Ah, the 1980’s: a decade of consumerism, no-so-great music and bad, bad hair. Well, some of the music was quite good but teased and/or poofed up hair was a horrible mistake! A horrible one!
Still, it was a good decade for comics. Stories and art became more sophisticated forms of literature, the graphic novel format came to the fore, and the medium became legit in eyes of the mainstream press. Sure, there was a lot of negativity to be passed around too. Superheroes became too dour, for one, and comic books themselves became altogether too violent, too graphic.
In 1987, you’d think that all of that negative press was due to one little comic book mini-series: Marshall Law.
Written by: Pat Mills
Illustrated by: Kevin O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Emblemized with the words “Fear and loathing” written on his lower torso armour, the character of Marshall Law is a law enforcement officer who’s job is to take down superheroes gone rogue. Often, is done rather violently.
Uh, that’s probably an understatement.
In the spirit of Watchmen and, to certain extents, The Dark Knight Returns, the Marshall Law series is both a deconstruction and a parody of the superhero while pointing a (middle) finger at 1980’s U.S. right-wing government politics. Of course, it was something only two British chaps could conceive. Pat Mills was heavily involved with the 2000 AD publication in England, writing many of the early Judge Dredd tales. Kevin O’Neil, meanwhile, received more notoriety in North America as the illustrator of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Marshall Law was one of the first creator-owned series’ released by any of the big publishers, helping blaze a trail that would become a staple in today’s comic book landscape.
Marshall Law: The Deluxe Edition compiles the original six-issue mini-series (originally published by Epic Comics) as well as six other publications, collecting nearly all of the characters appearances in one big, 480-page book.
There are a lot of fans out there that have been waiting for this release. It’s a little on the pricey side at $49.99, but as a pastiche of superheroes and politics, this 1980’s comic still stands up as relevant today, both in theme, art form and entertainment.
Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!