PrintE-mail Written by Alister Davison

When an extra-terrestrial finds himself trapped in Victorian England, the primitive technology offering no opportunity to return home, he seeks to escape by suicide. Fortunately, he's found in the nick of time by prostitute Mandy Flynn, and the two of them set up a ‘consulting detective agency’ which also serves to stop the alien Bozz from getting bored and making further attempts to kill himself. Teaming up with unruly Texan Salem Hawkshaw, the trio find themselves up against various villains, ranging from mad professors and the denizens of hell itself, as they solve crimes the police have deemed as too strange.

This is the world of The Bozz Chronicles, a graphic novel consisting of the six-issue series that was first published by Marvel’s Epic line in the mid 1980’s. It’s taken a lot for this to see print, as much of the work was thought lost, and publishers Dover have done a cracking job assembling it all into a neat paperback package, one that also contains insightful introductions from creators David MIchelinie and Bret Blevins.

Almost thirty years on, it feels very much of its time. Too often, the dialogue and thoughts of the characters are pure exposition or a brief summary of what happened in the previous issue, which becomes a chore to read in a volume like this. Mandy’s accent is a collection of clichéd Cockney soundbites that come across as more Dick van Dyke than Audrey Hepburn, and there are a handful of racial stereotypes that may make readers uncomfortable.

Fortunately, it's more hit than miss. There’s a sly wit throughout, which comes across in both writing and art; the concept itself – a suicidal ET detective, marooned on the wrong planet at the wrong time – remains impressive, and mixes Steampunk with the supernatural in a way that was unheard of all those years ago. Bozz himself is appropriately aloof and otherworldly, trapped emotionally as well as physically, meaning it's Mandy who drives the narrative. She's not your typical hooker with a heart of gold, as she also benefits from her arrangement with Bozz, which makes her much more believable. Granted, she shows a lot of suspender and is often in her nightdress, but how many comics of the time could claim a female lead? 

On completion, it leaves the reader wondering what could have been if the series had continued; despite tying things up with a heartwarming ending, it feels like a prologue, a first arc that has introduced and set up its characters for further adventures. Overall, The Bozz Chronicles is an interesting snapshot of the era in which it was created, and great fun to boot.



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