It’s St. Andrew’s Day tomorrow. The National, the slender newspaper that supports independence from the UK, has won a second week of publication, although I couldn’t actually buy it the other day since it had no price code in Tesco. The warplanes have boomed over Moray for three days straight as the rest of the press warns us of the terrorist attacks that have been foiled lately.
And Dundee publishers Diamondsteel Comics’ “Saltire”, released last year, proclaims itself Scotland’s first superhero.
Well, obviously that accolade could go to Marvel’s Wolfsbane, the naive young lycanthrope created by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod in 1983’s New Mutants graphic novel. I used to think her vernacular was inauthentic and an American approximation until I came up here.
Further back, in a 1977 Invaders two-parter, Thomas and Robbins delivered a pastiche of Phantom Lady: Ghost Girl had a distinctly Caledonian burr. Not to mention a presentiment about the metric system.
As far as DC is concerned, the only notable Scot in its colossal ranks is Grant Morrison’s version of the Mirror Master. A scabrously verbally abusive Glaswegian, this super villain once actually took a bribe from Bruce Wayne in return for betraying Lex Luthor. If I recall correctly, MM donated the cash to his former orphanage children’s home, proving himself to be both mercenary and sentimental. No sterotyping there.
Living amid the Picts and in the feverish weeks before the referendum, I was all for a genuine attempt to craft a Scottish equivalent to Cap or Iron Man- a Holyrood blockbuster as it were. Not some wise guy mockery or parody a la Glasgow’s Electric Soup or the satire of 2000 AD. Unfortunately, like the vote itself, this comic just trod a well-worn path of Ginger Cringe.
While it’s a handsome enough package, I found Saltire a barely readable mash-up of Asterix and Highlander with a ho-hum fantasy backdrop that was redolent of Pomp Rock and early-80s role playing games.
Pages of pompous Tolkienesque myth-making clashed with bathetic humour as the blue-hued giant bellowed ” I’m gonnae have you!” at Roman legionaries, not unlike a Tartan Army dad on a Superlager rampage among Lazio fans.
Saltire has been printed in Scots and in Gaelic – as ever feeding the fantasy that it’s the ancestral tongue of the nation- so there’s something laudable about that. But the jarring, unfunny blend of urban dialect and Hobbit-y hokum, the one-dimensional characterisation and the colouring book artwork only make me sigh: “Gonnae no dae that?”
Coming soon: Big Finish Box Sets
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