Issue two of Department Of The Peculiar was meant to be the finale of a two-issue series created by Rol Hirst just to give artist Rob Wells something to draw…. or something like that. But it seems both writer and artist are enjoying themselves so much here that we’ll more than likely see at least a half dozen issues. And on what I’ve seen so far that’s no bad thing. For a start any comic that does such a good job of homaging a classicByrne and Austin’s X-Men (issue 139 from 1980 - this one) is doing something right.
I reviewed the first issue last year, and described it as “a clever, quirky bit of superhero stuff” albeit featuring a very British take on powers – something to be embarrassed of, to hide, to ignore, the people here don’t want these bloody crappy powers, they’re not your iconic heroes, these are more your superhero reject sorts.
Last time we met a few of the team making up the Department Of The Peculiar, including yank escapee Viral Mal, running from his superhero past, where his disease inflicting powers got him into some as yet unknown trouble.
Mal’s been recruited by D.O.T.P. director; the sharp tongued Ms Cole, her of the business suit and perpetual fag, and the first order of D.O.T.P. business is taking care of a walking cholesterol bomb….
….. and now I’ll shut up and simply show you issue 2 page 1, a perfect last issue summary:
Yeah, so much for Mal escaping the superhero thing. not going to happen.
Fever dreams bring all sorts of funny things from the unconscious, and Mal obviously has more funny things in his past than most… so whilst the cholesterol fog builds up around them, Mal is off reliving his origin story, and frankly if he looked that much of a tit in his supertype costume, you don’t need any more reason to explain his desire to get a long, long way away…
That’s him, with the biohazard logo. Oh dear.
Wells’ artwork is getting better and better, stark black and white, an increased confidence to his line, a new simplicity there as well. Very nice, but that page does throw up one peculiar quirk in his artwork, and may well explain why Wells’ art rarely drops below the waist – seriously, there’s an awful lot of talking torso and head panels in here, and few whole body shots. It’s a weakness to his art, or at least it seems it on the evidence here.
But minor quirks with legs aside, Wells holds his end of the comic up well. I’m not so sure Hirst does as well though. After the stupid, quirky, sarcastic first issue full of setup and characterisation, this issue is rather straight, a little too much like the sort of superhero type thing it’s taking the piss out of. Hirst’s usual clever dialogue and quirky twisty plots just don’t really have anywhere to shine in what actually becomes a fairly straightforward super-tale sadly.
But it certainly shouldn’t put you off having a look. Issue 1 was strong, issue 2 not so much. But it’s still good fun, well done work, and I’ll not let this mini dip with issue 2 stop me getting the rest.
You can buy Department Of The Peculiar Issue 2 from Rol Hirst’s webstore.