Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Book Review : The VC's Back In Action - Dan Abnett 6*

This is a real blast from the past, I must have been in my early teens when the original series of The VC's ran in 2000AD.  Back then is was a fairly typical 2000Ad storyline, lots of gunfire and action and plot sections designed to fit into four or five pages of a comic leaving some sort of cliffhanger ending for next week's issue to pick up on.

Back In Action has a more flowing storyline, Abnett begins with showing us Steve Smith, survivor of the previous G'egeekajee war.  Smith is now a janitor in a space station, and is haunted by the ghosts of his fallen comrades.  He reluctantly accepts an invitation to the 50th commemoration of the end of the war where the unthinkable happens, the Geeks launch a second attack.

Abnett works a trick into the plot to get the VC's back in their original armour and weapons to preserve the look of the series, drawn this time around by Henry Flint and Anthony Williams.  I'm not sure that trick is entirely plausible, but the look of the comic is important, it wouldn't quite be the VC's without the bug eared helmets (inspiration for the later Battlestar Gallactica Cylons ?) and the hand painted name tags on the soldier's chest armour.

The story is decent enough, as the VC's struggle to gain an advantage in the second war, they discover the Geeks are building a super weapon with the capability to destroy Earth.  On the icy moon Charon, where the VC maxim of  "If you're hit, you're dead" holds true more than ever, the squad are scattered and almost destroyed in their desperate race to get the information back home.

Abnett adds some more modern touches to his re-working of the series, here there are women in the front line, a humanist G'egeekajee assigned to Smith's squad who stretches Smith's belief and trust to breaking point and ship captains who behave more like mercenaries, Smith's second war is even more dangerous and confusing than the first one.

On the critical side, I can't help feeling that most of Abnett's VC's moves over well trodden ground, the book shares elements of the films Starship Troopers, Alien and even Predator, perhaps this is just because there is so little truly new space to be found in sci-fi, or in that re-working an old story you are by necessity stuck with certain well used elements of the plot.  Spoiler ahead : I thought Abnett had pulled off a brave stroke in the character decimating style of Steven Erikson which would, in my opinion, have lifted the book a little, but Abnett returns all the characters to more or less full health.

A decent enough tpb, I enjoyed it, and I can't deny that I enjoyed it because it stirred echoes from my childhood, I would be interested to hear someones opinion of the comic for whom Back In Action would be their first encounter with the VC's.


  1. Lend it to me then and I'll give a newby perspective. I'm later 2000AD so missed the VC's original runs.

  2. It's a library book mate, but it doesn't look to be all that popular so it'll probably stay on the shelf when I return it.