Portraits In Alienated British Youth Circa 1989-90, Part Eleven :

Enter The Iron Lady

You knew it had to happen at some point in the pages of True Faith : Nigel, Terry, and their newfound “friends” have been entirely too successful in their church-burning campaign and,  this being 1989 and all, no less than Margaret Thatcher herself has deigned to take an interest in the proceedings.  Fun’s over, right?

Hmmmm — not so fast, because the scene showing PM Thatcher (depicted entirely — and appropriately — in shadow by artist Warren Pleece) conferring with her senior ministers is actually a great deal of fun, and showcases Garth Ennis’ penchant for spot-on political satire in sharp, biting, visceral detail. I particularly like the part where she  says she knows the arson fires can’t be the work of devil-worshipers because “I was talking to Norman last night — one of our little chats, you know — and I asked him about it. He said it isn’t the Satanists. Certainly not from his coven, anyway.”

I have no clue who this “Norman” fellow is, mind you — maybe one of you good readers out there can enlighten me — but even so, it made me chuckle.

After Thatcher closes her meeting with the decree that “it’s time to take action,” we return to Nigel, the next morning, and get a glimpse at what it’s like for him to go through the motions of daily school and family life now that he’s leading a double existence as one of the most-wanted terrorists in the land. Ennis puts it best,  I think, when his protagonist states by way of his ongoing interior monologue that “being conscious is an utter wank these days.”

His appearance certainly seems to confirm that — Pleece shows Nigel as a completely disheveled, unkempt mess who can barely stay awake during daytime hours, but he’s also, strangely enough, learning to assert himself for what appears to be the first time. When Angela’s “jar-head” boyfriend, Mike, decides to push our “hero” around at school yet again, good ol’ Nige finally strikes back — literally, with a cricket bat. The actual ass-whipping isn’t shown, but as we cut to a scene of Nigel in the headmaster’s office being lectured as to the fact that he “could face assault charges,” well — we get the idea. For the time being, though, it seems a two-week suspension from school is all he’s been handed down. Ah, those carefree pre-Columbine days, huh? Now days, the simple act of phoning in a fake bomb threat because you want to get out of gym class that day will get you expelled and arrested for sure.

Then, as chapter eight —ominously titled “The Fall” — winds down, we’re back to Thatcher, who, after being shown engaging in some Nixonian-style spying on her subordinates, decides that the time has come to call in the Special Forces. Things are about to get very hairy indeed, it would seem, and they were already pretty damn hirsute to begin with.

Chapter nine, “Holy War,” begins with Nigel taking a phone call at home from his new “boss,” Cornelius, who informs his youthful conscript that he’d better be “there” tonight because “there’s more surgery to be done on the world.” Sounds promising, does it not?

Cut to the  paramilitary forces assigned to protecting St. Paul’s Cathedral, which I guess is Ennis’ way of telegraphing to readers where that “there” Cornelius was just talking about it is, and suddenly it looks like the authors is moving his pawns into position for  some sort of final show-down.  And really, what better place in the whole of the United Kingdom for it to happen in?

A couple of very nicely-illustrated pages of fire-bombed crucifixes, flung molotovs, and machine-gun fire close this action-packed installment , and who lives and who dies is a very open question once the troops move it and the bullets start flying.

And that, dear friends, is where I leave you in what passes for “suspense” in an ongoing series of internet essays (unless you’ve already read the comic, in which case no real “revelations” of any sort are in store for you when next we meet, anyway), but join us here in a handful of days and we’ll see how this gleefully misanthropic four-color (well, okay, it’s actually painted color) cautionary tale plays out!

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Ryan Carey maintains a B-movie (with occasional comics-related content) blog at trashfilmguru.wordpress.com, and writes about films and comics for sites such as unobtainium13.com, dailygrindhouse.com, geekyuniverse.com, and now Sequart. You can follow him on Twitter @trashfilmguru.

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1 Comment

  1. Robbie Foggo says:

    It’s been a while since I read this but at a guess the Norman that it’s referring to will probably be Norman Tebbit – “Norman Tebbit” on @Wikipedia:

    With time in the dept of employment/ dept of trade and industry he was a divisive enough character that even I remember his name and I wasn’t a teenager until the very late 80′s. He probably had a good Spitting Image puppet.

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