Rick Veitch

Teknophage (1995) #1-6

Neil Gaiman s Teknophage  6Let’s see how long it takes me to describe Teknophage. Our reality is just one of an infinite (I think) number of realities, a multiverse woven together through the will of one single creature—the Teknophage, or Mister Henry Phage. He’s a giant dinosaur. On his planet, through mutation, he became hyper-intelligent and then discovered how to access the quantum realm and create a multiverse (or so Phage says during an interview). Sixty-five million years later, Earth is experiencing its 20th century and Phage is kidnapping humans to work in his giant mobile skyscraper hell building as it roams the planet Kalighoul. I think it can jump through the dimensions and go anywhere, they just happen to be hanging out on planet Kalinghoul.

Phage’s empire runs as a commercial enterprise, where his vice presidents scramble up the corporate ladder, hoping to someday be worthing of becoming… Phage’s dinner. Phage doesn’t eat very often because he’s got this special nap he takes as he digests his subordinates and seems to absorb them in some way. It’s unclear. Phage doesn’t like doctors so it’s entirely possible he’s never been fully diagnosed. Sometimes when Phage doesn’t like things he zaps them with his heat vision. By things I mean his “employees”—it’s unclear if middle management makes any actual money. They clearly live better than the many enslaved people who man the proverbial oars, but the upper management at least seems to enjoy their position having reached it. Though we don’t see what they do for leisure. Probably something awful.

The “hero” of the story is real estate developer Rob, who’s out at a farm he’s swindled from an old lady when he gets zapped to planet Kalinghoul. We’ve already seen Kalinghoul, with writer Rick Veitch and artist Bryan Talbot introducing it in the framing device, with this Oldish English narration cryptically describing the situation with Phage and so on.

It’s like “Monty Python” and, I don’t know, Dickens or something. I’m not English enough to know the specifics. Teknophage is extremely British; it’s about some dystopian steampunk revolt against a giant dinosaur ruler; it’s like a 2000 AD story but unqualified in its success. Talbot and Teknophage creator Neil Gaiman are English, Veitch is not. Neither’s Rob. In fact, Rob being an American figures into his behavior.

See, once Rob gets to planet Kalinghoul, he tries bartering his Earthly possessions for local money and gets ripped off. He also gets married to the woman ripping him off, which is sort of just desserts because it turns out she’s the alien abducted daughter of the old lady whose farm he just swindled. Her name is Clarissa and she’s a revolutionary in addition to being a con artist. She runs with Boog, a rough old British guy trope, who’s her surrogate father. When Clarissa goes on mission, Rob decides he’s got to save her—he’s suffering intense guilt over swindling her mom–even if it screws up her mission, which involves getting taken in for conversion, where they boil down your soul and turn you into a robot.

The writing on all the fantastical steampunk stuff is great. When the comic gets to an expository section, it’s a delight thanks to Veitch’s enthusiastic prose. It’s always entertaining.

Will Boog get Rob to realize being a capitalist maybe isn’t the greatest idea on Kalinghoul (or anywhere else)? Can Clarissa survive her undercover assignment as Phage’s new secretary (tasked with recording his life story)? Will Phage ever digest his meal? The meal who yells at him for quite a while and provides Veitch with some great comic relief.

Though there’s a lot of great comic relief amid the great comic.

Outstanding art from Talbot. His figures aren’t the greatest, unless he’s doing a little more caricature, but the settings are amazing and Teknophage himself is just as delightful visually as narratively. He’s an amazing antagonist. He’s kind of an anti-hero but also not.

Despite being from a comic book company I hadn’t heard of–Tekno Comix—until reading this title, Teknophage is actually in print (collected) as well as digitally so it’s readily available and well-worth the read.

Enough for me to continue on into the non-Veitch issues… not sure yet.

Miracleman 10 (December 1986)

7970 20051127175604 largeJohn Ridgway returns to ink Veitch and it works out nicely. Veitch has fine composition, with the Ridgway inks the panels all have a lot of personality. I love how Mike looks so ancient and tired.

