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Crisis No 1

Issue 1 cover art by Carlos Ezquerra, 1988

Crisis was a politically aware comic for adults published by Fleetway, first as a fortnightly, later as a monthly. Its first editor was Steve MacManus. It was launched in September 1988, featuring two 14-page strips: "Third World War" by Pat Mills and Carlos Ezquerra, a polemical series examining how the west exploits the developing world by extrapolating trends into the near future, as observed by a group of conscripted "peace volunteer" soldiers; and "New Statesmen", a futuristic political superhero strip by John Smith and Jim Baikie. The comic was printed in the same proportions as American comics, so that each strip could be re-formatted into an American-style monthly series, but these did not last.

"Third World War" later moved on from developing world topics to minority issues within the UK and introduced two new artists, Sean Phillips and Duncan Fegredo, while Mills took on co-writers including Alan Mitchell and Malachy Coney. When "New Statesmen" finished it was replaced by two contemporary stories: "Troubled Souls" by Garth Ennis and John McCrea, set amid the "troubles" of Northern Ireland, and "Sticky Fingers", a flatshare comedy by Myra Hancock and David Hine. "Troubled Souls" was Ennis's comics debut, and led to a sequel, "For a Few Troubles More", and a religious satire, "True Faith", the latter illustrated by Warren Pleece.

"True Faith" and another proposed strip, "Skin" by Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy, about skinheads and thalidomide, ran into problems with censorship. Robert Maxwell, Fleetway's then owner, withdrew the collected edition of "True Faith" from sale after receiving objections from religious groups; "Skin" was dropped after the printers refused to handle it, probably over its harsh language. It was later published as a graphic novel by Tundra Publishing, and failed to generate any noticeable outrage. Another casualty of censorship was John Smith and Sean Phillips's "Straitgate". Its main character was intended to be a self-obsessed young loner who suffers from delusions and ends up going on a killing spree, but it was toned down until he became little more than a self-obsessed young loner.

Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell contributed "The New Adventures of Hitler" (originally published in Cut, a Scottish arts and culture magazine), a speculative story about how the young Adolf Hitler's stay in England might have affected his later actions. Morrison also wrote Bible John: A Forensic Meditation, illustrated by Daniel Vallely, about a series of murders in Glasgow, and "Dare", his revisionist take on Dan Dare with artist Rian Hughes, concluded in Crisis after its original home, Revolver, folded. Morrison's frequent collaborator Mark Millar contributed a grim prison story, "Insiders", drawn by Paul Grist.

Later issues of Crisis included a number of translated European strips, including Milo Manara and Federico Fellini's Trip to Tuluum and a number of short strips by Miguelanxo Prado. After issue 49 Crisis was published monthly, for 14 further issues, finally ending in October 1991. "Third World War" generated a spin-off series, "Finn", in 2000 AD.

Other creators whose work appeared in Crisis include Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, John Hicklenton, Philip Bond, Si Spencer, Steve Sampson, Chris Standley, Peter Doherty, Igor Goldkind, Tony Allen, James Robinson, Tony Salmons, Oscar Zarate, Paul Neary, Steve Parkhouse and Bernie Jaye.

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