Right, here’s another one of those several issues in and the plots getting complicated, too complicated to try to explain without spoiling the story so far sort of things.
Which is a quick way to explain the brevity of the review. Another simpler way would be to point out that the number of days to Christmas Eve is actually now half the number of reviews I need to do to take some Christmas time off to recharge.
Right, first things first, it’s essentially a middle issue of the story, where we’ve settled down now, and are used to the rotating cast of artists detailing the many aspects of life in Fathomsby, your typical Northern seaside town. Well, your typical Northern seaside town plus extra weirdness galore.
I’ve already reviewed issues 1 & 2 & 3 and had a great time amongst the weird and wonderful inhabitants of the little seaside town with a difference. The clever trick Rol Hirst pulls off each issue of writing a soap opera with nasty bits and having a different artist come in for a couple of pages every time the scene shifts to another character is still well done, still interesting, still a wonderfully elegant solution to developing a long-running story without relying on a single artist unable to commit the time needed.
(DI Sam Kamara. Not enjoying his new job in Fathomsby one bit. Art by Stephen Prestwood)
We’ve been introduced to the wonderfully weird cast, and we’re discovering just how connected everything in Too Much Sex & Violence really is. The only sane man in Fathomsby (or so he thinks) is crusading cop Sam Kamara, sent here after exposing a little police corruption. He’s only just beginning to discover (as are we) what a unique place Fathomsby is.
(The ghost has a plan. It may be nasty. Oh hell, this is Fathomsby, it will be nasty. Great art from Nigel Lowry)
This issue starts with Kamara investigating those bizarre cattle mutilations, we meet a ghost girl with a deadly grudge against gangster Dermot and his dominatrix wife Dorothy we get to see the contents of Dorothy’s basement, and in a not unrelated moment find time to return to the case of missing comic artist Rusty, whose journalist girlfriend Kathy is in town doing a little missing person work, and we catch up with Dermot’s son Ryan do a little re-animation of his mate Alfie, whom we saw squished by ex-superhero Harry Hall way back in issue 1.
Except didn’t the end of issue 3 see ex-superhero Harry Hall, desperate and remorseful after said squishing, commandeer the local mad scientist’s time-machine? I have the feeling that one’s going to come back round soon. Hell, it may already have done so.
Complex? Oh yes. Worth doing the necessary work to piece it all together? Damn right.
(Dorothy’s basement. Not somewhere you want to be. Art by Andrew Cheverton.)
But this time I thought at first that there was something missing from this issue. It just felt a little flat, a very typical middle issue, plots developing, yet not really doing much. So I read it again, after reading issues 1-3 once more, and with the benefit of the backstory, it all bursts into life once more, I start piecing together the links, follow the cast across the issues, start seeing connections and possibilities.
In fact, I’d go so far as saying it’s practically pointless right now picking up issue 4 without having access to the first 3 issues. Consider it the equivalent of watching an episode of Corrie or similar every 3 months and expecting to remember just what happened last time. You wouldn’t do it with tellie, and you shouldn’t do it with Too much Sex & Violence, which frankly is beginning to feel like a great, great mix of Coronation Street, The Prisoner, Hammer Horror, but relocated to somewhere very Royston Vaisey-esque, where everyone is teetering on the thin line between strange and out and out creepy, scary creepy, homicidally creepy creepy. You know what I mean.
The only solution I’m afraid will be for you to buy and read the lot. Not a chore. Nowhere near a chore. In fact, Rol Hirst makes it even easier and enjoyable, with a bargain bumper 4-pack available from his online store. Weirdly wonderful.