Neil Gaiman’s Teknophage Vol. # 2 (graphic novel review)

June 26, 2017 | By | Reply More

Neil Gaiman’s Teknophage Vol. # 2 is the follow up to ‘Neil Gaiman’s Teknophage Vol. # 1 which is part of a series of comics with one epic story. This volume starts with a revolt against Henry Phage, powerful and crafty reptilian ruler of Kalighoul for several million years. Kalighoul is a parallel Earth and the Teknophage or Henry to his friends rules ruthlessly over his empire from the Phage Building, a city on wheels. I won’t elaborate as the sensible reader will purchase Neil Gaiman’s Teknophage Vol. # 1 before this one. Rebellions are a common occurrence and this one is easily quelled.

The scene then shifts to a pair of upper class ladies, part of the aristocracy of the Phage building. They are in a beauty parlour discussing the lower orders and how ‘they want what we’ve got without having to work for it’ which is simply ’the politics of envy’. This is a familiar refrain in England. The most interesting of these ladies is Mesallina, named in honour of the wife of Emperor Claudius and one of the focal points of this story. She’s a hedonist of the first order, mainly seeking, like the ‘Cosmo’ readers of our own world, better orgasms. The headboard of her bed has a motto neatly scripted: ‘Veni, Veni, Veni. (I quite liked that)’. Her husband, Lombardo, is another aristocrat but useless for her needs. He’s in charge of top television show ‘Death Arena’ and cannot pronounce his r’s, another Roman homage, this time to Michael Palin’s version of Pontius Pilate in ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’. All in all, this constitutes a very English style of wit.

The clever plot includes several decent characters and many nice satirical touches. A schoolteacher is shown demonstrating to his upper class pupils how the system works and why it is perfect. Mesallina, featured on the cover in a sexy outfit cracking a whip, is a more complex character than you might first imagine. Her yen for men leads her to pursue the most dangerous rebel, an off-worlder named Orlando Holmes. Imbued with soul power, after nearly dying, he has a real chance of killing the Teknophage.

At the tail end of the book, there’s a story where the Teknophage crosses dimensions to meet another reptilian super-being from another parallel Earth. Zeerus is also overlord of the hairless apes that evolved after him but seems to have a different morality. At least, he doesn’t dine on them. He likes coffee. Basically this tale is a knockdown, drag ‘em out fight between him and Henry but it’s well done and I really liked the art by Fred Harper. The influence of Neal Adams and Gene Colan shines through. The other pictures in the book by David Pugh are reasonably good, especially to start with, but seem to get darker later on. Not darker in subject, darker in lighting, so it’s hard to see what’s going on at times. It’s said that Warner Brothers made dark films to save money on lighting but I don’t think that works for comics.

To finish, there are a couple of ‘Mr. Hero’ stories. He’s a Victorian gentleman automaton with a missing hand. That missing hand is nearly always on Henry Phage’s shoulder throughout the aforementioned stories and even writes letters for him. This mystery may be resolved in Neil Gaiman’s Mr. Hero Vol # 1, on with which I will now get. I’m saving ‘Neil Gaiman’s Lady Justice’ for last.

This series has plenty of nudity, violence and bad taste and it would be easy to mount one’s literary high horse and condemn it as ‘immature’ or ‘undergraduate’. However, it’s very entertaining so I won‘t. I really enjoyed it.

Eamonn Murphy

June 2017

(pub: NBM/Papercutz, 2016. 232 page graphic novel softcover. Price: $14.99 (US), $20.99 (CAN), £13.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-62991-573-9)

check out website: www.nbmpub.com/

Category: Books, Comics, Superheroes

avatar

About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy lives in the west country and grew up reading Asimov, Heinlein, lots of other old SF and Marvel Comics. After many years hard labour he has settled down to a quiet life with a nice lady, two rescue dogs and four ducks. He writes reviews for crowsnest and a few short stories, some of which even get published in obscure magazines. His self-published (Beware!) horror novel 'Arnos Hell' set in a Bristol graveyard is available on Amazon as a kindle book. His YA novelette 'The Brigstowe Dragons' will be published shortly by Alban Lake. He seldom blogs at https://eamonnmurphyblog.wordpress.com/

Leave a Reply

Enjoy scifi? Please spread the word :)