Switchblade Honey

 SWIG   (AiT/Planet Lar, 2003)

™ and © AiT/Planet Lar

If Warren Ellis wrote Star Trek, this is undoubtedly how he’d write it: with a boatload of tarnished officers, led by the worst of the bunch — a beer-swilling, cigarette-smoking, self-righteous captain who went to the brig for firing on an admiral’s ship. (But he was right to do it. Just ask him!)

Now that selfsame captain, John Ryder, has been sprung from prison and given command of a vessel for the same reason any Star Trek captain would be given a chance to redeem himself: Earth’s in danger of being overrun by an unstoppable alien force. But here, the Trek similarities quickly dissipate. Instead of trying to find a peaceful solution to the alien conflict, our hero turns guerrilla. The same authorities who imprisoned him now give him a top-of-the-line cruiser and tell him to begin a smash-and-dash campaign of terror-strikes against the aliens. In so doing, he goes from a pristine Starfleet-like environment, in which everyone wears crisp uniforms and serves on ships with names like Excellent and Inevitable to a piratical one, where he captains a ship known as Switchblade Honey.

This one-shot SF noir saga may feel low-budget, thanks to the black-and-white art on so-so paper. But the story itself is high-end all the way. Although Ellis makes it clear in a foreword that this story is meant to take on the Star Trek mythos, you’re almost better off not knowing that. On its own, the story stands up just fine as a down-and-dirty saga of war in space with real people running the ships and fighting the war. The best character? First Officer Susan Nile, who ends up with Ryder’s criminal crew because, on her last ship, she pulled a Lorena Bobbitt on the captain and jettisoned his, uh, equipment into space. Kinda gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “looking out for #1,” huh?

— Stephen C. George

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  7/1/2003
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 Warren EllisBrandon McKinney