Fight The Powers
Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Hayes reviews 2000AD’s Counterfeit Girl, out from 26 June in trade paperback…
Writer: Peter Miligan
Artist: Rufus Dayglo
The recent routine with 2000AD is for strips that get as far as a first full story to have a second one already lined up, and Peter Milligan has suggested that Counterfeit Girl will continue the pattern and return at some point. Even if it doesn’t, the strip is another entry on the ongoing list of collaborations between Milligan and Rufus Dayglo, an artist he clearly feels is on his wavelength, and whose cartooning draws directly on the art styles of 2000AD’s past while jolting them with some modern voltage of Dayglo’s own.
The story isn’t exactly complex in this collection of the strip’s first arc, and Milligan avoids any and all diversions from his main narrative, with hardly a panel not directly connected to Counterfeit Girl’s plot. The theme is freedom and respect, regular Milligan concerns, and also personal identity, here a movable feast in a future world of corporations and surveillance. Knocking on the right door with the right amount of cash can let you be grafted with a fake ID at the cellular level, right down to borrowing someone else’s body language. The person we meet as Lulu Fun, obviously not her real name, deals in fake IDs for deserving recipients, especially those trying to subvert the omnipresent Albion Corporation whose drones and security droids roam the landscape. While hiding from Albion she accidentally acquires an infected persona with a vindictive sense of humour, and has to get rid of it before her internal organs finish collapsing, preferably by meting out some violence to whoever set her up.
Dayglo and colourist Dom Regan wrap Counterfeit Girl in a swarm of skewed backgrounds, jagged outlines, bold spiky hairstyles, and energy beams cutting across the panels; the artist likes this kind of exuberance, and Counterfeit Girl has plenty of it. Brett Ewins’s influence on Dayglo’s art has always been clear and acknowledged, although Counterfeit Girl also carries dedications to John Hicklenton and Steve Dillon, and since the title character is a manic rebellious female protagonist kicking the authorities in the nuts, Dayglo’s past work on Tank Girl in the footsteps of Jamie Hewlett is an influence too. All of which would make Counterfeit Girl feel like a spiritual cousin to 2000AD’s early days of hectic unrefined rabble rousing, even if Milligan wasn’t clearly setting up that sort of atmosphere anyway, and the strip is a rough and tumble sequence of chases and punch-ups, with the feisty anti-authoritarian Counterfeit Girl up against ridiculous cybernetic odds. Anyone who likes 2000AD’s occasional dips into that heritage, stories built on cartoon action with hints of satire rather than the reverse ratio, the kind of tale where the visage of the Spitting Image Margaret Thatcher might turn up to dispense injustice, should find that Counterfeit Girl fits the bill.