By Paul Rainey
It’s a funny thing, this webcomic to comic thing…. it messes up the order of things when it comes to previews / reviews etc. I feel like I’ve reviewed this one already, in fact I almost feel like I’ve reviewed it twice. First I reviewed the first two stories online, then went back to review the first issue print version, then put up an Upcoming post for this second print issue, going back over my initial review somewhat.
Right, now that I’ve waffled on too much, let’s just remind ourselves (oh yes, one more time) about Paul Rainey’s Thunder Brother; Soap Division series. In fact, lets have Rainey recap – here’s Page 1 of this issue, a wonderfully concise “previously”….
So what we hjave here is the second story “Going Straight” in this soap opera obsessed multi dimensional saga where Rainey so cleverly mixes out there sci-fi concepts with down to Earth mundanity so very well.
Inside we see Sally Timmins start her apprenticeship with Soap Division, meeting and working alongside the mysterious Thunder Brother, who starts the story by hopping into the oh-so familiar Hut at Jubilee Street, where he appears, befuddles the characters of the soap opera who don’t know they’re in a soap opera, and steals away with nearly, but not quite all the copies of the latest episode of TV Guide…. just like this:
The problem now is that the one copy completely blows the fact that this reality is here just to exist as a soap opera, and this one was produced for a dimension down the road as it were.
Meanwhile, as all this is going on, as a world could potentially be brought to it’s knees by the mistake, as huge events begin to take place and all the power of Soap Division is gearing up to correct the security breach, Sally is having her first day briefing. See what I mean about the perfect mix of the surreal, the fantastical, and the downright mundane?
Sally is now wandering into an adventure that’s essentially The Truman Show or such like, where the cover star of the TV Guide now knows he’s on a soap opera, but the difference here is that this is very definitely one from the viewpoint of the controllers, as we follow TB and Sally to extract the soap star before something terrible happens.
But is it merely an accidental cock up, or is there someone behind this, could it be that someone in the real world is doing all this to destabilise the world?
We’ll find out more as we progress further into the world of Thunder Brother and Soap Division, which you and I can both do by heading online where Rainey has a further three stories for you – The Two Ronnies, Big Break, and the currently serialising Mind Your Language.
(I reckon he may have an inkling of what’s going on, don’t you)
Extra strips this time are Ghost Zombie, a simple little two-pager – “One’s a ghost, one’s a zombie and together they are Ghost.Zombie“, and The Jelly, a little more satisfying 6-pages of a single mum’s search for her snatched baby – and the strange connections between the old Royal family, the New republic and a revolutionary energy supply. Both extras are alright, but the real draw here is seeing how well Rainey spins out the main tale.
My inability to keep up with webcomics, no matter how good they are means I still haven’t gone any further with TB than Going Straight. But reading this issue has made me dive in once more. And I’m quite happy to tell you that I reckon Rainey’s really got something good here. The next three storylines are all cracking, each one delving a little more into the world of Soap Division, using Sally as our window on a very strange world, and Rainey is obviously having a lot of fun as things get very complicated, very meta, very tongue in cheek. All great stuff.
I’ll either be back to tell you about them soon if I get a chance, or certainly when Rainey produces each subsequent issue. But trust me, get online, read them for yourself, and then get out and read the print version to support Rainey’s excellent comic.