Most of the issue is spent with two aliens who have come to Earth to check on the miracle-people. Turns out there are more of them than Moore previously revealed (at least one more) and the aliens use the alternate universe in a similar way.

The stuff with the baby, while beautifully rendered, gets a little tiresome. Moore amps up the pressure on the characters only to immediately release it when a scene is winding up. The baby’s also not visually around a lot and sometimes when Liz and Mike talk about her, it sounds like there’s a monster in the crib.

Moore uses some lovely storytelling devices here too. Really lovely ones.

B 

CREDITS

Mindgames; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Rick Veitch; inker, John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 9 (July 1986)

7969 20051127175546 largeThat is one ugly baby.

Sorry, getting ahead of myself.

This issue features Moore’s returns after a reprints issue and fresh artists. Rick Veitch pencils, Rick Bryant inks. It’s a major improvement over Austen–the panel compositions are once again ambitious–but it’s not particularly great art. Veitch and Bryant do a little Mick Anglo homage and things of that nature, but it’s too broad. Miracleman thrives on visual realism.

The story, which has Liz giving birth to her miracle baby, is pretty good. She goes into labor the first page, then Moore resolves the last of the story arc (more like clean-up) while getting the delivery done. It’s a cute narrative, with Miracleman thinking about the beautiful of life and his place in the universe. Moore manages to sell it too. He’s got an amazing amount of rope on Miracleman.

Oddly, the last panel is the best drawn.

B 

CREDITS

Scenes from the Nativity; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Rick Veitch; inker, Rick Bryant; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Swamp Thing 87 (June 1989)

16057.jpg
This issue has huge vertical double-page spreads from Yeates. Swamp Thing ends up in Camelot and the big pages give Veitch and Yeates a lot of space for their story. It’s not even a particularly big story, just very full of medieval imagery.

Veitch lets the art do all the heavy lifting. There’s nothing particularly complex to the plotting, but Veitch does get in some funny stuff. For instance, King Arthur’s a blithering idiot–a head injury has impaired his intelligence and has him searching for the Holy Grail. Swamp Thing spends a good deal of the issue potted, talking to Merlin.

I suppose Vetich’s decision to have the time travel be so matter-of-fact–the Shining Knight’s around and he’s a frequent traveller–cuts down on plot intrigues. It also makes it much more fun.

It’s also the first time in a while Alec gets interior dialogue.

CREDITS

Fall of the House of Pendragon; writer, Rick Veitch; artist, Tom Yeates; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 86 (May 1989)

16056.jpg
Veitch and artist Tom Yeates do a lovely job on this issue. Veitch constructs a rather complex narrative, where Swamp Thing’s import isn’t even explained until over halfway through the issue, and then in a layered exposition. He transitions from one kind of story to another and by the time Alec makes a visual appearance… not only has Veitch leapt ahead to the modern day, he’s able to make it devastatingly effective.

Great plotting. Just great.

The issue’s also rather amusing; most of it involves a British spy, circa 1800, who’s out to spoil the Americans’ new country. He’s got various disguises–and the disguises become such a device, Yeates never fully visualizes the character. The only time there’s a clear shot of him is when he’s impersonating one of the other characters. Apparently, Veitch and Yeates just came up with it for fun.

The time travel arc’s working out.

CREDITS

Heroes of the Revolution; writer, Rick Veitch; artist, Tom Yeates; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 85 (April 1989)

16055.jpg
This issue’s extremely confusing. Veitch writes it assuming people know Hawk is Tomahawk’s son. In other words, a specialized audience at the time of its publication and an even more specialized one as time goes on. There are probably eight characters–all of them DC Western characters (except a couple for a surprise)–and Veitch has to introduce them all and their ground situations. And it gets slippery.

For example, the unseen German princes–who hire all the Western heroes–don’t make any sense. In the end, they do, once Veitch reveals everything, but when he’s hinting at it… nope, doesn’t work. He also goes too fast in those character introductions.

