Sunday, 1 March 2015

Alan Moore Obscurities: The Violator (#1-3)

"You despicable, loathsome, slobbering pieces of helltrash! Now you're really going to get told off!" - The Admonisher

"Oh that Alan Moore, he's so obssessed with rape he's only gone and written a miniseries all about it!"  You might think from the title of this comic.  But you'd be so wrong you may as well go hurl yourself in a great big bloody bin, for The Violator is a character from Todd McFarlane's Spawn franchise and this 1994 spin-off mini see's Moore in full on "will write for food" mode.  Oh it's undeniably entertaining in a very silly way, everyone's favourite puppet-snake worshipping grumpy-bones takes some very po-faced characters and sends them up something rotten.  And it's not offensive and insulting like Voodoo was.  But in the end it just passes half a hour pleasantly enough without tickling the old synapses like the best of Moore is wont to do.  I touched briefly on The Violator when I looked at Dave Sim's very odd issue of Spawn, but that was a symbolic made-up Violator.  This is the real made-up Violator, the servant of Malebolgia who for some reason looks like a fat clown when he is in human form and generally likes to piss Spawn about for no particular reason than for the lulz.  Maybe.  I tried to make sense of the Spawniverse from wikipedia and went cross-eyed, so I'll just stick to the content of these three issues I think.

What's immediately noticable are the covers.  There are no credits on them at all, the only words on them are the title and that's it.  You'd have thought they'd trumpet Moore's name but for some reason didn't.  The next thing you'll notice is how nice it looks.  It's printed on thick, shiny paper stock that really helps the art pop.  The art is the final thing you'll notice.  By Bart Sears and Mark Pennington, it's a satisfying mix of the gothic and the crazy, helped along by lush, rich computer colouring work.

The story begins with four demons later to be introduced and The Vindicator, The Vaccilator, The Vandaliser and The Vaporiser.  The four brothers of The Violator and the only good bit of Spawn/WildC.A.T.s.  They are using a pool of human blood to see what is happening on earth to the Violator who has been exiled there and trapped powerless in human form.

The Vandaliser: "I said don't mention him!! He's dishonoured us!  He's made the name Phlebiac sound ridiculous!"

Oh it's like that is it Alan?  Anyway The Violator is in something of a pickle.  His feet are encased in concrete and the mooks of a mobster called Twisterelli are about to throw him into the sea.  Twisterelli leaves before they do the deed and just as they start to throw him, he lunges forward and grabs the tie of one of them (a man called Tommy) in his teeth and both of them end up plummeting into the water.
The Violator and Tommy take a plunge
The Violator gets ahold of Tommy's gun and kills him with it then fires into the concrete freeing his feet. Later on the beach the other mobsters find Tommy's body washed up.  When they go over to check on him, the Violator punches his hand through the back of Tommy's head and fires the gun through his mouth killing the rest of the men.  The action then cuts to Twisterelli hiring a over-muscled, gun toting maniac called The Admonisher to deal with The Violator.  He's a hilarious parody of the Punsher, an archetype ripe for mockery.

Back with the Violator, he's still got Tommy's head jammed on his arm. he runs through a shopping mall and suddenly The Admonisher leaps down and attacks him.

The Admonisher: "I am THE ADMONISHER!  And I'm here to give you a darn good telling off!"
A Wild Admonisher appears!
The Violator, somewhat outclassed tries to run from him.  Meanwhile his brothers are debating whether to help or kill him.  They settle on killing him and transport themselves to the shopping mall.

The Vandaliser: "Well isn't this nice?  Now tell me you don't recognise us!  Your own flesh and blood!! Now who's got a hug?"

The Vandaliser goes on to say they are going to kill him for dishonouring their name, "real men don't wear flesh". The Vandaliser hits The Violator around for a bit then tells the Vindicator to create a magical dome around the area so they can deal with The Violator in peace.  The Vindicator does so, though both The Admonisher and Twisterelli and his right hand man are trapped inside as well. The Admonisher, thinking the Phlebiac brothers are here to help The Violator attacks them, shooting The Vindicator through the head.

The Vindicator: "Owww! My brain!  Hey guys!  He shot my brain out!  Owww!"
The Four Phlebiac brothers.
While the brothers fight The Admonisher, The Violator, consumed with self pity nearby starts relating his history to Tommy's head.  He was born in the sixteenth century.  Doctor John Dee conjured up his demon father and had him breed with a human woman.  The Violator was the result, although his mother died giving birth to him.  Dee did it four more times with four more women and this resulted in his four half brothers (I have to say it's not spelt out if The Violator's father turned into a human form to conceive and as his real form is a demon made out of dicks and fear, well let me just say "Ick" and move on).  Later on The Violator killed their father.

