(2005) Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra, Titan Books, £11.99, trdpbk, 192pp, ISBN 1-845-76198-7
This is a collection of the two Helix 4-issue mini-series from 1996/7, Bloody Mary and Bloody Mary: Lady Liberty by Garth (Hellblazer, Preacher) Ennis and Carlos (Judge Dredd, Saint of Killers) Ezquerra. Full of 'black humour and gritty realism', Bloody Mary is set in a war-torn 2012 with a fascist European continent at war with the US and her ally the Brits. Corporal "Bloody Mary" Malone is one of only two survivors from the finest kill team ever assembled and her masters are giving her a new mission. Apparently someone has a super-weapon that could turn the tide of the war and Mary must retrieve it at all costs. The 'someone' in question being the other kill team survivor, Mary's old commander, Anderton. With an insane British Major, known as 'The Major', Mary must infiltrate a Europe where, if discovered, she will be killed instantly. As if this weren't enough, Mary is being stalked by an assassin, the Vatman, who has his own reasons for seeing her fail. In "Lady Liberty" Mary is back with the Yanks trying to recover Manhattan from a religious maniac who has inspired his followers to 'lend' him their wives and daughters so that he can impregnate 144,000 women and fulfil a prophecy. Ennis has written a tale which, not surprisingly to those who know his work, combines ultra-violence with Pythonesque humour in a slightly hysterical future. All good fun. Ezquerra's art is readily accessible to any old 2000AD fans, and readers of Preacher spin-offs, and is luscious throughout. Not a lot else to say really. Mary didn't survive past these two tales, unless Ennis resurrects her in future, so there's no more to come. But I will say, well done, they didn't cheat and try to bring this out as two slim volumes. Arguably they could have made a couple more quid that way, but they resisted the temptation. I call eight issues for £11.99 a good price. What do you mean, you 'prefer it when I bitch'? Oh, all right, the paper's crap, but if it weren't, then it probably would be more expensive. Hey, you get what you pay for, don't you know that...?
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