Violent! suffers from many of the problems with anthology titles in general, and serial anthologies in particular: competing styles and tones get in the way of establishing a consistent identity; individual creators switch their fickle imaginations to pastures new (one strip here, "The Flatworm", features the debut of its fifth artist in just six appearances); plus, it's all too easy to lose track of the various plotlines during the six-month gap between issues.
Which is a pity, because there's much to admire here. Darren Douglas' "Space Dude" may have lifted its central conceit out of Galaxy Quest, but his writing is lively and his artwork top-rate (imagine Flesh Gordon drawn by Ian Gibson). Eales' supervillain drama "The Flatworm" may have recruited James Kircough, but he'll need to work harder on getting each episode to stand on its own two feet; this one feels like the opening minutes of an old Mission: Impossible episode, the slightly tedious bit where Jim Phelps used to throw cast photos onto his coffee table. I also can't say I'm a big fan of Eales' collaboration with Mike Sivier and Stephen Prestwood, "Hard-Boiled Hitler", which seems intended as a satirical spin on the absurdist racism of the unlamented Valiant strip "Captain Hurricance" but strikes me as a one-trick pony past its welcome. Which brings us to "A Little Knowledge", a six-page introduction to an organisation similar to that in Poltergeist: The Legacy, written by Eales and drawn by Caroline Parkinson; it's light, but keeps the reader's attention and may well pan out into an interesting series.
So there you have it: a curate's egg, none of it less than competent and some parts highly memorable (I'd be surprised - and disapponted - if we don't see a "Space Dude" compilation at some point). Considering the output of Jay Eales and Selina Lock's Factor Fiction imprint, that's arguably no mean achievement.
A5, 32pp; £2.00 (plus £0.50 postage) from Selina Lock, 38 Clarkes Road, Wigston, LE18 2BE. Check out http://www.factorfictionpress.co.uk/index.html for full details of their entire line.