The Violator: "Right at the end he told me I'd broken his heart.  I mean I'd also broken his limbs, his back and his record for 'biggest hole made in a victim'.  But that was just like my old man, never givin' me enough credit."
Some charming family history...
Back with the battle, The Vaporiser swallows The Admonisher whole.  But this fails to stop him and he bursts out of The Vaporiser's stomach.

The Vindicator: "Gee.  Do you think this is what humans feel like the first time they see 'Alien'?"

An angry Vandaliser says this is one more thing they owe The Violator, who is finishing his story to Tommy's head by telling him how he and his brothers hooked up with the demon Malebolgia who runs the eighth circle of hell, but that he screwed up, hence his current exile.  Then he has an idea and runs off to look for Spawn who he says can help him out.
The Violator says to Spawn that if he uses his power to break Malebolgia's curse, not only will he piss Malebolgia off, but The Violator will deal with the four demon brothers, making life easier for Spawn.  He also promises to power Spawn back up once he has his powers again.  So Spawn agrees and gives The Violator his power back.  Weakened he asks The Violator to keep his side of the bargain, but of course The Violator doesn't and kicks him off the roof they are on.

He then returns to where the fighting is, and still in human form he allows The Vandaliser to pick him up, before changing into his demon form and biting The Vandaliser's hand off.  He then rips the Vandaliser's head off and jumps up and down on his body until it's flattened.
The Violator shows his brother who's boss.
Twisterelli and his assistant stumble on the scene and gleefully, The Violator goes after them.  They hide in a shop, and Twisterelli knocks his right hand man out before telling The Violator who has found them that the unconcious man is Twisterelli.  So The Violator grabs him and takes off.  At the same time, The Vindicator, Vaporiser and Vacillator are fleeing The Admonisher, conjuring up a Hellgate to return to the underworld through.

The Violator disguises Twisterelli's right hand man as him in human form and the brothers fall for it, they take him and the remains of The Vandaliser and escape through the gate with The Admonisher in hot pursuit.  Both The Violator and Twisterelli are pleased they fooled their respective foes.  The miniseries ends with The Violator climbing to the top of a tall building and some poetic Alan Moore dialogue.

Narrator: "The devil clambers up towards the stars.  He hears a million heartbeats from the dreaming buildings far below... the planet and its sleeping hearts are spread before him in the night and the enemies of mankind that there be: by far the worst has come home to roost."
Hell holds no fear for The Admonisher.
So that was Alan Moore's Violator (ew, that sounds like some kind of beardy, occult sex toy).  I'd be fascinated to know how this mini was received at the time, in the US at least Moore was seen as a VERY SERIOUS writer, writing VERY SERIOUS comics by audiences who generally weren't able to see the more subtle humour he was employing to flavour those comics.  In the UK memories of 2000AD's "D.R & Quinch" and Warrior's "The Bojeffries Saga" would be fresher in people's minds and tone of The Violator wouldn't have come across as perhaps as jarring compared to Moore's other works. Add in some gorgeous art that really works in harmony with Moore's script (not something you could say of much of his Image output, alas) and if you see this lurking about on eBay for a few quid it's well worth adding to your Alan Moore shelf (you do have a shelf devoted to him don't you?). Finished now so please leave, before I... admonish you.

Oh But Wait... A Special Bonus Thing!

At the back of issue #1 we get an insight into the creative collaboration between Alan Moore and the penciller Bart Sears which is fascinating because we get to see some Alan Moore artwork, to whit, the rough thumbnails he drew for the suggested layouts and how closely Sears stuck to them. 

I'd love it if more Alan Moore projects had shown us stuff like this, it shows how even with the commercial stuff he was doing to support the likes of From Hell and Lost Girls, he was still deeply committed to it.  Although this makes it even harder to defend the likes of Voodoo and Spawn/Wildc.A.T.s.  I just like to pretend in those cases his thumbs were ignored, or that he was losing interest in the Image era of art and writing and didn't supply any.  Yeah, I am going with that excuse.


  1. i could never get into spawn, but this was funny! and alan moore is a pretty good artist too.

  2. No, I have read the first couple of Spawn collections and while I like the art, Todd MacFarlanes writing is very poor.

    Moore actually started out drawing as much as he wrote in the late-70's. For music magazines mainly and his local newspaper (which he kept doing a strip for right up until the mid-80's). Wasn't until he started working for Marvel UK and 2000AD that he concentrated on just writing.

  3. I can't post a comment because this bin doesn't have WiFi :-(

  4. I was only joking when I said that, but as soon as I said it my internet went down. Alan Moore must have hexed me.

  5. Heh :D You trifle with the followers of Glycon at your peril!