Review by Ian Keogh
The Volgan War had long been part of ABC Warriors folklore, a planetary wide battle set on Earth in the late 21st century and fought largely by robots under human control, as far as the West was concerned, anyway. The Volgan leader had been killed early, replaced by mad and sadistic robot Volkhan. The conclusion to Volume One revealed he still lived centuries later, incarcerated, and believed disabled and helpless in an asylum for malfunctioning robots on Mars. Pat Mills toys with the readers via an opening line of dialogue claiming all the security is unnecessary as Volkhan isn’t ever going to escape. Oh no?
We’ve already been treated to Volgan War incidents involving Hammerstein, Mongrol and Joe Pineapples, with Blackblood among the Volgan forces, and a new robot named Zippo who they all met. Mills concentrates on Blackblood for the opening portion here, shown in the past as his cruel self before reprogramming, and those recollections have a particular poignancy for another of the team. During the Blackblood section Mills drops in a joke or two during a series where they’re largely sidelined, and when Deadlock’s turn to reminisce arrives he’s back to the dignified and quasi-mystical warrior of his past.
As previously, the memories of the Volgan War past occur as the ABC Warriors are en route to locate Zippo, considered the ideal new member now Mek Quake has been sectioned, but Zippo has problems of his own. These, however, aren’t investigated until volume three. Mills has a very distinct way with dialogue, bullet bursts of evocative wordplay rather than what people might actually say, but it’s a style that accentuates the tone of an all-robot strip, distancing them slightly as imitations of humanity, no matter how well crafted and programmed.
Once again Clint Langley interprets Mills’ script superbly, creating stunning scenes of robot warfare and amazing looking cityscapes. To say any of it looks attractive is perhaps not accurate, but everything impresses greatly as well conceived and stylish, even if it’s showing grubby locations, so it’s another artistic tour de force.
There is a big overall plan to the four volume Volgan War arc, but this isn’t as successful as the opener as there aren’t as many switches between past and present, so when they do occur they seem more forced, and the present day plot doesn’t progress much. This isn’t as apparent when reading this and the starting volume combined as Mek Files 04. More war memoirs follow in The Volgan War 03.