I’ve been writing a bit about independent British comics lately, and this led to me getting a review copy from the good people at Time Bomb Comics. The title this time is issue 5 of Flintlock Comics, an anthology of stories set in the seventeenth century. All of the comic’s stories are written by editor Steve Tanner, but they’re drawn a range of different artists.
The main feature is “Lady Flintlock”, the story of a highwaywoman with atmospheric artwork by Gareth Sleightholme. This particular instalment is a courtroom drama in which the authorities believe themselves to have finally unmasked Lady Flintlock – but in reality, they’ve bagged the wrong woman.
While the above story is one part of a larger saga, the other tales in the comic are more self-contained, even though they feature series characters. Next in line is “Onna”, set in Japan (seventeenth-century Japan, of course) and drawn in a loose, blocky style by Caroline Parkinson. The title character is a blind geisha who runs into a pair of crooks – Fija the Bastard and Obusuku the Lecher – only to show that she’s a tougher customer than they’d expected.
We then head back to England with “Sparrowhawk”, drawn by Carlos Angeli. This opens with the gruesome discovery of a strangled corpse in a beer barrel (“All of us appreciates a good head on our beer, but the head of a poor soul stuffed into a barrel along with the rest of her – not so much, eh?”) and unfolds into a murder mystery as a pipe-smoking detective gets to the bottom of the manner. It’s a very tightly-constructed narrative and, for my money, the strongest story in the issue, even if it lacks the touch of fantasy found in the others.
Speaking of fantasy, we see a good example of that in the final feature: “The Clockwork Cavalier”, drawn by Francesco Archidiacono. As the title suggests, the main character is a mechanical gallant; in this instalment he ends up in a duel. Short, punchy, and with some nice caricatures, the story would work well as one of the sillier entries in 2000 AD. In a nod to the educational features often found in classic British comics, the stories are followed by an article about colonial Australia.
One thing I’ve commented on when writing about Spacewarp, The 77 and Sentinel is how these titles hark back to an earlier era of UK comics. Flintlock continues this trend: had the likes of 2000 AD and Misty ever had a historical adventure anthology as a sister title, chances are it would have looked something like Flintlock. An impressive job all round, and well worth a look if you’re in the mood for some period derring-do.