this book is full of nostalgia and I think past readers will delight in it. Some may not enjoy the retelling of the classic stories as much as I did but they will surely love the covers and what the creators have to say about them.

New readers, should any pickup this book, will surely have their appetite whetted and want to read more.

Sláine returns to 2000AD in 2014 with new regular artist in ‘A Simple Killing’.

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