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Sgt Mike Battle: The Greatest American Hero #8

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2007
By: Kelvin Green



“Last Admin Hero”

Writer/Artist: Graham Pearce

Publisher: Pier-C Comics
(£1 from Graham Pearce, c/o 42 Talbot Road, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 9QX or grahampearce8@netscape.net)


Previous issues of this title have been a well-judged blend of pitch-perfect parody and scathing satire, and the only change with this issue is that Graham Pearce moves on from GI Joe (#6) and 90's Image and Marvel comics (#7) to affix his parodical eye on that most manly of film genres: the 1980s American action movie. The plot is borrowed from Die Hard, as terrorist group A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. takes over an office building belonging to the U.S. Government, except this time there's no off-duty cop or special forces chef on hand to deal with the crisis (there's even a fun little sequence as the terrorists foresee such an intervention and deal decisively with any potential Right Men At The Right Time, or "Bruces" as they're apparently known in terrorist lingo). Instead, the last hope for America is John Trojan, an admin assistant who was on the toilet when the terrorists rounded up the rest of the staff...

Pearce delights with the usual witty script full of cheeky pop culture references and withering political satire (and even one Fourth Wall breaking dig at his own storyline), but the writer ups his game with this issue by delivering a good solid plot (albeit a borrowed one) on which to hang the jokes. If the writing has a flaw, it's that Pearce allows a number of Britishisms to creep into the script, and I can't help but feel that the comedy would be all the more effective if the characters were more authentically American. On the other hand, that may all be part of the joke.

I don't know if Pearce is a fan of manga, or derives any particular influence from it, but his art style here bears a strong resemblance to that of Dragonball's Akira Toriyama, all exaggerated physiques and dynamic body language, a look that certainly fits the tone of the comic. Pearce also does a great job of capturing the various moods of the story, shifting seamlessly from action to comedy to tension and suspense; Pearce's cartoony figures may not be the most sophisticated, but his sense of storytelling can't be faulted.

I'll be honest: based on the issues of this title I'd read previously, I wasn't sure that there was enough potential in the comic to carry an ongoing, but Graham Pearce has proven me wrong. Not only has the writer found new targets for his wicked mockery, but this issue also delivers a compelling and dramatic story, making the package as a whole all the more satisfying. And it's cheap too, at just One English Pound for thirty-two pages (plus the odd free twelve-pager if you ask nicely).

Great stuff; what more can I say?



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