Review: Slaine – The Book of Scars / Author: Pat Mills / Artist: Clint Langley, Mick McMahon, Glenn Fabry, Simon Bisley / Publisher : Rebellion / Release Date: November 7th
After 30 years, it’s a crying shame that Sláine is not as famous as his Hollywood-bothering fellow 2000AD co-star, Judge Dredd. The ancient Irish hero, whose original exploits were very loosely based on various Celtic myths, is a very British take on the clichéd barbarian hero in a savage fantasy world, and is both charming and completely bonkers. Sláine - The Book of Scars is a whistle stop tour through the character’s back story. The rough plot involves Sláine’s perennial enemy Guledig throwing the hero through time to relive key moments in the hero's journey.
This is not, thankfully, an excuse to do a bunch of reprints; the stories are indeed retreads of old highlights, each with a clever twist. They’ve invited many of old Sláine artists back to give the tale a truly authentic feel. Talented artist and digital wizard Clint Langley (who holds the record for creating the lion’s share of the Celtic hero’s art) not only makes the various ‘bridging’ scenes in this anthology look gorgeous, he also does an exceptional job of mimicking the art style of the late Massimo Belardinelli for one of the key sequences in the book. Also of special note is Glen Fabry’s sequence; those with fond memories of The Horned God will appreciate the wry wit on display here, both in the art and writing.
The other half of this thick hardback book is a collection of 2000AD covers featuring Sláine, accompanied by commentaries by the various artists who created them. This also functions as a nifty summary of the barbarian’s adventures thus far. Though this is nice, it does feel a little like padding in parts. There’s nothing really stunningly new or insightful here, but the hard work that has gone into making Sláine the popular character he is today is pretty amazing. It also features an afterword from Black’s Books writer Graham Linehan, which is as engaging as you’d expect it to be.
Overall, this is a nice coffee table book for a character that really does deserve to be better known. Perhaps, after thirty long years, the axe-wielding, spiky haired, scar covered hero has only just begun his journey.