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Lifelike

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The Bozz Chronicles #2

I may have mentioned before: there was a brief spell when at about the age of 14 I decided to become a serious young man and gave up collecting comics. It was only a year or so later that I wandered back into Groveport’s newly opened, hole-in-the-wall comic shop, but I credit a handful of titles for sucking me back into the joyful habit of reading these four-color funny books: Flaming Carrot, Simonson & Buscema’s Thor, and The Bozz Chronicles by David Michelinie and Bret Blevins.

Bozz was a product of Marvel’s mid-1980’s Epic Comics line. This was one of those everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of series’, featuring a Victorian England filled with aliens, demons, and time travelers– like a Sherlock Holmes detective story with Doctor Who monster weirdness and a Wild Wild West-style steampunk sensibility (others may be familiar with these concepts when they were done by Waid and Guice under the name Ruse). How influential was this series on my own creations? Well, my first ever, best-left-forgotten self published series was an old west tale with a gambler, an Indian sorcerer, and a tough barmaid battling aliens and time travelers, and the character dynamics of this series even peek through the panels of The Ineffables.

Here’s the setup: a prostitute named Amanda Flynn stumbles across a bipolar alien known only as Bozz who is stranded on our planet. Recognizing the usefulness of his keen intellect and space borne powers as a means of keeping herself off the streets, she establishes the detective agency of “Boswell and Flynn” in order to keep his mind engaged with interesting puzzles so he doesn’t descend into depression and kill himself. Along the way they pick up Salem Hawkshaw, a salty American barroom brawler who hangs around in case they need any heads busted. Six great issues of bizarre retro-futuristic adventures followed before the series was cancelled because I was apparently the only person reading it.

In this issue, Bozz & Flynn are engaged to investigate a series of demon sightings plaguing an area of London. The case revolves around two brothers born into wealth, one of whom has been disinherited for leaving his family to make his own way in life (in an occult bookstore, no less). The wealthy brother feels he has wasted his life in indolence, so when his prodigal sibling returns with an occult artifact, he begins experimenting with it as a means to make something of himself. The artifact was actually a trap from the other brother who wished to get his rightful share of the family fortune; it causes the spells the user experiments with to backfire with gruesome results.

Physical deformities and demonic manifestations still fall short of killing someone to get their estate, so when the detectives expose the situation, the scheming brother steps in to close the deal personally, only to have Bozz’s array of bizarre alien powers block his efforts. The villain kills himself in the final confrontation, leaving Bozz to make the sort of moral observation that only the objective outsider in this sort of story is able to do.

Reading these issues after literally decades, I hadn’t realized just how much I took away from them. Credit where credit’s due, this series is as big a personal influence for me as anything Lee and Kirby did.
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