Continuing on from the previous post is our look at Freakwave, the post-apocalyptic surf-scavenger epic by Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy. After concluding the first Freakwave story for Pacific Comics, the next episode of the saga would go on to appear in Eclipse Comics' Strange Days.
It's never really been mentioned as to why Milligan and McCarthy switched publishers, but this time around it appears they had full control of their work creatively, as the Strange Days issues featured stories exclusively by Milligan/McCarthy. The three main stories in Strange Days were Freakwave, Johnny Nemo (written by Milligan with art by Brett Ewins) and Paradax (Milligan/McCarthy).
The series kicked off with a literal "bang" with this image by McCarthy, which was there to warn readers that the content within Strange Days was intended to be viewed in a certain light - deeper meanings would lie underneath the surface of the stories.
The floating heads take center stage this time around, as the Drifter tries to make sense of all he had been through previously with the demented crew of the Red Herring. There is Captain Learning of the three-eyed J.F.K. head, who is the ringmaster of a band of circus-freaks with a bounty on a mutant who is a descendant of Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and James Joyce.
That mutant is Captain Cracking of the Mad Hatter head, which is manned by his powder-puff entourage of lunatics. A third head, the Zombie Football, is manned by none other than Captain Roaring, who is planning a new attack to take over the head of three-eyed J.F.K. It only gets crazier from there, as the Drifter winds up on a derelict church perched on a World War II submarine, manned by the strange and mysterious Ol' Man Drivel.
And thus Freakwave part 2 begins...you can enlarge the images in a new window for a better reading experience. Enjoy!
The ending of this story comes abruptly, as it appears to end with this cliffhanger of Captain Roaring taking out the Mad Hatter and unleashing the Fallen Caps. My guess is that McCarthy was told the series was being cancelled mid-stride, and did not have time to finish the story properly. It appears that way as the last two pages of Freakwave features some very unusual artwork to tie up the story.
The Freakwave saga ends with the Drifter dying and becoming the new Messiah, with the hopes that he can defeat the maniacal tirades of Captain Roaring. It's a shame the series had to come to an end, but McCarthy suggested in interviews that Strange Days just didn't take off as intended, which is bewildering. Maybe the publishers are to blame, but in any case what we end up with is a Cult Classic comic for the ages. Maybe one day we will see a collected Freakwave Hardcover, reprinted with new and original artwork. Now that would be a treat.
Milligan and McCarthy both have gone on to bigger and better things. Both continued to work together on stuff like Vertigo's updated version of Ditko's Shade The Changing Man among many, many others. Catch up on the amazing artwork of Brendan McCarthy by checking out his website here: http://www.brendanmccarthy.co.uk/