Neroy Sphinx: Back in the Game


By Daniel Whiston, Johnny McMonagle, James Kircough, Dave Thomson & Bolt-01 (FutureQuake Press)
ISBN: 978-0-9931849-0-1

If you grew up British in the last half century and read home-produced adventure comics you were primarily consuming either war or science fiction tales – and preferably both.

2000AD launched in February 1977 and quickly reshaped the minds of a generation of readers. It has been doing so ever since, consequently affecting and inspiring hundreds of creators…

Very much in the mould of the anarchic, subversive and wickedly cynical weekly comes this superb collection of tales starring a devious and irredeemably self-serving chancer with the fate of humanity unhappily piled on his shifty, unwilling and mostly uncaring shoulders.

Neroy Sphinx first began intermittently appearing in Indie comics sensation FutureQuake – specifically between issues #4-20, from 2005 to 2012 – and his quixotic escapades have now been fully remastered and gathered in this bombastic black-&-white paperback book, supplemented with two new tales.

Any further background you might require is eagerly included in ‘Who is Neroy Sphinx? – Foreword by James Lovegrove’

Written throughout by Daniel Whiston, a peek into the legendary wrong-un’s murky history is first provided by ‘Blast from the Past: Prologue’, illustrated by Dave Thomson and set in the final days of EarthFed when sleazy politico and trade-whore Neroy saw most of his Ponzi-scheme style deals with alien races coming adrift all at once.

He didn’t care. He was using government resources to sift space for priceless Pre-Collapse artefacts and relics. A fortune could be made with the smallest shard of 10,000-year-old tech and he’s been stockpiling them for years…

However when über-psionic Clarence Griffin located a high-potential prospect, Sphinx, with assistants Anubis and Bast, discovered an asteroid-sized armaments cache of the Ancients and allies quickly became enemies. Sphinx was the only one to return, escorting a lethal and lovely autonomous weapons-system and concealing a deadly secret…

From FutureQuake #4, ‘One Last Job’ (art by Johnny McMonagle with grey-tones by Thomson) opens ten years later with Neroy now a scuzzy conman and partial amnesiac, fallen foul of elderly, astoundingly vicious mobster Mr. Dubblz. The wizened felon wants Sphinx to shepherd an art-heist but hasn’t reckoned on his cat’s-paw fooling not just the cops but also his employer…

Free and finally off-planet, ‘The Job From Hell’ (James Kircough/Thomson) finds the aging grifter on Proxima and slowly recovering memories. Unfortunately the first thing he remembers is that he removed certain recollections himself, in an effort to excise something too horrible to deal with.

In a certain place a decade ago he and Griff had accidentally unlocked a gate which had kept out voracious things from beyond human space for ten millennia. Griffin had done something to slow them down but with the door open they would certainly return one day soon… and now Sphinx again knows they’re coming…

An aimless wanderer, the mountebank resurfaces on a feudal backwater and becomes a pawn in a royal power-grab on ‘The De’Splurge Job’ (McMonagle/Thomson) before getting stuck as an indentured labourer on a privately-owned planet where his native cunning soon exploits the exploiters in ‘Fall to Rise’ (Kircough/Thomson)…

Glimmers of a long-term plan of counterattack can be discerned but things get decidedly hinky after Sphinx’s libidinous nature drags him into a transgender trap and another scammer’s scheme to steal a precious treasure in ‘What You See Ain’t What You Get’ (McMonagle/Thomson), after which more suppressed memories are revealed in ‘Ice Woman’ (Kircough/Thomson) as he is reunited with Fenris, the living weapon he once resurrected.

The meeting is brief and not amicable…

With human space gradually being infested by alien intruders ‘Cassiopian Queen’ (Kircough/Thomson) sees the Machiavellian miscreant captured by the sorry remnants of EarthFed security, only to turn the tables on both cops and the crazy space pirates challenging them for mastery of the void with exactly the kind of illicit tech everyone is chasing him for…

A valued old associate Neroy doesn’t remember fortuitously returns in ‘Enter the Griffin’ (Kircough/Thomson) when Sphinx is infected with a nano-virus to make him a much more motivated thief. Sadly for the gang boss with the antidote, the fabulous fraudster’s former friends haven’t forgotten him…

By now aware of the alien hell that’s coming, the getaway genius finds himself in a most unpleasant Institution beside humanity’s foremost expert on Galactic History, but as he now has a plan to deal with the incipient incursion all Neroy needs is a little more background information before ‘Breakin’ Outta the Bughouse’ (Dave Thomson)…

The final piece of the puzzle means heading back to poor, shattered Earth and a reunion with Griff and Fenris, but sadly ‘Old Familiar Places’ (Thomson) often house bad memories too and Mr. Dubblz has exceptional recall but no mercy…

Everything ends with a tantalising taste of things (hopefully) to come as last survivor Ensign Eudora Carver barely escapes her final skirmish with alien horrors thanks to an infuriating holo-message and bequest from the legendary Neroy Sphinx himself in the Thomson limned ‘Blast from the Past: Epilogue’

To Be Continued…

But Wait, There’s More…

Rounding off the extraterrestrial experience, ‘Extras’ offers a pulchritudinous pin-up of ‘Princess Alloria’ by McMonagle, a handy ‘Timeline of the EarthFed Universe’ and ‘Script Notes & Sketches’ by Daniel Whiston & McMonagle, plus Dave Thomson’s ‘FutureQuake #20 Cover’ of the diabolical Mr. Dubblz.

Ambitious, gloriously engaging and exceedingly well-executed; this is contemporary space-opera with a broad scope and a deft touch that will delight lovers of edgy but light-hearted fantastic fiction.
© 2014 Daniel Whiston. All rights reserved.

Neroy Sphinx – Back in the Game is a mere £5.00 (plus P&P) and the latest issue of FutureQuake and companion mag Zarjaz are also available at the shop on their website.