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Monday, April 20, 2009

The Programme Vol 1. Peter Milligan (Writer), C.P.Smith (Artist), Jonny Rench (Colours), Pat Brosseau (Letters). Wildstorm Productions (2008)

This is a serious and thoughtful take on superheros, I did not warm to it at all. I do admire the ambition and the craft in the book, I do not like it. I found the art harsh and unfriendly and the colours were too glaring, they pushed me out of the book rather than leading me in. The story is excellent and the writing is tough and careful, I could not take to any of the cast, I do not want to spend time with them. I was not so fascinated by them either that I could balance my dislike with a desire to know more about them. One very nice thing about the book is the lack of cynicism in it, the cast are mostly deeply unpleasant, they are sincerely so they are not badly animated stereotypes. The ruthless, good looking female CIA agent is neatly subverted, she is a believable bureaucrat in a brutal industry. The rest of the cast are equally well developed and then subverted as clashing agendas and historical frameworks are invoked. The superheros are the puppets of those who programmed them, Peter Milligan has some serious fun contrasting the mixed up messages of the US programmed creature with the revolutionary zeal of the Russian dolls. There is a thoughtful political edge to the story which gives it weight and momentum. All the craft and talent of the creative team, which is abundantly on display, could not make me care one bit about any of the cast, there was not a human heartbeat among the lot.

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