“The VCs: You’re Hit, You’re Dead!” TPB review

vcs

Rebellion has continued its reprinting of classic “2000 AD” comics with this collection of the classic future war series, “The VCs,” an excellent example of why “2000 AD” has been a trendsetter in comics for the last 30 years.

“The VCs” tells the story about the war between the humans – who have colonized the solar system – and an invading alien race called the Geeks, from the perspective of the VCs, one of the human military squads.

“VCs” is short for “vacuum cleaners,” which the group calls itself because they are there to clean up the solar system. The group consists of Sgt. Jupe, Hen-Sho, Dwarf Star, Ringer, Loon, and Steve Smith. Smith is the newest member of the group, the only one born on Earth, and the point of view character throughout the series.

While the series starts off as a fairly standard “good guys vs. bad guys” space war story, the VCs are sent on a series of suicide missions after an uptight, arrogant, superior officer. Unlike other comics that have tried a similar style, the VCs are not safe just because they’re the title characters. Some of them get permanently injured or killed, and there’s no coming back from these injuries.

Another good point about this book is it collects the entirety of the original run of “The VCs” in one volume. Although Dan Abnett revived the series in 2002, the series originally only ran from 1979-1980 before remaining dormant for over two decades. Thus, the reader can get through the original run easily and can see why the series is considered a classic.

Gerry Finley-Day created and wrote the bulk of the stories in this book (with some assists by Steve McManus), and proved why he is considered the master of the future war style of comics. He was able to expertly create a new science fiction universe, give us big action scenes, and simultaneously weaving in commentary about war and the treatment of soldiers with great results.

The art, by Mike McMahon, Garry Leach, Cam Kennedy, and John Richardson, was good too. All the characters were distinct enough from one another, even in their armor, and the Geeks looked like aliens while still being characters the reader could identify with.

The one negative point I have with the book is the casual use of racism in a few places. The VCs are on Mars – Hen-Sho’s home planet – which is populated almost entirely by Chinese people. In one fight scene several of the characters make racially insensitive comments about the Chinese by making a slur about the color of their skin. In another part of the book a character refers to the Geeks by the similar-sounding racial slur normally reserved for Asians during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Some might excuse them as a product of the times, while others might say it’s inexcusable regardless of the circumstances. Reading it in the context of 2008, however, certainly made this reviewer uncomfortable.

Number of stars out of five: Four

Number of dry slaps out of five: One, for the casual racism.

Posted by Luke

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