How about a sci-fi noir in a future influenced by aliens and their experimentation where the language comes peppered with classic 40’s noir? Well buster, doll, Sentileer, it’s Sentinel #10 Newtopia, HUZZAH!
Can you believe it? Almost two months ago to the day Sentileers rejoiced when Sentinel #9 - 77 entered its final week of the Kickstarter funded 80-page horror, trilogy story packed slice of smashing entertainment. Sentinel is a series we love at CBNUK for its constant ever-evolving genre-shifting storytelling and smorgasbord of classic and blossoming artists. It’s one of the select few British anthology comics that's carving its own path in the revitalisation of the format in the indie scene. Sentinel also set itself apart from competitors, and even its own format in fact, by having complete stories every issue. With this in mind, it gives us great joy and pleasure to find ourselves in receipt of an advance copy of Sentinel issue 10 Newtopia which sees the great Seto Thargo Alan, the genre chameleon, Holloway on fine form in a sci-fi heavy, noir trope checklist peppered surprise shock ending beaut.
So, let’s start with the art. Sentileers or fans of off-shoot kids comic Crackpot will remember this artist from Tammy's Troubles and Trixstar while indie comic book fans will be enamoured with the creator of Being A Girl, England Made Me and Modern Life Is Rubbish. The Northern herald and DJ talent is of course Dave Metcalfe-Carr the artist with a delightfully definitive style. For Newtopia, Daves art has the more familiar indie style fans have enjoyed, it’s art of bold ink indie stylings with a straight edge outlaw hue. A hue that leaks into outlaw in the latter stages of the comic and when required to add grit to the narrative. It's a hue I perversely enjoy.
The black and white presentation has really strong elements with rain depiction dishing out ideal noir leanings and some striking composition panels like page 30’s close up of Nick. My favourite work here though would be in Dave's character designs. Nick and Connie convey great emotions and style while the Lemmy in a flat cap Esq Sean is a strong design. The real standout comes from the patrons of Freaks club and indeed owner Freak themselves. There's some really alluring characters presented in those backgrounds. Nick and Connie are strongly curated characters for sure, but the inhabitants of Newtopia look rich in back story to distracting levels. The strength of those background characters actually makes Newtopia a place well worth revisiting especially when combined with the world-building the story structure frames it within. Daves artwork features so much fun in the details with the backgrounds holding as much storytelling power as the characters with lots of easter eggs worth searching through.
Daves lettering works admirably on all points so deserves a mention for rounding off an entertaining experience. As a final note, the alien on page 23 seems to have a familiar presence that I just can’t put my finger on, if this is a consequence of so many re-reads and strong design or if the swamp thing element is resonating I can’t be sure but I’d love to know the inspiration or anybody else’s thoughts.
Eyeballs pleasantly tickled then it’s time to draw our attention to the genre-bending profficianado of prolific ponderings, Alan Holloway, returning to regale once again. With Newtopia, Alan brings things back to the sci-fi but this time it's a bit of a double genre affair. The setting is distinctly sci-fi with a bustling future city of 2059, Newtopia is a menacing landscape. A future of great technology gifted from alien visitors. Most of the aliens left but some found an alluring new life among the criminal underworld. Experimentation with humans has led to desired abilities which the aliens have utilized to establish themselves amongst new criminal brethren and ultimately flourish in their new power broker roles. To this backdrop, we meet big dreamer Nick and partner Connie. Nick has big plans to get him and his girl out of this life but Newtopia is a city whose grasp is hard to escape.
Alan delivers an expectantly entertaining noir romp full of trademark Holloway genre utilizing strides. The high sci-fi future world is occupied by lead character language straight from 40’s detective noir in a mash-up you never knew you wanted but delivers all the same. The action comes fast like a car through a window while the 64-page format leaves ample room for world-building. The plot is delectable in its unfolding, utilizing its sci-fi overtones and building to an outrageous unexpected ending. Alan shows once again the scope of his abilities to weave, craft and wield another new nugget of comic book entertainment.
For Sentileers and fans of sci-fi, noir, rain, friendly alien invasions, back alley human experimentation, shootouts, criminal couples, freaky clubs with freaky owners (of the best kind), dyed fringe protagonists, flying cars and old school safe cracking in a future school way you should get yourself to SENTINEL COMIC ISSUE 10 - NEWTOPIA by alan holloway — Kickstarter and back this belter. For all things Sentinel, you can also follow them on Twitter @uk_comic and for more from Dave I’d highly recommend Dave Metcalfe-Carr (@MetcalfeCarr) / Twitter.