A graphic novel collection set in ‘another Britain’, neat shorthand for an alternative historical milieu, ‘Savage’ is the story of Bill Savage. He was a lorry driver, until his family was killed when the Volgans invaded Britain in 1999. Now he is a leader in the Resistance and has a cover identity as Bill Carter, running a bar where he is known as the Guv’nor. The first story in this collection is entitled ‘The Guv’nor’, which is cockney speak for the man in charge. This complex yarn involves an attack on a train carrying tanks, attempts by the Volgans to discredit the Resistance as terrorists and Bill’s hunt for a Volgan assassin called ’Steak Knife’. As part of reconciliation week, the Volgans are opening a train station named after Lady Shirley Brown, a former British Prime-Minister who bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain Iron Lady. Bill was a big fan of Lady Shirley Brown.
The second story, ‘1984’, is so titled because the United States, which is devoted to liberating Britain from the Volgans, has started dropping e-bombs. These give out an electro-magnetic pulse which renders modern equipment unusable. Typewriters and valve powered televisions are thus in high demand, as in 1984. Obviously, the title also echoes the totalitarian theme of the series. The yanks are based in Ireland and planning an invasion, landing on the west coast of Wales. Using a Volgan spy, Bill has obtained information on the coastal defences which he has to get to the Americans. Doing so, he meets Howard Quartz, CEO of Ro-Busters, a man with a deep interest in the invasion as his new Mark One War-Droids are leading it. Volgans and War-Droids clearly mark this tale as taking place in the same reality as Pat Mills celebrated ‘ABC Warriors’. While all this is going on, there are people being savaged in London by some mysterious beast.
‘Crims’, the final instalment, has Bill getting involved with the London underworld. His barman bluff blown, he has a new cover identity as Joseph Puccelli, running a café in east London. He forms an alliance with the ‘crims’ to launch an attack on the main Volgan base in London, assuring them that once the country is liberated they will be paid a big fee. The double-dealing and treachery which pervades all spy dramas becomes even more prevalent when you add underworld villains to the mix.
This is really one big on-going story told in parts. The writing by Pat Mills is up to the standard you would expect from that veteran scripter with nice touches of humour and irony, too, I believe. The art by Patrick Goddard fully lives up to the quality of the script. This tale of cockney rebels and east end gangsters is very British and quite old-fashioned. Goddard’s dark, very illustrative pictures might have appeared in ‘The Victor’ a British comic of the 1960s or one of those old war comics we schoolboys used to like. The visuals are highly suited to the words.
‘Savage: The Guv’nor’ is quite a long way into the Bill Savage narrative but it can certainly be read independently. I have not personally perused the previous stories but will try to get hold of them now. It’s really rather good.
(pub: 2000AD/Abaddon. 224 page graphic novel softcover. Price: £14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78108-040-5)
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