Bloody Mary

By Garth Ennis, Carlos Ezquerra & various (Image)
ISBN: 978-1-63215-761-4

Let’s go back to a future that never happened… yet…

Fleetway veterans Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra have a long association with British war comics and the apocalyptic visions of alternate lifestyle bible 2000AD, so combining those sensibilities in a near-future World War III adventure must have seemed a natural for the fledgling DC science fiction imprint Helix when they began publishing at the end of the last century.

Since the first 4-part miniseries spawned an almost immediate sequel, they must have been more or less correct, but as Helix folded in the space of a year, with its surviving projects being absorbed by sister/parent imprint Vertigo, this compilation comes to us via them and their championing of creator rights but actually courtesy of creator-owner outfit Image Comics.

Confused yet? Surely not?

In 1999, Europe went back to war: massive, bloody conventional war with the bankrupt and barmy US of A and it’s grovelling toady ally Great Britain, ostensibly over economic and religious differences, but actually because our creators needed a backdrop for the world-weary Mary to display her exceptional talent for slaughter in the signature arena of idiot Generals and venal politicians whose sole reason for existing seems to be to prune back the surplus of the current generation of decent folk.

My other screen is currently updating me on the escalating tariff clashes between the orange office of Trumplestiltskin and the EU, China and probably any country without a national golf course, but I’m sure that’s coincidence, not the late-running of a prediction from a comicbook Nostradamus or two…

Now imagine it’s 2012 again. Under the guise of a mission to secure a biological super-weapon, American commando Corporal Mary Malone – who affects the look of a very mean nun – and a crack team of expendables including her only friend “The Major” spectacularly and gratuitously battle a spectre from her gore-splattered past and the EU’s top psychotic hit-man. Carving a swathe of destruction through Europe’s few remaining landmarks, their mission is to secure the key to immortality (a parasitic organism dubbed the Blood Dragon), but, of course, their superiors have been less than candid in what it actually does or what it’s for and have only themselves to blame when Mary – and her opponents – go off-mission…

Violently engaging, sublimely cathartic and painfully accurate in far too many prognostications, this first tale (released in 1996) was followed by an equally engaging follow up.

Bloody Mary: Lady Liberty was issued a year later and sees an older, wiser Malone return to a devastated America. With the Major in tow she agrees to wrest New York City from the half-million religious maniacs who have captured it. The messiah du jour is Achilles Seagal: a bigoted, populist raving lunatic with the common touch, a unique manner of phrasing complex issues who knows just what to say to make people do what he wants…

Trenchant, savagely satirical, gripping and never less than totally thrilling, this slice of dark, edgy fun shows Ennis and the much-missed Ezquerra at their anarchic irreverent best, ably assisted by letterer Annie Parkhouse and colourists Matt Hollingsworth & Chris Chuckry , giving you an everyman view of all the hell-and-stupidity our leaders happily drag us ordinary mortals through far too often.

Grown-up comics at its very best and long overdue for its rightful place on your bookshelf or in your digital library.
© 2016 Garth Ennis & Carlos Ezquerra. All rights reserved.