Review: Thunder Brother copes with some tiny tearaways…
Thunder Brother: Soap Division. Issue 6: House Of Tiny Tearaways.
Paul Rainey’s comic work is consistently impressive, his ‘There’s No Time Like The Present’ series really setting the bar high for his unique blend of sci-fi soap opera. But thus far, his new series Thunder Brother has gone further into this cleverly hinterland between everyday soaps and hard edge sci-fi.
Thunder Brother is very much grounded in the world and culture of the soap opera, albeit based in a reality where TV soaps aren’t simply mindless, crappy entertainment, but do actually exist, each TV soap a new alternate world, governed by soap rules, populated by a cast totally unaware of their role to provide entertainment, and keeping everything running smoothly we have Soap Division, including the increasingly unpredictable and strange Thunder Brother and the new apprentice schoolgirl Sally.
The interesting thing about TB thus far has been watching Rainey develop so many different ideas around his fictional soap bubble worlds, taking little idiosyncrasies and developing them into well defined rules to govern the worlds, putting forward his big idea of soaps being real and based on their own worlds and then analysing the individual issues that would come from this development. Last issue we had the intriguing concept of language, specifically how it is that prime time soaps that theoretically deal with grim and gritty ideas have their cast of grim and gritty cockney types speaking without peppering their lines with definitely post watershed language.
Now, what would happen to the cast of characters unable to use swearwords if a trio of real-world squatters were mysteriously transported to the soap world of WestEnders?
Yep, genuine invention and interesting questions, a metaphysical look at the world of entertainment. Rainey delivers this sort of thing time and time again.
This issue is a first for TB, as its story directly continues from ‘Mind Your Language’, with Thunder Brother and Sally dealing with the three squatters transported into West Enders world by the mysterious and dangerous Library King, and dealing with the potential soap-ending threat their potty mouths bring to this world. But this termination of a soap isn’t new, as Thunder Brother points out, it’s happened before, a soap running its course, being cancelled, the show stopped, the world abandoned:
As with every issue, Rainey makes the reader contemplate the reality of his imagined reality, look at the mechanics that would drive these soap worlds, a mix of hard reality and soap style imagination, and together it’s quite a potent and intriguing mix.
Where Rainey intends to go with this I have no idea. I’m imagining the threat of the Library King will come into it somewhere, but I genuinely can’t work out where. However, I’ll trust Rainey to continue delivering issue after issue of quality entertainment.
I’ve got to admit, the extras this time, Goddard and Prisk Are Now Investigators of the Paranormal and another episode of Ghost Zombie, did little to add to my enjoyment, merely good strips skillfully done. But it’s the invention and entertainment of the main strip that keeps me coming back.
Rainey initially set up TB as a webcomic, each 12 page web-chapter collected with extras in print comic form. He’s since revised that model and is now going print only. In future I’d prefer to see 20 pages of Thunder Brother.
You can buy copies of Thunder Brother at Rainey’s store. And print is the only way to get Thunder Brother now. So go and splurge on all 6 issues thus far.