Vertigo miniseries tour Part 22: Adventures in the Rifle Brigade: Operation Bollock; Grip: The Strange World of Men; S.C.I. Spy; Midnight, Mass.

Adventures in the Rifle Brigade: Operation Bollock #1 – 3 was the second farcical WWII miniseries by Garth Ennis & Carlos Ezquerra. They manage to insult Arabs and Americans in this one, along with Germans, so it’s definitely equal opportunity satire. The big-breasted SS dominatrix returns from the first series, and there’s an unfortunate incident with a horny bull elephant. The last page threatens further Rifle Brigade tales, but so far there have been no more. There was a trade paperback collecting both miniseries, currently out of print.

The five-part miniseries Grip: The Strange World of Men by Gilbert Hernandez brings me into 2002 in the Vertigo miniseries reading project. This is a seriously surreal story involving amnesia, gangsters, and skin with a mind of its own.  Gilbert’s Palomar stories in Love and Rockets are sometimes compared to the “Magic realism” literary style, and this story has a similar tone. As the back story is revealed, all of the seemingly unrelated characters are shown to be interconnected. And then near the end one of the greatest deus ex machinas I’ve ever seen in comics happens. Nearly all of the characters die in a huge climactic battle, only to be brought back to life. Somehow it works, and I don’t think I’ve spoiled anything for anyone who hasn’t read it. It will still be crazy and unexpected.

S.C.I. Spy #1 – 6 is a tongue in cheek spy story in outer space by Doug Moench & Paul Gulacy (inked by Jimmy Palmiotti). It’s a fun romp, and stylistically outside of most Vertigo. It earns the Mature tag in much the same way as an R-rated James Bond film, mainly by nudity and implied sexual activity. Moench & Gulacy are old hands at adventure comics, and they deliver solid entertainment here. The setting is a future in which mankind has gone into exile in a distant galaxy. While the story looks like a simple genre spoof at first, it quickly escalates into a serious threat to all of humanity. The series has been collected in an Image edition. The description captures the tone perfectly: “When an interplanetary Cold War flares hot, agents Sebastian Starchild and Isis Nile scramble to avert Armageddon in an epic saga best described as James-Bond-meets-Star-Wars. A mindblowing stew of sci-fi concepts, brimming with futuristic espionage, hyper action, wild humor, sleek romance, and aliens galore!”

Midnight, Mass. 1 – 8, created by John Rozum (with Jesus Saiz, penciller, and Jimmy Palmiotti, inker) was originally announced as an ongoing series, then cut back to an eight-issue miniseries by the time the first issue came out. It features the world famous paranormal investigators Adam and Julia Kadmon, who live in the town of Midnight, Massachusetts. The first issue is largely devoted to introductions, and the arrival of the Kadmon’s new assistant, Jenny. There’s still some monster fighting, though, which really begins in earnest in the second issue as the Kadmons relate the story of the recent case that made them realize they needed an assistant. Whatever modifications had to be made to convert it into a miniseries don’t really show. I understand there has been talk off and on about development as a TV series, which makes sense. It has the right tone for TV, despite the horror elements. It felt light enough that I don’t think I ever really worried about what would happen to the characters (unlike a typical issue of a Vertigo staple like Hellblazer). I note that these last two series were both inked by Jimmy Palmiotti, a name I would not have associated with Vertigo (although he does not get a creator credit on either of them).

About marksullivan5

Freelance Journalist & Musician; Senior Contributor, All About; writing on comics at & No Flying, No
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