Review by Karl Verhoven
Gordon Rennie and Mark Harrison begin by envisaging an eccentric world in the near future, one where Europe is at war with the Islamic-Judaic Pact and simultaneously sending troops into the Extra-Dimensional Zone known as the Glimmer to fight monsters. Except those latter troops are the political undesirables mixed with the criminals and maniacs released from prisons. Hold on to that joke about the Islamic-Judaic Pact as its caustic darkness is the single hollow laugh among the horror, war and science fiction stirred into one ungodly mixture.
For what’s basically a shoot ‘em up science fiction story there’s one hell of a lot of exposition to Glimmer Rats as with each new chapter Rennie has to reiterate the desolation and despair of a bunch of misfits slammed together and rapidly learning that every step could be their last. “Time and distance work differently in the Glimmer. Watches don’t work and the landscape changes around you. The best way to judge how far you’ve travelled and how long it took is simply by counting how many of you died along the way”. There’s setting a mood and there’s over-egging a cake, and Rennie’s got plenty more quotes like that. It wouldn’t matter so much if there was any contrast to the relentless misery served up, a brief moment of light to contrast the eternal drudgery, but there isn’t. Instead there’s just episode after episode of macho posturing in the face of an almost invisible enemy whose capabilities are way beyond anything the Glimmer Rats are equipped with.
That leaves Harrison’s contribution to this catalogue of nihilism, and for all the words plastered over his art, it still looks phenomenal, with the caveat being provided you like wall to wall evisceration. Harrison’s job was, in effect, to create the unimaginable, and he’s relished the task with each successive page escalating the terror and the despair. A lot of the art is abstracted alongside Rennie’s captions, wisps of monsters concealed in the smoke and shadow, and the horror aspects work all the better for the constant overlay of brown. Everything is brown. The environment is brown, the equipment is brown, and the soldiers are brown, punctuated only by the red of blood.
Ultimately Rennie’s plot for Glimmer Rats is the equivalent of the first person shooter game. Equipment and experience counts for something, but the game never ends, the threats just escalate. It’s not much of a read, but the art’s stunning in places.