Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Neroy Sphinx, Back in the Game
Writer: Daniel Whiston

Artists: Johnny McMonagle, James Kircough, Davie Thomson
FutureQuake Press, 2014   £5.00

The inappropriateness of Neroy Sphinx

This is not poetry. What’s Neroy Sphinx doing here at all? For a start, he’s a character who comes up when you google Sphinx, and that’s how he found his way into the first OPOIs of 2016. But I’ve just read Chrissy Williams on poetry comics in Over the Line from Sidekick so I was primed. Comics, poetry, com-poetics? I’m on the case.

Or sort of. I decided to read the text like poetry. Why not? But it’s funnier than poems are prone to be, in ways poems are not. The anti-heroic central character, for example, whose ‘lack of spiritual worth renders him a painful subject for all scholars of our pious times’ – this is my kind of hero. His ‘inappropriateness as a decisive figure in the evolution of post-isolation human society’ is admonishingly ironic.

We’re a couple of centuries into the future but nothing much has changed. Neroy Sphinx is heroic in traditional ways. He’s clever, and funny, and he gets the girl (or she gets him). He may be bad but he defeats villains who are worse and uglier than him, and he has powerful friends (one psychic, one ‘blonde supercomputer’). He’s a sultry loner, with a neat double-lick of hair on his forehead and a troubled Past. A Houdini bad-boy who likes treasure, and drinks too much. What’s not to like, for frakk's sake?

It is fun. It draws on a lot of stereotypical sci-fi situations, pulls a number of successful plot surprises, and enjoys itself. At no point do you feel our hero will be defeated, but he suffers enough to make his eventual triumph worthwhile. It’s a long time since I’ve read and enjoyed comics, even though DC comics (when I could get my hands on them) were a formative influence in my childhood. It was good to be back.

It doesn’t really work to read this like it’s a poem. Which is more reassuring than not.

You have to read this set of Neroy Sphinx stories like it is: a sci-fi roller-coaster with a brilliant central character and a sense of humour. Fabulous graphics. History in the making.

Helena Nelson