Graphic Novel Reviews

The Ten-Seconders

(2012) Rob Williams, Dom Reardon & Mark Harrison, 2000AD, £14.99 / Can$22.99 / US$19.99, trdpbk, ??pp, ISBN 978-1-781-08066-5


It is the near future (just a few decades hence) and London is a ruin following the arrival of super-beings who now control the world from the US. The British government is purely a puppet one who do the bidding of the 'Gods'.

The London resistance receives information that the government has a prisoner whose importance is such that a God is to come from America. The resistance decide to make a desperate attempt to free the prisoner. The reason that the attempt is 'desperate' is that the average life expectancy of anyone confronting a God is just ten seconds, hence the title of this graphic novel.

As it transpires, the prisoner actually wants to go to the US and so a mission is mounted to cross the Atlantic, a journey that has not been undertaken by anyone unofficial for a number of years…

The graphic novel is a collection of the The Ten-Seconders strip that appeared in the weekly comic 2000AD. The graphic novel actually comprises of two connected stories, The American Dream and Make Believe that ran in 2005/6 and 2008 respectively. This 2012 compilation is the first time these stories have been published as a stand-alone graphic novel.

2000AD is noted for its regular characters, especially Judge Dredd and the Strontium Dogs. However 2000AD has seen a number of short-lived strips that make for ideal graphic novels and this is one of them.

The full colour artwork is provided by Mark Harrison, and Dom Reardon together with some from Shaun Thomas and Ben Oliver. Harrison, for my money, provides the best art and does so for the entirety of 'The American Dream'; a sharp mix of ink and paint. Having said that, the contributions of the other artists should not be dismissed lightly as they do convey the surreal nature of the God encounters.

This story could so easily have slipped into fantasy but manages to stay closer to SF with its take on science-fantasy superheroes. Like Watchmen, The Ten-Seconders is a riposte to the traditional US portrayal of 'super heroes'. Fantastic stuff.

Jonathan Cowie

Note: Subsequent to the stories in this anthology, a new The Ten Seconders strip ran in 2000AD in 2013.

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