Friday, 25 May 2012

'Mighty Samson: Judgment' - Shooter, Vaughn, Olliffe & Irwin (Dark Horse Books)

I love a good dose of 'post apocalypse', this probably won't come as any surprise to anyone who has read this blog for more than a week... ;o) I love watching something horrible happening to the Earth (safe in the knowledge that my sofa is comfy and all is well outside) and how a hardy bunch of survivors deal with it all as it happens. What I love even more though is visiting Earth long after the apocalypse took place and seeing how things have changed in the intervening centuries (surprisingly so given that I don't feature that kind of thing here very often if at all, too much other stuff to read)... I'm talking 'Planet of the Apes' or 'Logan's Run' here, future societies that have no real memory of their past.

When I got the chance to read 'Mighty Samson' then, I pretty much jumped at the chance. We're looking at a future New York that is now N'Yark , five hundred years after the apocalypse, preyed upon by jungle monsters and ruthlessly subjugated by the Jerz tribe and their Queen Terra. N'Yark's only hope for survival is a man who was cast out of the settlement as a baby. A mutant with not only heightened senses but strength as well. Samson must come of age quickly in a world where strength alone will not be enough to protect him against the wiles of a dark queen...

'Mighty Samson' collects the four issues from the (fairly) recent Dark Horse re-imagining of the classic series and only weighs in at a painfully slender ninety two pages. I'm pretty sure that the 'Dark Horse Presents' books are a comparable size at about half the price... Comments about the price to one side though, it's clear that 'Mighty Samson' doesn't give itself a lot of room to tell a story so don't expect anything too deep and involved here. Character development is hinted at (and the attempts of Zarsk and Nartz to profit from everything make for an amusing sideshow) but when survival is a far more pressing concern the focus will inevitably fall on the action sequences instead. These are worth the price of entry although the artwork can feel a little rushed here at times, Shooter and Olliffe combining well to show us how far civilisation can fall into savagery (and be threatened by giant insects) in five hundred years.

A little light on plot then? I'd say yes but Shooter makes up for this not only in terms of sheer energy, driving things forwards, but with slightly comedic moments as well. If your lead character is pretty much invulnerable then a great way to keep the readers on board is to have a little bit of fun with that. The sequence where Samson has a conversation with his dead mother, casually batting monsters out of the way without even thinking of it, is played strictly for laughs and you can't help but laugh along with it. What is really interesting though are the moments where we get just a brief glimpse of Samson's character slowly beginning to develop. A man who has previously relied on his strength, and the natural order of this new society, must now question what is right and what his responsibilities really are. You don't really get much time to see what makes Samson start questioning himself but I was left with the impression that Samson's naivety could make for some interesting storylines in the future. I'll admit right now that I knew nothing about this title until I saw the book, have there been any more books since?

The ending sets things up, very nicely, for more to come in the future and if there is more to come I wouldn't mind seeing if some kind of story grows out of these pulp beginnings (nothing wrong with pulp but I wouldn't mind seeing a little more story...) 'Mighty Samson' is a lightweight read, in more ways than one, but an intriguing one at the same time...

Eight out of Ten

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