Peter Cannon Thunderbolt #4 Brings In Some Very Familiar Faces

by Oliver MacNamee

Peter Cannon Thunderbolt #4 came out last week from Kieron Gillen and Caspar Wijngaard and it was another masterclass in meta-textuality that really divided the hardcore readers from the rest, as Peter Cannon found himself in a dimension not too far removed in style from the semi-autobiographical black and white indie comics of Eddie Campbell back in the late 80’s; a similar time to when Watchmen first came into being. And a time of great experimentation in the comic book industry as the last hurrah of the 80’s independent publishers ahead of the 90’s implosion.

On this world, there were no superheroes, but there are many a familiar face in the Northampton pub (called The Clock, geddit?) Peter visits with this Earth’s Pete. Nothing happens without a reason in any fictional narrative, and so it should be no surprise to longterm comic book readers that Northampton is the hometown of Alan Moore, who I’m sure makes an appearance as the character introduced as Doctor K, a man who believes the uncanny story of dimension hopping and alien invasion that our Peter Cannon regards as the reason he’s on this mundane, real world Earth.

Wijngaard’s masterful mimicry of Campbell’s scratchy sketchy art style is an absolutely essential part of this issue’s success and it’s been a great experience having seen this still-fresh comic book talent evolve and take up some banging drawing gigs in recent years. I’d certainly recommend picking up his and Dan Watter’s Image comic book Limbo for more! The style almost makes you forget that that 9 panel grid formalism that has been explored and shaken up across this whole series, is still intact and still an internal part of this book’s structure, narratively and technically.

Meanwhile, even for any reader unversed in the works of Eddie Campbell – a collaborator of Alan Moore’s on the seminal Jack The Ripper treatise From Hell – there are those familiar faces I mentioned above. You have local comedian Eddie; a hot-headed type who has a problem with the whole concept of superheroes, as well as barmaid Lauren. These names should immediately have the reader realising that what we have here is the Watchmen, but in a dimension more akin to our own. Will these ‘heroes’ come together and save the day, as they failed to do in Watchmen? With one issue left, who knows? But, I’ll certainly make sure that I pick up the final issue of this fascinating philosophical series.

It’s a book turning out to be a far more satisfactory sequel to the original than DC’s own Doomsday Clock. Just don’t tell the Distinguished Competition, right? As well as a book challenging what we know of Watchmen and what we come to expect from our comics.

Peter Cannon Thunderbolt #4 is out now from Dynamite.

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