Absalom: Under A False Flag

2000AD has had it’s fair share of truly gritty characters and most of them can be traced as a form of homage to pop cultural icons.  Harry Absalom is a grimy, sarcastic, grumpy, tough old bastard – he’s cut from the same cloth as Jack Regan from The classic UK TV series ‘The Sweeney’, uncompromising and anti-authoritarian.

As mentioned before, Harry is an old fashioned Detective inspector, he’s talented at taking down some seriously twisted criminals, the twist?  well.. these perpetrators are mostly supernatural in origin.   Any time something that smells like the work of hellspawn manifests on the earthly realm, he’s called in.  The fight against Hell has become increasingly personal for Harry, his grandchildren have been kidnapped by a powerful cabal of demons – who send him pictures of them growing older each year, in a variety of affectionate poses with the grotesque monsters of the nether-realms.  He’s desperately plotting a way to rescue them before their innocent souls are completely corrupted, but he’s running out of time – he is also struggling with a cancerous series of tumours ravaging his body, carving dark hollows across his flesh.

With all this against him, Harry should be a nervous wreck, but he’s cut of sterner stuff, he has a resolve of iron and that’s what turns this rotting, suspicious and frankly deceitful man into a hero.  He’s strength through the tremendous adversity  is the element of dramatic tension that underlines this narrative wonderfully.  He’s a man with a narrow focus – keep England safe from the demonic horde and protect his family.  At times we see the cracks, we see the strain and sometimes honestly angst ridden emotion pours through the dark hollows pronounced in his face.  We see this when he grips the taunting photo’s of his grandchildren sent to him by the devils who threaten humanity – this scenes are heartbreaking and touch the reader, bringing forth needed empathy with a strongly written character.

Never before have I understood so much regarding a character while looking at their character design, Harry is drawn like a scarecrow, hanging together – sinew and bone poking through the thin paper-pulp of withering flesh.  When he looks up at the reader through the dark cavernous hollows of his eye sockets – we feel the depth of his soul bearing down on us, his every movement with his limbs awkward and unnatural.  His shirt is always half untucked, his billowing overcoat is taped together, we see flashbacks to times where he was more composed, his clothes tightly buttoned across his chest – we feel what these years of endless investigation and battle has cost him, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The enemies that Absalom faces are varied and terrifying, the initial story in this collection sees Harry tracking down a monster who captures the souls of children in a camera – every time he takes a picture, he leaves behind a hollowed husk, destroying the human being.  The monster displays an almost sickening carnal lust for the children’s images – its the character design and twisted nature of the cleverly conceived antagonists which unsettles and captivates in equal measures.

This is a superb series of interlinking supernatural police procedurals, dynamic and  stylish.  Purchase this and you will be in for a treat – delving deep inside the personality of Harry and the world which he seeks to protect, his offbeat style and witty comebacks and intense passion for justice in a dark and unjust world.  He’s a hero you can count on, his most important characteristic is his cancer-ridden heart – he always focuses on doing what’s right, no matter the personal cost.

Available from the 2000AD shop at the link below:

https://shop.2000ad.com/catalogue/XB612

 

Title: Absalom: Under a False Flag

Publisher: Rebellion/ 2000AD

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Dr Chris McAuley

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