Chopper: Wandering Spirit – Go Into The Dreamtime With Brendan McCarthy

by Richard Bruton

As a general rule, the comics world just doesn’t have enough Brendan McCarthy. Which is something 2000 AD are doing their best to correct with the release of Chopper: Wandering Spirit.

Even better, Wandering Spirit is merely the A-side of this McCarthy experience, on the B-side you get a truly weird trio of McCarthy Dredds!

So, you get 50-ish pages of the recent Chopper: Wandering Spirit story by David Baillie and McCarthy, but then you get to see McCarthy putting Dredd through a trio of bizarre adventures with rather familiar Doctors, Zombie infections, and 50s hot rod inspired action.

McCarthy’s artwork has been something I’ve loved since first seeing it, maybe on 2000 AD covers, but it wasn’t long before I caught on to his work in Strange Days and Paradax, and was hooked from then.

Since then, it’s always been a joy to see the artists’ imagination run riot, in glorious technicolour, across his pages. And yes, it might be a cliche, but McCarthy’s work screams psychedelic as well. And when you’re dealing with a tale full of Aboriginal Dreamtime, it really is a match made in heaven, even down to the page borders.

CHOPPER: WANDERING SPIRIT: Script by David Baillie, art by Brendan McCarthy, additional colors by Len O’Grady, letters by Ellie De Ville

Chopper: Wandering Spirit is the triumphant return of the iconic skysurfer from Mega-City, Marlon Shakepeare, now relocated to the Oz Radback and trying to keep a low profile in his retirement.

But, as is the way, trouble always seems to follow Chopper wherever he goes. Which is useful, as an entire storyline of Chopper just lounging around and doing the odd bit of recreational surfing wouldn’t really set the world on fire. Although, as long as McCarthy was doing the art, it would look bloody lovely.

So, everything kicks off here when mutants kidnap Chopper’s mate Wally. Which means we’re off on another skysurf adventure, in pure McCarthy wonder, taking in the Oz Judges, rogue nanotech Turing clouds, and plenty of incredible Dreamtime imagery…

Sit back, relax, and feast your eyes on the delights of Brendan McCarthy’s artwork on Wandering Spirit…

As for the rest of the book, well, it’s McCarthy all the way, with a trio of Dredd strips.

JUDGE DREDD: DOCTOR WHAT – script by Al Ewing, art by Brendan McCarthy, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Doctor What? – where the protagonist, Doctor Troughton Watt, has absolutely nothing at all to do with a certain police box travelling Timelord, oh not at all..

JUDGE DREDD: THE WALKING DREDD – script by Rob Williams, art and concept by Brendan McCarthy, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Page one, Dredd gets bitten by a zombie and has to make it back from the Cursed Earth before it’s too late. Simple really, but so much fun.

JUDGE DREDD: HOVERODS – script by TC Eglington, story and art by Brendan McCarthy, additional colors by Dom Regan, letters by Annie Parkhouse

If the previous two Dredds were all deliciously weird concepts, this one could be considered more of a traditional Dredd tale. But then again, it could just be that McCarthy came up with the desire to write and draw a comic with massive, flying, souped-up, flame-injected, multi-coloured 50s styled hot-rod Hover-cars. That sounds more like it, to be honest.

Chopper: Wandering Spirit comes out from Rebellion on 12 June. Art throughout is from the brilliance of Brendan McCarthy, aided and abetted by David Baillie, Al Ewing, Rob Williams, and TC Eglington.

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