Simon Fraser. There’s a man never likely to see his due in comics. After posting a decades worth of increasingly sublime work on the beloved in-house, ignored elsewhere magnificence of Nikolai Dante (2000ad) he’s a master in search of a subject. Dark Horses’ soon-to-be-copied-by-Image series Grindhouse gives him two issues of what he honed best on Dante, violence and angry women.
Prison Ship concerns a lone vessel sent to colonise a far planet filled only with the worst females from (presumably American) penitentiaries. This Golgafrinchian Ark D-Wing leaves regular earth contact to reveal a sadist female warden (identical to Dante’s sadistic sister Lulu) and a army of drones. Presumably the planet was going to be colonised with an industrial sized vat of man goo to pass between our lesbian criminal fraternity. Or those drones have a hidden pop up feature. De Campi’s story is, of course, a deliberate mix of cliche and non-logic designed to drag up those caged-female exploitation tropes as quickly as possible. However at two-issues and done the tale never moves beyond popcorn-story arcs of un-engaging characters. With only one of the prisoners stories being fleshed out and one couples love being used to move the story forward there is no investment in anyone or interest in their fate. It’s no surprise the way the story plays out, right down to the aliens-in-escape-pod revenge; but then it’s probably never meant to be. It’s pulp for people that download movie packs called ‘incredible strange movies 1958-1972’. If that’s a market for Dark Horse, cool.
Fraser’s art is the high point, he excels in drawing those moments of violence when limbs extend to their limits, curve just slightly beyond what seems probable but reflects the mailability of real bodies. The setting robs him of his talent for displaying vast architecture and wide vistas, as well as removing the emotional impact of the violence he excels at conveying but for those who enjoy dynamic fight art devoid of invented-steroid-shaped muscles Fraser is a master. Prison Ship acts as good PR for his work on Dante and the free webcomic Lilly Mackenzie, beyond that someone needs to get him some regular work, he’s too good to be irregularly published.