Graphic Novel Review

RoboHunter: Play it Again, Sam

(2005) John Wagner, Alan Grant and Ian Gibson, Rebellion, 11.99, trdpbk, pp unnumbered, ISBN 1-904-26547-2


In the future if you have a troublesome robot, or indeed a robot that has gone all criminal, and tackling it is a bit difficult, you'll need the services of your friendly 'Robo-Hunter' who in this case is Sam Slade. Slade is very much a spoof of a Harrison Ford 'Bladerunner' character, though conceived before the film. His adventures are chronicled in 2000AD which is (currently) Britain's only science fiction comic (available in high street shops, as there are SF comics in specialist shops). This graphic novel chronicles four of his adventures a little while and a couple of escapades after his return from Verdus and were originally published in the comic way back in 1982.

Slade is now in Brit Cit: a futuristic Britain that originally, it was hinted, was in the same future (or a parallel one at least) as the Judge Dredd universe. 'Hinted' because a number of Judge Dredd adventures mention, and/or have characters from Brit Cit, and Dredd's universe has whacky robots not to mention is set in the future. This Brit Cit is a light spoof on Britain and the British (and not dark as in the Dredd stories), not least because Robo Hunter is a comedy-thriller strip. Sam Slade is the straight man with a noir-ish, Marlow private detective type image. His foils are Hoagy, a dim but well meaning robot (Yup) and Stogie his (Cuban) robo-cigar that is slowly reducing his nicotine intake.

In these adventures he is up against (or with depending on your perspective) Kidd who was the pilot that previously took him to Verdus but which, due to a quirk of relativity, took the form of a baby but with an adult's faculties. Along the way he has a case given him by the British Prime Minister (or Prime Droid) who is in turn a spoof of Margaret Thatcher.

Good fun, spiced with occasional cultural references not to mention science fictional ones (such as the robots from Silent Running). A must if you are into SF and comics. Ideal as a present for that young relative at Christmas to whom you wish to quietly introduce the SFnal ways. The rebellion graphic novels are also a great way to catch up on 2000AD characters especially if you live outside the UK and can't fact the prospect of an overseas subscription (or face some of the strips that don't quite make the generally superior grade). Though this graphic novel was published December 2005, these stories (from 1982) are in black and white. However what you lose in colour you gain in page count (though unnumbered its got to be over 100-150 pages). For those who want to know what comes next, yes Sam does have more adventures before Hoagy and Stogie foist themselves on one of Sam's younger relatives, Samantha (Sam) Slade. That's S - L - A - Y - E - D to you.

Jonathan Cowie

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