The Best of Milligan and McCarthy

Peter Milligan and Brendon McCarthy. Dark Horse, $18.74 (264p) ISBN 978-1-6165-5153-7
This collection of Milligan and McCarthy comics is as surprising and helter-skelter as the surreal comics the pair first started creating in the 1970s. This nonchronological collection traces their journey, from the pair’s early art-school experimentation to their work at established publishers like Vertigo and 2000AD, all of it infused with the influences of mod music and symbolist poetry. The collection starts with Milligan and McCarthy’s alt-superhero “Paradax” and leaves their most powerful story, “Skin,” till the end. And while nothing here matches the shocking verve of the latter—it’s a brutally intense coming-of-age story of a disabled skinhead that swerves into horrific fantasy—the centerpiece of this book is undoubtedly the nightmarish “Rogan Gosh.” With a heavy Indian influence, the story showcases McCarthy’s dynamic sense of fantastic design. Not every story here has such impact, however: “Freakwave,” which is set in a wonderfully designed futuristic dystopia, starts out with a darkly witty self-awareness but subsequently collapses into itself. Although the writing establishes Milligan as an emerging talent with no fear of appearing too literary, it’s the art that dominates every page. Infuriating, beautiful, and complex, the collection offers an exceptional overview of two creators who together forged a vibrant and forceful aesthetic. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/07/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
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