Listen carefully because I’ll probably never say this again. You have my permission not to read this review. My advice would be to skip all that and just go buy this book. No seriously, go buy this book, then you can thank me later. So now that you’ve put Sláine: Book of Scars on order or you have it in your warm little hands – I can tell you why I absolutely adore this collector’s item.
This is the 30th anniversary graphic-extravaganza released by 2000AD to celebrate three decades of Sláine. It highlights and showcases some of the most amazing and talented artists to ever work for 2000AD. For uninitiated comic book lovers and rabid fans alike, this is a ‘have to have’.
Sláine is a warrior, both outcast and king, based loosely on a mixture of the mythical hero Cú Chulainn from Celtic legend and Conan the Barbarian. He is gifted with a power known as ‘warp-spasm’ which allows him to channel the power of the earth and transform into a horrifying ‘hulk-like’ berserker. If you thought Bruce Banner was ugly when he got angry, well then you’ve never seen Sláine! He and his shady companion Ukko the dwarf wander the landscape, regularly encountering hordes of evil-doers whom Sláine dispatches with his is axe Brainbiter, a process which often involves an enthusiastic amount of blood and gore.
Sláine has influenced a generation of young and old readers over the past thirty years. Originally created by Pat Mills and his then-wife, Angela Kincaid, this book features some of the best graphic artists to ever grace the page, (Mick McMahon, Glenn Fabry, Simon Bisley, and Clint Langley).
The introduction by artist, Clint Langley had me laughing out loud. While as a child, he was terrorising farm-yard animals re-enacting scenes from our favourite time-travelling Celtic barbarian, I was painting the faces of reluctant neighbourhood kids with braai charcoal and jumping out of trees, screaming “Kiss my AXE!”
Oddly enough, it was right about this time that my parents started paying more attention to exactly which comics I was stealing from my two older brothers. Needless to say, 2000AD issues were now contraband that had to be hidden stealthily between the mattress and the wooden slats of my bottom bunk-bed.
When you speak about 2000AD most people think of Judge Dredd. But for me, Sláine was the reason I risked the wrath of my parents (as well as my older brothers, from whom I stole shamelessly) Maybe because even as a young girl I always imagined I was a Celtic warrior princess, like Medb. With my red hair and whiter than white glow-worm complexion, I even asked my mom to change my name to “Maggie”. After a few days of being called “Maggie Cup-A-Soup” by my brothers, I gave up on that but still, I couldn’t get enough of anything to do with Celtic legend.
The first part of this book is dedicated to a freshly imagined six-part story, where Sláine is cast back in time by the monstrous Guledig to revisit the most pivotal moments of his existence. This section is written by Pat Mills himself and illustrated by the original artists who brought Sláine to life (excluding Massimo Bellardinelli who did one of my all time favourite issues, “Bride of Crom” but who tragically passed away in 2007. That said, this portion of the anniversary edition is expertly inked by Clint Langley.)
The remainder of the book is a love letter to thirty years of Sláine. Every issue cover is featured in glorious detail, with notes from the artists and from others giving us behind-the-scene insights about their creation and what it meant to them. There is also a fantastic array of artwork from the original progs themselves and various additional sources.
If you’re a long-time 2000AD fan, a lover of Slaine, a collector of comic books or even a newbie – this is book worth owning and jealously guarding. Enjoy.