Written by Jim Alexander
Art by David Hill
Letters by Nate Pride
Production by Jim Campbell
Cover by David Hill
Mature Content – from Planet Jimbot
“A world where God and the Devil – angels and demons – are real. Presently a demon wreaks terrible and sickening havoc through the streets and tenements of Glasgow. But for Stewart Gabriel this isn’t the highest priority. He has personal demons of his own to contend with.
Gabriel is a story set in an alternative Scotland…”
The Story: This is a book that extrapolates heavily on the ideas of an alternative Universe but this time one set in the city of Glasgow. The Christian Church has resurrected the power that they wielded at the time of the Crusades and has a religious Dredd style police force to reinforce their doctrine.
“Hose down the halls with Holy water.”
A man who is having trouble with finding his place in life, divorced and lost he is thrown into the machinations and mysticism of this Church controlled State. Add to the mix some, power mad Bishops, some (very) crazy people, a werewolf and (in the second story) Jesus Christ walking the streets of Scotland in a Stone Roses t-shirt – and you’ll get an idea of the feel of this very different book.
The Review: Cards fully on the table. I read this book from the point of view of a half Scottish, ex-Catholic boarding school boy turned atheist. It is absolutely full to the rafters with Catholic irony. It uses the setting of a science fiction/future world to lay bare the failings of religion. It shows a society run by old men whose self serving system of morality and punishment rails over a beaten down population.
“Are you the antichrist? What kind of question is that?”
This particular Christian sect is built into a 1984 style story – but with added werewolves and mystical portents. The second, and shorter story in the volume features the arrival of Christ. Opening on him washing the feet of a Glasweigen prostitute (or ‘Hoor’ in common vernacular) it also features him clashing with market stall holders in the market, being arrested and discussing theology with a priest who visits him. This commentary had me laughing out loud at it’s on the nose Biblical sarcasm.
The story is jumbled in an obliquely illogical yet pleasing structure. It seems chaotic and confusing at moments, yet builds its fantasy environment steadily in the reader’s mind. It is moodily vicious and laid out like a religious V for Vendetta. The story comes to a halt and we are then given the gift of the shorter ‘Jesus’ story almost allowing you do wipe the blood and drool off your tired knuckles.
The art by David Hall has real touches of flair in the black and white interiors. He uses shadow well and whilst not yet in the shoes artistically of David Lloyd, for example, he is certainly on the same ladder of style. He and the writer Jim Alexander make great use of splash pages and build the world of alternative Glasgow so well it (almost) makes me want to visit the city again.
Watch out for all the little easter eggs in the story. A particular favourite of mine was ‘Aleister Harvey Solicitors’. This book is well worth a look. You don’t really have to be an ex Catholic but it sure helps.
Many thanks for reading.
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.