Sunday, 7 December 2014

Caballistics Inc.

Gordon Rennie (writer)
Dom Reardon (art)

During WWII, Q Department was formed within the Ministry of Defence to combat Nazi occult warfare. In the 21st century, however, it has outlived its usefulness and its funding is scrapped. Enter reclusive millionaire rock star Ethan Kostabi, who has bought up its employees and constructed a brand new outfit - Caballistics, Inc.

Going Underground

A 2000ad story that tells of the UKs wartime magical warfare unit, Q Department, finally being dissolved by the British government only to find itself bought by the enigmatic ex-rockstar Ethan Kostabi and reinvented as supernatural investigators for hire Caballistics Inc.

Making up the new team are the two leftovers from Q, Doctor Jonathan Brand and the unfortunate Jenny Simmons, demon hunters Hannah Chapter and Lawrence Verse and the very unpleasant magician Solomon Ravne.  Together they are hired out to combat haunted railways, escaped demons and disembodied occultists.

The world they inhabit is shared with that of Doctor Who and Quatermass and Rennie's other 2000ad series Necronauts (and subsequently, Absalom) and is littered with references to all and more.  I've liked Rennie's writing for years; his work always seems to come from a place of fannish enjoyment but distanced from slavish adherence to canon. So, truthfully, I was expecting this to be good and it didn't disappoint.

The real revelation here though is the art of Dom Reardon.  I'd not seen his stuff before but his atmospheric black and white illustrations are an absolute joy that perfectly capture the feel of the narrative.


In this second volume of Rennie and Reardon's supernatural horror things are going decidedly downhill.  Ravne has been 'killed' by an Israeli hit squad and it takes him a while to get better, a psychotic, ex-SAS, asylum escapee joins the team, Jenny's passenger is here to stay and a very powerful and utterly insane magician previously associated with Q Department is getting bored of his island prison.

The various stories take us around London with a horny / hungry Jenny, drop into the depths of a 1960 horror movie studio and travel up to the Scottish highlands to save royalty from some ancient, axe wielding nature spirits.

As with the first volume this is a joyful romp filled with geeky references that are as irreverent as they are reverential.  I love this series.  It's a change of pace for 2000AD and is all the stronger for it.  It is though an absolute crying shame that they've never collected the series finale for us folks that don't read the weekly.

The novels

There were also two Caballistics Inc. novels ('Hell on Earth' and 'Better the Devil') published by Black Flame back in 2007.  Unfortunately they weren't written by Rennie but by freelance writer Mike Wild who, according to his bio on the Abaddon Books site, has worked on ' Doctor Who, Masters of the Universe, Starblazer, 'Allo 'Allo! and ­ erm ­ My Little Pony'.  I read them just after they appeared and they were OK.

The first deals with a buried angel intent on kick starting Judgement Day whilst the second tells of a magical attack on London that drops the group up to their necks in golems and demons.

They're good solid pulp reads that absolutely hurtle along and Wild has done his absolute best to emulate Rennie's style on the comics but it does come across a bit forced and lacks a little of the love Rennie brought to the world his creations inhabit.

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