Storming Heaven

Storming Heaven
Storming Heaven graphic Novel review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: 2000AD - 1-90543-707-2
  • Release date: 2007
  • UPC: 9781905437078
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

The subtitle of The Frazer Irving Collection is as relevant as the main title, as ‘Storming Heaven’ is just one of several stories illustrated by Irving (and also found in The Best of 2000AD Volume 3).

Chronological presentation is the order of the day for the longer strips, and John Smith’s thoroughly unpleasant vampire shocker ‘A Love Like Blood’ is up first. It’s surprising to see how fullsome the art is when placed against the pared back look more associated with Irving. It’s Romeo and Juliet set during a war among vampires and werewolves with humanity in the way, which sounds great, but isn’t, which is down to over-writing and a persistent wallow in sordid violence. It’s most notable for Irving’s monster designs.

The title story riffs on the idea of superheroes being created during the hippie era via use of mind-expanding substances – Homo Psychedelis as Gordon Rennie has it. 1960s references are supplied in abundance in setting up the conflict between the enlightened Mr Trips and the malevolent Lizard King, as Rennie applies a cynical hindsight veneer to hippie idealism. The captions make it read as if a documentary told at a rapid pace, but it lacks a connection point, with the intended sympathetic view too distanced from main events. Irving shines again, though, called on to vary his work considerably, and he’d been looking at Sergio Toppi for the final spread.

Si Spurrier writes the third extended outing ‘From Grace’, and Irving’s art is moving to its more familiar style. It’s a little rough around the edges, especially some faces, but is beginning to develop the sparse quality and impactful use of space. Spurrier also opts for storytelling largely via captions as Kaith’s life is reflected upon in a brutal fantasy society. As per the sample page, Spurrier effectively hints at what’s not explicitly said, and the tone indicates this isn’t going to have a happy ending, but there’s something haunting here.

Filling the final fifty or so pages are what were in effect Irving’s 2000AD tryouts, sting in the tail ‘Future Shocks’. Again, the wonder of the art is how far removed it is from Irving’s signature style. For the black and white material illustrating Steve Moore’s contributions he uses very traditional British comics storytelling, everything clear and transparent. It’s good for what it is, but surprising from Irving. Rennie’s shorts are amusingly presented as if instructional warnings about poor habits, proving no good comes from indulgence.

Here is probably not the place you’d expect a small adjunct to Shaun of the Dead, but Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright duly provide it with ‘There’s Something About Mary’, a bittersweet reflection. Less successful is the poster insert originally provided with the DVD release, a sort of prelude to the film seemingly rapidly drawn.

As a collection not everything here succeeds, but there’s some great art from a developing Irving and some interesting moments.