Review by Ian Keogh
Allison or Al Carter, is the latest in a family dynasty who’ve been protecting Earth from the end of the world since time immemorial. Perhaps The End of the World ought to be capitalised, given that it’s the End of the World, and it’s prevented on a regular basis, largely because greedy people who don’t really know what they’re doing acquire objects they don’t really know how to use. That makes Ultimate Darkness, personification of, considerably higher up the danger scale.
At times over the opening chapter it seems as if J. Michael Straczynski is throwing in clever leftover lines from other projects because while it establishes the plot it does so leisurely and glibly, almost drawing attention to the artifice. Artist Sid Kotian certainly likes to draw attention, particularly to Al’s crotch and lady bumps, but then Straczynzki’s script makes no bones about sexualising her. At times it’s if you’ve dropped into a 1970s ITV sitcom with the knowing wink adding an extra layer of sleaze. And then Reg Varney turns up. No, he doesn’t, but techno-expert Ronnie might as well be Robin Askwith in best Confessions Of mode.
When not objectifying our Al, Kotian is an adaptable artist, able to present a form of reality, then follow the plot into areas of horror and SF, imaginative in his renderings of both. He piles in the detail and turns in terrifying versions of familiar comforts.
A feeling of Apocalypse Al being a repository for assorted ideas Straczynski’s been unable to fit in elsewhere never departs because so much of it is below his usual capabilities. We’re treated to Al’s nightmare being the office assistant’s job millions have to endure in reality, Disneyland as Hell, and a man who’s had most of the life sucked out of him working as an insurance agent. These are jokes that were funny in some observational stand-up comedian’s act in 1982 and have slowly died the death ever since. It all serves to diminish the novel ideas that are present, the imps in a Mustang being one.
To recycle one of Straczynski’s jokes, what’s intended to be charm and wit is as soulless as a Bill O’Reilly ‘news’ report.