Shadow Riders #3 Cover SNIP

Who Remembers Marvel UK’s Shadow Riders? An unpublished story revealed

A promotional ad for Shadow Riders. Via the Starlogged web site
A promotional ad for Shadow Riders. Via the Starlogged web site

Back in the early 1990s, just before Marvel UK went a bit crazy with multiple US titles with the word “Death” in them, artist and writer Brian Williamson and I co-created Shadow Riders, who eventually were drawn by Ross Dearsley for a four issue US format limited series published in 1993.

The story centred on a group of individuals (including former Warhead, Boot), all killed in violent skirmishes or accidents who were reanimated and given super powers by the alien techno-wizard Vorin, to help him in his war against the evil Mys-Tech Corporation.

One of many teams that resist the evil of Mys-Tech. they ally themselves with the mercenary Cable to rescue a tortured mutant named Matthew Ryan from the company. However, Ryan has secrets of his own that will come to threaten them….

Shadow Riders #1
Only the writer of this piece and co-writer Brian Williamson really remember Shadow Riders, but we’re darned if they’ll be forgotten!

The series guest-starred a number of other Marvel UK characters (including the Warheads), as well as US Marvel characters such as Cable and Ghost Rider, even featuring a brief cameo from the Hulk.

While the adventures of Vorin, Roadie, Grunt, Stranger, Boot and Che and their non-human sidekick Goodfellow launched well with 142,000 sales on the first issue, the born-again bikers haven’t been seen since.

What Marvel UK may not know is that the Shadow Riders team was cooked up in part with the aim of giving Marvel UK’s Overkill a, er, Boot, with characters more in line with rival 2000AD.

Toward the end of my time at Marvel UK, as the titles then editor I planned out several issues of Overkill that would have seen the introduction of more UK-skewed characters.

The new strips were to have been prefaced with short “introductions” – two page strips at most, utilising Overkill‘s very limited origination budget beyond the reprinting of the US format books such as Warheads and Dark Angel.

Alan Cowsill, who took over the title after I left MUK in early 1993, decided on a different approach, as editors are well within their right to do. So the Shadow Riders never made it into Overkill.

For posterity, then, here’s the two-page script I wrote, actually set after the mini series… which will only make sense to a few die hard fans of the series. I think I wrote more of these, but only this script seems to have survived various computer purges.

You may think the script excessively “wordy”, and it would have been standard to cut the copy on sight of artwork. The character introduction boxes would probably have been typeset, like mini “data cards”, at a smaller point size than the balloon lettering.

Enjoy! Or, better yet, break out your pens and start drawing…

See also…

Marvel UK: Things That Might Have Been

• “Genesis ’92”: Looking Back and What Might Have Been (Separate Article)

• If you’re looking for information on Marvel UK history and unpublished comics by the company, then you need to check out the brilliant “Starlogged” blog, which documents so much of it

• Brian Williamson’s Official web site is at brianwilliamson.co.uk

You can find Ross Dearsley here on ArtStation

Early Shadow Riders promotional art by Brian Williamson. Brian was keen to draw the series as well as co-write it, but Paul Neary opted to use Ross Dearsley
Early Shadow Riders promotional art by Brian Williamson. Brian was keen to draw the series as well as co-write it, but Paul Neary opted to use Ross Dearsley

THE SHADOW RIDERS

TWO PAGE ORIGIN STORY

Frame One

Establishing shot of the four SHADOW RIDERS blazing into action against a group of WARHEADS on their customised bikes (note — the bikes are constructed from a fluid metal that can be augmented to create additional weaponry or disguise the bikes as ordinary Nortons and Harley Davisons) All guns firing with the dissipating TRANSIT beam behind them as a background effect, signalling their sudden arrival.

Boot takes the lead, a manic grin on his face as the team plough into a group of Warheads at a wormhole location site. NB THESE ARE NOT THE WARHEADS FROM WARHEADS COMIC. One of the Warheads is clutching a weird-looking alien artefact which is in clear sight.

BOOT has changed one of his cybernetic arms to fit a nasty looking weapon, which blazes away at some very expensive-looking equipment.

GRUNT – huge guy, very strong is also firing.

ROADIE the girl is generating a psi-field which protects the team from laser attack, the beams bouncing uselessly off its field. She looks very determined, concentrating on the job in hand but also firing at the Shadow Riders assailants with a hand pistol.

STRANGER is at the rear, seeming to start to vanish even as the team arrives.

This is a really dynamic, full of action first panel.

LOGO: SHADOW RUN!

BX: MyS-TECH – – A WORLD-SPANNING EVIL CADRE – – HAVE ALWAYS FOUGHT DIRTY. AND IN A DIRTY WAR, EVEN THE GOOD GUYS TURN NASTY…

BOOT: UP AND AT ‘EM, MY BROTHERS! WE RIDE ZE WIND!

ROADIE: BOOT – – SPARE US THE ZORRO ROUTINE, HUH? IT’S WEARING A LITTLE THIN… AND I HAVE TO CONCENTRATE TO KEEP US FROM GETTING FRIED!

GRUNT: ROADIE’S RIGHT – – LET’S GRAB THAT ARTEFACT FROM THESE WARHEAD CREEPS FAST AND MAKE FOR HOME!

Frame Two

Boot leaps off his bike, bopping the nearest Warhead.

