Husks (Book Three, Part 26: Insiders, Skin)
If you enjoy Last War in Albion, you might also enjoy my new comic series Britain a Prophecy, which is so overtly in the same tradition of 80s/90s British comics that I even called the first arc The Last War in Albion. The first issue is available on a free/pay what you want basis.
Previously in The Last War in Albion: Garth Ennis exemplified a tension within the British comics scene of the period, oscillating between strong political investments and vapid edgelording. The latter aesthetic, however, was exemplified by Mark Millar.
The qlippoths are generally understood as hells, although the word means husks or shells. It’s what remains once the sacred energy in things has departed. The sacred energy is meaning. When the meaning of a thing moves on, that thing becomes a husk. -Alan Moore, Promethea
Millar made his Fleetway debut late in the run of Crisis and Revolver. His first such effort, a one-off called “Her Parents” in Crisis #31, is a curious thing; the story of a boy enduring the attentions of his date’s parents while waiting for her to finish getting ready. It is essentially a comedy about how desperately unpleasant the parents are—bellicose, bigoted, and obsessed with football. The story does not really have a plot—it simply ends when his date finally comes down with no real reveal or resolution, as though the sole point had been to tarry in the unpleasant space of the parents’ living room for the sake of being there. Another strip, in the Revolver Horror Special, takes a similar general approach, following a sexist asshole named Brian who’s obviously obsessed with his mother before an ending reveal that his mother is an emaciated figure handcuffed to the bed so that he never has to leave her. This at least has something resembling a plot—there’s a reveal at the end that pays off and shades what came before instead of just “the person he was waiting for comes downstairs.” But the overall point is still simply to depict the unpleasantness, not to mock it or satirize it as Garth Ennis does, but simply because misogyny and homophobia are viewed as worth spending time with.
The picture becomes clearer when you look at Millar’s longer works of the period. His professional debut was a series called Saviour that managed six issues at Trident before the company went bankrupt, the first drawn by Daniel Vallely, the rest by Nigel Kitching. It is undoubtedly an ambitious comic, weaving a vast mythology about a superhero named Saviour (modeled after television presenter Jonathan Ross, an early example of Millar’s ruthless savviness in attention-getting decisions) who presents himself as a messiah figure but is in actuality the antichrist. But there is also the same fascination with ugliness—a plotline about a young girl being sexually abused that spends all of its time on her terror and confusion, or a sequence that revels in Desmond Tutu being shot in the head. His other Trident series, Shadowmen, which saw two of a planned six issues published before the company went under, has a similar focus on gruesome violence, the bulk of it against women, lingering over things like an extended sequence of state violence being enacted against two women as an intimidation campaign, ending in one of their murder or a scene in which a female police officer is mind controlled into shooting first her fellow officers then herself by a man who keeps calling her “honey” while forcing her to do it.…