3 out of 5
‘Freaks’ is pretty standard Milligan fare – a dash of puns, some language / literary references, high-concept quirk – that was written during a good era for ‘standard’ Milligan, the 80s, when his whimsy seemed to flow freely and didn’t feel like an old man trying to prove he’s still got snappy comebacks.
Carl ditches a blind date – she’s too fat, he’s too hip – and catches a bus… Which turns out to be an interstellar transport ship to Kakkak, home of a three-eyed race of beings who wish to study Carl and learn about his “powers,” of which he’s blissfully unaware. Of course, “learn about” turns into “dissect,” soon enough, leaving Carl to apply his meager skills toward escape. John Higgins’ style looks pretty sweet in black and white (it’s normally rather stiff in color), and the script moves along without lingering, only touching upon Millie’s need to always have a romance angle as well as his penchant for deus ex machina’s that bypass a lot of “what next?” tension. It’s a harmless tale told well, with thankfully not enough space to over-embellish the theme of superficiality beyond the premise itself.
Freaks is only half the floppy, though, with Simon Spurrier’s / Richard Elson’s ‘The Scrap’ taking up the other half. Elson’s Image-y style art works better with larger-than-life figures like in Kingdom; the humans of The Scrap are a rather uninteresting bunch. Spurrier’s concept of a rundown city “gifted” to an AI that’s been retired from government work is pretty interesting, but it ends up playing out in a very standard us vs. them setup, and our AI baddie gets slotted into the predictable megalomaniac role, leading the story down an equally predictable path. But Richard’s art is “big,” and the story is short (and again, the concept is sound, the presentation is just limited), so it doesn’t hamper the read all that much.