Grant MorrisonMark MillarBig Dave2000 AD
Big Dave: Target Baghdad
Medium: comic
Year: 1993
Writer: Grant Morrison, Mark Millar
Artist: Steve Parkhouse
Country: UK
Keywords: Big Dave, 2000 AD
Format: 2000 AD 842-845
Website category: Comics UK
Review date: 9 March 2022
2000 AD 842-849 are an interesting hiccup. Grant Morrison and Mark Millar took over the magazine for two months in a "Summer Offensive" to show everyone how to do it. They wrote all the strips (except for John Smith's Slaughter Bowl), with the idea of restoring 2000 AD to its roots as a punk magazine.. but they failed and everything went back to normal afterwards.
Morrison's Dredd epic has some points of interest but is essentially lots of ultra-macho and nothing new, while Really & Truly is pretty bubblegum. Maniac 5 is 1990s Mark Millar and is hence empty and pointless. (All three have fun art, though, courtesy of Carlos Ezquerra, Rian Hughes and Steve Yeowell.) I'm a fan of John Smith, though, and I enjoyed Slaughter Bowl.
Big Dave was the only genuinely new thing in that Summer Offensive. And yes, he was indeed Offensive.
He's a parody of The Sun's worldview, basically. He's a sexist, racist, homophobic grotesque with no brains and two pit bull terriers. He'll kill you if you call him a poof. (Literally, murder you. You'll become food for his pit bulls.) In ep.1, he hospitalises and then kills a soldier who was merely trying to offer him a job. Ep.2 has him sexually harassing a woman, making her run away crying and then laughing it off with, "Big-headed cow! S'only a bit of fun, right? They love it!"
The caption boxes lionise him, in xenophobically Sun-like bombast. "A man who could teach Johnny Foreigner what happens when you mess with the red, white and blue. Big God, we needed Big Dave!"
The absurdist plot has John Major sending Big Dave to defeat Saddam Hussein. The butcher of Baghdad has teamed up with aliens from Sirius, who've given him a Love Gun that can turn the British Army into homosexuals! Oh, and Big Dave will be fighting alongside Big Terry, i.e. Terry Waite, the Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs for the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1980s. (What the hell? Where did Morrison and Millar get that idea? This story gives us an offensively inaccurate portrayal of him, although Steve Parkhouse draws him recognisably. Mind you, Terry Waite did actually join the army when he was young, although he left after a few months. So that fits, to a very small extent.)
Parkhouse is of course magnificent. We are not worthy. I love his goofy aliens.
This is an appalling story, which is why it's brilliant. Its gay portrayals are monstrous, for instance. That's the point. (Gay soldiers are useless because they're flouncing around like drag queens and doing their makeup. "These shirtlifters are useless. It's up to you and me, Terry.") It's an exaggerated version of The Sun's view of the world... and this is thirty years ago, before the newspaper had been hit by phone-tapping scandals and still had its Page Three girls. Look up their coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, for instance. Big Dave is amazing.