The issue’s about the Western heroes, not Alec. It’s too bad too; Alec’s story in the issue is a lot more interesting than anyone else’s. And he’s only in the story for a day.

It’s fine enough, just bewildering.

CREDITS

My Name is Nobody; writer, Rick Veitch; penciller, Tom Mandrake; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 84 (March 1989)

16054.jpg
Veitch really puts Abby through the wringer this issue. Instead of supervillains, she gets to deal with the American healthcare system. Comatose ex-husband (and government operative) Matt is now ringing up ten thousand a day and the hospital expects Abby to pay up.

It’s a distressing issue. Without Swamp Thing, there’s not a lot of fantastic in Abby’s life–when Adam Strange shows up to check on her, he’s in regular clothes even–and the assault from the hospital drains her. Mandrake and Alcala show her cornered in small spaces.

All the strengths make up for the lack of resolution in Veitch’s script. He’s even got Matt Cable meeting the Sandman–who tells Cable to make things right–but there’s no explanation how things got right. Maybe there was a page missing in my issue.

Still, the “real world” horror aspect of it gives Veitch a chance to flex.

CREDITS

Final Payment; writer, Rick Veitch; penciller, Tom Mandrake; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 83 (February 1989)

16053.jpg
This issue of Swamp Thing continues the time traveling further into the past, with Swamp Thing meeting up with Enemy Ace. Except it’s not Alec’s story, nor is it Enemy Ace’s story… it’s Abby’s grandmother’s story. The issue belongs to Anton Arcane’s mother–she narrates it, she has the biggest story arc–and it’s downright disturbing.

She’s a war wife; her husband is off fighting (she assumes) and she’s writing to him about her and their children’s struggles. Veitch does a fantastic job with the little World War I things, especially the scene at the front. He also writes a great Enemy Ace. But Countess Arcane loves little Anton–who’s experimenting on people already (along with some other awful things). It makes for an unpleasant read; she’s sympathetic, but she enables him.

Great stuff–Veitch amusingly makes the barely present Alec cute. Mandrake pencils, Alcala inks, the issue looks fantastic.

CREDITS

Brothers in Arms, Part One; writer, Rick Veitch; penciller, Tom Mandrake; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 82 (January 1989)

16052.jpg
Veitch sends Swamp Thing back to Easy Company, which works out quite well. The pacing is key–Veitch introduces Sgt. Rock, a medic, a bad guy and then a surprise bad guy for the finish. In the meantime, Alec is inhabiting the recently deceased body of an ancestor (or just someone with the same name… it’s unclear).

While there are some big Swamp Thing moments, it’s more a war comic and Veitch seems thrilled to be doing it. He and Alcala’s art is outstanding, especially the mundane activities the troops go through.

Veitch also makes Alec more unaware of the situation than the reader. It’s a nice move and makes the time travel related moments play a lot better. The reader gets some buffer room to better enjoy them.

It’s a fun issue; Veitch acknowledges it’s not a series altering trip through time, just a device to make good comics.

CREDITS

Brothers in Arms, Part Two; writer and penciller, Rick Veitch; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 81 (Holiday 1988)

2012-12-26 16051.jpg
Veitch does a sequel to one of the first Swamp Thing issues–I think back in the Wrightson days–and he captures some of that series’s cynicism. Mind you, he’s doing it with a superhero guest star and part of a big crossover event. I almost wish he hadn’t done it because it’s so downbeat. But it’s good.

Most of the issue is spent with Abby and Chester meeting an alien, but there’s a little of Roy Raymond recovering from his ordeal. Veitch doesn’t hint why Raymond gets the attention, but it gives he and Alcala a Louisiana hospital to draw and it looks fantastic.

The issue shows how essential Abby is to Veitch’s approach on the series. Alec doesn’t even show up this issue, but the issue’s outstanding anyway. Maybe even because Veitch gets to tell the story through Abby.

Veitch handles the required big event crossover issue sublimely.

CREDITS

Widowsweed; writer and penciller, Rick Veitch; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

Scroll to Top