Sunday, September 2, 2012

World Without End Review

World Without End
DC Comics
192 pages (6 x 32)
$2.50/ea. (1990-91)

Contributors: Jamie Delano, John Higgins, and Richard Starkings

Publication: World Without End #1-6 (of 6)

Synopsis: In a strange land made entirely of hostflesh, the Gess have ruled for millennia.  The Brotherhood of Stern Resolve oversees a group of five guild houses which make up a sterile male society.  Women are called Skittons and held as cattle for ritual purposes, but all Gess and Skittons are unable to procreate.  Instead the Eugenics Guild uses technology to breed additional labor as needed.  The Brotherhood has the power to control the hostflesh through chemical and hormonal means, and they were the ones who created the capital city of Bedlam.

On the outskirts of the civilized world a growing unease and anticipation arises in the hostflesh.  A being called Rumour has appeared with the power to create life from the Host and represents the resurgence of the threat of 'female' to the Gess.  Now the Brotherhood recreates their misogynist champion, Brother Bones, to purge the female presence which threatens to topple their society.
Brother Bones scouts for Rumour with some Wingmen
Brutal, unrelenting, and completely unforgiving - Brother Bones becomes the Brotherhood's worst nightmare as he seizes leadership of the Gess and wages a pyrrhic war to claim Rumour's life.  Will her monsters overwhelm Brother Bones' minions and does the Host prefer a woman's touch?

Pros: Higgins' covers are striking, Delano writes a unique tale, battle of the sexes amplified to the nth degree, some nudity, mature story, ending was a bit unexpected/good

Cons: Higgins' interior art is less detailed/good as the covers, Brother Bones' speech is horribly difficult to read (Delano provides a translation guide at the end of issue #2) as Delano uses a mimetic alphabet to emphasize his archaic speech patterns - the guy talks a lot and this gets really annoying, I expected a superhero book based on the cover to issue #1 and this was not a superhero book
Brother Bones leads his army to the Scarlots fortress
Mike Tells It Straight: Jamie Delano is a great writer and this book is a unique vision containing an immersive, strange world.  It's pure science fiction and an interesting take on the battle of the sexes after a millennia of evolution.  The idea of an organic Host which has grown across the world is pretty weird and makes a neat backdrop.  I liked the concept (it's something different), but the finished product was somewhat lacking.

Higgins art was hit and miss - his covers (which he obviously spent more time on) were great, but the interiors were far less polished and felt rushed.  Delano's scripting of Brother Bones and Rumour (particularly Brother Bones mimetic speech pattern) were heavily distracting and slowed down the story unnecessarily.  If it was Delano's intent to slow the pace of the story and emphasize Brother Bones' distinct programming - it worked wonders for making me want to stop reading.  It took a heap of willpower to avoid skipping past the copious rantings of Brother Bones whenever the story refocused on him.
Rumour - this is a sweet cover by Higgins

I thought World Without End was a superhero book at first glance (the cover to issue #1 looks a bit like Batman fighting some tentacled monster) and quickly realized it was something else entirely.  Definitely a clever marketing trick during a time ruled by superheroes.  Delano wrote it between his run on Hellblazer and Animal Man.  This mini-series probably won't get a collected edition since it's become a bit obscure.  The covers make it look tremendously enticing, but I would keep it far down on the pull list despite the originality of Delano's Host concept.  Save yourself the torture of Brother Bones' lengthy and annoying speeches - unless you're into that sort of thing.

TO BUY and Recommendations: