it takes off, as it should, this could be
the most important comic of the decade."
Time out 1988
was Fleetway's politically charged publication from 1988, which
drag mainstream British comics kicking and screaming
into maturity. At least,
that was the plan. It was launched as an off-shoot
from 2000ad and sported
the tag-line '2000ad presents...' above its
title, and several of that comic's
artists and writers let their imaginations run
loose on the new publication.
For the first fourteen issues, readers were
presented with two big strips.
Pat Mills and Carlos Ezquerra's "Third World
War" focused on a student, Eve,
who is forcibly enlisted and thrown into the melee
of a multi-national war against
poverty. Incredible to see this comic strip
tackling a subject that now, fifteen
years later, is the center of attention around the
world. Then there was "New
Statesmen", by John Smith and Jim Baikie. This
one focused on new genetic
supermen, known as Optimen, engineered to be
the ultimate super-weapons.
Again, genetic reasearch is one of the new millenium's
main points of political
debate, is it not?
More top strips followed from some equally-top
talent. There was "Troubled Souls",
by Garth Ennis and John McCrae which was set in Belfast,
and Ennis teamed
with Warren Pleece to give us "True Faith",
which looked at religion and belief
through modern young eyes. "Third World War"
returned for "Book II" and "Book III"
and by the end of the comic's second year we
even had Grant Morrison's
"'The New Adventures of Hitler" to
stimulate debate and discussion.
After issue 49, Fleetway decided to adapt "Crisis"
in to a new monthly format.
Now we were presented with selections of stand-alone
strips each month,
as opposed to those on-going tales. Sadly, it
was wound up after just
fourteen more issues.
So where did the title fail, exactly? Well,
it certainly didn't embrace its
readership. From the very first issue readers were
simply dropped into the
strips with ne'er an explanation and the most scant
of editorial prologues.
There wasn't even a welcoming page from the
creative team, celebrating this
new fortnightly title and setting out its aims. The
comic appeared to be
preaching to the pre-converted. Indeed, a year down
the line it still lurked
half-heartedly in the shadows on newsagents
shelves, waiting to be
"discovered" by a wider readership
who probably didn't know it was
there for them. And worse, when they did eventually
pick it up, many
must have felt they were arriving late to a party
to which they
were never really invited in the first place!
Presentation aside, this comic was certainly a brave
stab at something
mature, and it should be applauded for drawing new
talent out of the
underground and leading them to mainstream success,
allowing established artists and writers to bring
new themes and darker
subtexts in to Britain's newsagents. One suspects
it opened the door to
the likes of Vertigo; DC Comics' more sophisticated
British cousin which
launched back in the 1990s. But "Crisis"'
failure to engage the masses
was a crying shame, because the quotes and reviews
were actually right:
It could have become the most important comic
of the decade...
Rebellion have been keeping
Crisis memories alive with
a splendid covers page, in their
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