Around the same time that I received copies of Knocked Up Nikki from Nigel Flood at Arcadecon, I also got a copy of The Celtic Clan #1, as well as a very awesome Celtic Clan St. Patrick t-shirt (the context of which I’ll explain later). This is one of the few Irish comics that have been successfully supported by Fundit so far (another title being Stray Lines), and it looks like the crowdfunding website would be a great venture for aspiring indie publishers. But I’m digressing here, so let’s talk about this comic.
The first issue of The Celtic Clan kicks off with a strange discovery under Newgrange that would herald a potential alien attack, so a mysterious agent called the ‘Big Fella’ sets upon forming an official Irish superhero team. His current roster includes The Celtic Tiger (an overweight, anthropomorphic, failed MMA boxer with a grouchy temper) and The Citizen (whose full body riot gear is adorned with the Irish tricolour and a golden harp, even the visor on his helmet is shaped as one!) who are already on bad terms with each other, but the Big Fella halts their quarrel and informs them that they’ll have new recruits on their team.
The new members of The Celtic Clan include The Athlete (who gained his speedy running powers by being struck by lightning while taking a shot of heroin), and a duo of heroines called Legacy and Nymph (Legacy fights with a giant shield and the spear Gae Bolg, Nymph is a bug-eyed fighter with huge wings). The Big Fella informs them of a monster, called Ard Ri the Bog Beast, tormenting people on the Bog of Allen, and the team must work together to dispatch the brute. They succeed in felling him once before he summons a small team of bog men to attack the Clan.
While this is all happening, just below Newgrange, the spirit of an alien is released from the ship hidden under the passage tomb and it inhabits a human body, calling itself the Druid. The Druid becomes an informant to the Celtic Clan later when an esteemed historian called Dr. Bokonon is kidnapped by lizardmen(!) after a conference. The doctor had held a presentation about an invading reptilian alien species called The First Race who were very close to enslaving all of humanity thousands of years ago. Their champion – THE Saint Patrick, who is best described here as a silver haired Conan the Barbarian in ‘roided bishop’s attire – rose up against the First Race and eliminated their control over humankind. And you’ve probably guessed his role by the time the team infiltrate Lough Derg and awake St. Patrick from cryogenic sleep to help them.
And this is only issue one! In short, issue two sees the team enter their first battle with the reptile aliens, with St. Patrick beheading the lizardmen with class. I won’t spoil it, but it seems the Saint has a history with an existing Celtic Clan member, and more juicy backstories are revealed about some members of the team.
The Celtic Clan has a satisfying and awesome story arc – gloriously designed Irish-themed superheroes pummelling the crap out of cold blooded alien fiends and the monsters they send after them – with subtle hilarity, and a sly hint that it’s not taking itself too seriously. Issue #1 is essentially a big infodump, what with everything happening at the same time, and from the looks of things this is a very story-heavy comic: not one where you’ll miss details if you don’t read close enough, but one where the characters and plot will be greatly invested in.
The art style has that rough and ready but delicate linework, reminiscent of Knocked Up Nikki, but aiming for a superhero comics look. The colouring however, perhaps through a printing error, gets rather over saturated in places. The airbrush effect for shadows, scratches, etc smothers the lineart, especially in panels that require clarity such as fight scenes. The colours look considerably brighter and clearer in my PDF of issue #2, so it must ultimately be a printing problem that would hopefully be fixed.
I didn’t expect this comic to grow on me so much, but it has: with a witty eye toward Irish ‘superhero’ archetypes (the buff St. Patrick has pride of place on my t-shirt), and a plot where they battle alien human slavers without turning into utter schlock, makes The Celtic Clan a creatively stunning superhero comic with such humble origins behind its creation.