Revere Book 1-3
By John Smith, Simon Harrison & Annie Parkhouse
Review by Luke Williams
Rebellion continues to mine the Galaxy’s Greatest’s back catalogue for previously forgotten gems. Were it not for the advent of digital publishing certain strips that have cult status wouldn’t see a collected edition, other than perhaps as a reprint as a floppy with the Judge Dredd Megazine. Or as in the case here, way back in 2007 in an issue of the short lived reprint title 2000AD Extreme Edition (no.20 if you want to hunt it out)
An occult, surreal post apocalyptic acid trip, set in a dried out London following a global climate disaster “Revere” is difficult to pigeon hole. There were many 2000AD strips with an environmental catastrophe theme in the mid nineties, “Dead Meat”, “Trash”, “Mother Earth”, but “Revere” was always going to be different in that it united the talents of two of the most divisive and idiosyncratic creators to grace the pages of 2000AD, John Smith and Simon Harrison.
Revere lives with the floating head of his mother, scavenging the dereliction for water, food, supplies to stay alive. London is policed by the Lanzers.
Revere can project his consciousness across the country, when he is caught by a mysterious hermit, who hints at his true destiny. Over the 3 six episode books, “Finders Edge”, “Written in Water” and curiously unimaginatively titled “Book III” Revere meets his soon to be lover Chloe, combats the oppressive Lanzers and their leader the brutal Commander Kneale and undergoes transformation and rebirth.
Both creators love their body horror and techno babble and Harrison lays it on thick. Page layouts are conventional, but there is brain melting use of colour in each panel, surreal, psychedelic, moving to a darker palette with Book III. Harrison’s almost abstract art is emotive, lurid and frequently disturbing in its imagery and violence. Wonderful to look at, it loses something in its occasional incoherence in storytelling and seems reduced to a series of random multicoloured images.
Coupled with Simon Harrison’s art, Smith’s dense and highly evocative writing style makes this a demanding read. Smith’s previous collaborators, such as Steve Dillon, Chris Weston and Mike Hadley were reasonably conventional artists, off-setting or perhaps, grounding , Smith’s stream of consciousness, unusual syntax, highly evocative writing style and wonderful use of metaphor.
For all its deliberate obscurity, when you cut through the art and the psychobabble, the plot is quite conventional. Revere undergoes a mystical rite of passage and becoming a harbinger of change in the post apocalyptic world. You can consider the deeper meaning, dismiss it as pretentious nonsense or enjoy the hallucinatory atmosphere and feeling of dislocation in what is still one of the most adventurous strips from two of the most “out there” creators in 2000AD.