The V.C.’s (pkgd. w/ JD Megs #380 – 381) – Dan Abnett

4 out of 5

Exactly the kind of breezy sci-fi at which Dan Abnett excels.

Reprinting the last two arcs of the V.C.s reboot, Old Soldiers and Mail Call (called Old Soldiers part 2 here), Dan takes the grizzled, eponymous space Marines on a hunt and then on a chase.  The latter – as our group searches for a particular G’eek who might help to align the so-called ‘apologist’ G’eek groups to work with the humans to prevent further war with the ‘loyalists’ – has a bit more drive a clear throughline to a conclusion, whereas the former arc is sort of a wind-up, first suggesting a procedural of sorts, then an undercover mission angle, then just shrugging and going in guns blazing.  In both cases it’s still good fun, though, Dan finding an interesting angle with the god-like Polity race that links one arc to the other.  The pacing is also rather interesting; most 2000 AD thrills will focus on a small chunk of time fairly linearly, but The V.C.s is a fast-moving title, respectful of its audience’s abilities to know the tropes that allow us to skip from A to C.  Instead of feeling jumpy, it gives the sense that these folks know what they’re doing, which matches their representation as space veterans.

Artist Anthony Williams does his study, delivering solid character designs and lived-in – if sparse – environments.  His fairly simplistic style works well with the bulky spacesuit setup, though, allowing the proportions to be embellished in such a way to give everyone some visual character without it seeming too cartoony in context.