BX: THE SHADOW RIDERS GET BETTER AT PLAYING DIRTY EVERY DAY!

BOOT: YOU’VE GOT SOMETHING WE WANT, SCUM… AND WE’RE NOT IN THE MOOD TO ASK POLITELY!

BX: BOOT, TEAM LEADER – – CYBERNETICALLY ENHANCED, AN EX-WARHEAD. HE DIED TO BECOME A SHADOW RIDER… AS DID ALL HIS MAVERICK TEAM…

Frame Three

Roadie generating psi field, Warhead blasted back from it as s/he tries to attack the girl. Stranger also in shot, going intangible as he approaches the Warhead with the artefact

BX: ROADIE – – PSI CASTER. SHE JOINED THE TEAM JUST AFTER HER EIGHTEENTH UN-BIRTHDAY…

FX; ZZZZACK!

WARHEAD: YEAAARGH!

ROADIE: YOU’LL HAVE TO MOVE FASTER THAN THAT TO BREAK MY PSI-SHIELDS, PUNK!

ROADIE2 (linked): STRANGER – – DO YOUR STUFF!

STRANGER: ON MY WAY, BABE…

Frame Four

Stranger passes like a ghost toward the Warhead who is blasting away at him, heading for the wormhole location and an odd-looking instrument, clearly of alien origin.

BX: STRANGER – – A DEAD ROCK STAR TURNED AGENT OF VENGEANCE… HIS FAZING POWERS CAN TURN HIM INTO A LIVING GHOST…

STRANGER: MY – – YOU WARHEADS DO BRING SOME PRETTY TOYS BACK FROM OTHER DIMENSIONS FROM YOUR MyS-TECH PAYMASTERS, DONCHA?

Page Two

Frame One

Grunt banging two heads together in foreground, looking at Stranger who has picked up the well-weird alien device.

BX: AND FINALLY, GRUNT – – ANOTHER EX-MyS-TECH EMPLOYEE, FRIED ALIVE BUT FIT AND KICKING ONCE MORE…

GRUNT: STRANGER – – MOVE IT! WE HAVE TEN SECONDS TO GET OUT OF HERE!

STRANGER: HEY, DON’T WORRY! I’M ON THE CASE!

Frame Two

The four Shadow Riders are suddenly enveloped in the black TRANSIT FX, disappearing from sight, to the surprise of the one dazed Warhead still standing after this lightning raid.

BOOT: TAXI!

BOOT2: TA ,TA BOYS – – I’D SAY IT’S BEEN FUN… BUT YOU GUYS HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOUR!

BX; THE SHADOW RIDERS UNIQUE TRANSIT TELEPORT BEAM SPIRITS THE TEAM AWAY IN MOMENTS…

FX; KXXXXXZZZZCKMMMM!

DAZED WARHEAD: WH- – WHUT TH- –

BX2: – – LEAVING BEHIND SOME VERY CONFUSED MyS-TECH EMPLOYEES!

Frame Three

Establishing shot of the SHADOW RIDERS Transit Arrival Bay (see SHADOW RIDER #1 Strip Page 12 for reference (starts with “I love it coming in half way through a movie”) VORIN and GOODFELLOW are waiting for them. A crackle of majickal energy emanates from one of Vorin’s hands, the complex TRANSIT spell still in operation.

BX: SHADOW RIDERS BASE, LANCASHIRE, NORTHERN ENGLAND…

BX2: AND THE ONE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING THE SHADOW RIDERS — FOR LITERALLY BRINGING THEM BACK TO LIFE AT THE POINT OF DEATH WITH HIS INCREDIBLE MAJICKS – – RECEIVES HIS CHAMPIONS…

BOOT: HEY, VORIN! NICE OF YOU TO MEET US…

STRANGER: YOWZA! THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME…

VORIN: DID YOU GET IT? DO YOU HAVE THE DEVICE?

Frame Four

Impressive shot of Vorin in his garb, eyes blazing, his hands still crackling with energy as he holds the mysterious alien artefact. Goodfellow at his side, sticking his clawed finger in his ear. Boot also in shot.

BX: THE HI-TECH WIZARD, VORIN… AN ALIEN ONCE CAUGHT IN A TERRIBLE TIME PARADOX THAT SAW THE DESTRUCTION OF HIS PLANET AT MyS-TECHs HANDS…

BX2: ALONG WITH HIS FAMILIAR, THE MYSTERIOUS GOODFELLOW, HE HAS WAGED A SIX HUNDRED YEAR WAR OF ATTRITION WITH THE EVIL IMMORTALS IN MEPHISTO’S EMPLOY!

BOOT: SO — IS IT WHAT YOU THOUGH IT WAS?

Frame Five

Vorin examining the strange device, the Shadow Riders grouped around him.

VORIN: YES – – THIS IS FURTHER PROOF THAT, THOUGH I DO NOT KNOW WHERE, MY PEOPLE STILL LIVE, DESPITE MyS-TECH’S ATTEMPT TO DESTROY US ALL…

VORIN: – – AND THAT HOPE DRIVES ME ON… TO CONTINUE THE WAR WITH THOSE EVIL IMMORTALS…

VORIN3: A WAR, ONE DAY, THAT WE WILL WIN…

Shadow Riders copyright Marvel

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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