Alec Swan
Created by James Robinson

"I'm a Touchstone guy in a Walt Disney world...and sometimes I hate it."
-- Alec, reflecting on the new Ultraverse

Firearm, a now-defunct comic book series, published by Malibu, featured ALEC SWAN, a former British Special Boat Service member and spy. A voracious reader, it's his love of the work of Chandler and Hammett that leads Swan to move Stateside and set up his own private detective agency in Pasadena, California. Alas, things are never that simple.

The whole concept of Malibu's comic book universe (dubbed the "Ultraverse") was that certain random people on earth were suddenly endowed with powers and the various titles revolve around how they dealt with them. Alec isn't one of those "ultras", yet it seems he can't avoid them. No matter what case he's on, it seems that somehow he keeps running into these freaks.

A nice mix of genres, as the hardboiled P.I. bumps up constantly with the superhero andspandex brigade. And despite all the over-the-top punchouts and the like, Swan manages to find time to spout some Chanderlesqe witticisms, and occasionally wax nostalgic about how the Los Angeles of Chandler is not the Los Angeles he knows.

Creator Robinson, who's since gone on to write the excellent Starman series and the entertaining Vigilante miniseries for DC/Vertigo, has a real love for the hard-boiled genre and the old pulp and comic book heroes, and it shows in his attention to detail, his sly winks and tips of the hat to the pulp heroes who've preceded him.

EVIDENCE

  • People sometimes overlook the actual text in comic books, distracted as they are by pretty pictures. But get a load of this, from a scene where Swan is reminiscing on what drew him to LA in the first place, and Pasadena in particular:
    .
    "He's walking along, musing about how much he loved Chandler and how he wishes that the LA he had was the one Chandler had: "The first time I passed through Pasadena, I did not feel a whole lot for it...It was beaten up back then. Boy, was it beaten up. Homeless people everywhere. (Not that being homeless is a crime, but the sight of them en masse does not make for an aesthetic street scene.)...Everything was falling down. Old Town was a dump...And people, when they shopped here, went to the mall like in every other soulless, gutless, bland suburb of Southern Cal....Me, I'm this close to moving to Orleans....And then I turned the corner on Raymond, and saw the Green Hotel. And I just knew I had to live there...On top of which, I began to think to myself that any area where a building as stylish as the Green Hotel is left to remain standing, 'stead of being torn down for a mini-mall or a parking lot deserves a second look....So I took a second look...At Pasadena."
    .
    Not bad, huh? (Thanks to Bill Holmes on Rara-Avis...hope he doesn't mind.)

COMICS

  • FIREARM
    (1993-95, Malibu)
    19 issues, 1-18, and a special #0 issue
    Written by James Robinson
    Art by Cully Hamner, Gary Erskine, Brian O'Connell
  • (September 1993, #0; came with video)
  • "American Pastimes," Part One (September 1993, #1)
  • "American Pastimes," Part Two (October 1993, #2)
  • "American Pastimes," Part Three (November 1993, #3)
  • "American Pastimes," Part Four (December 1993, #4)

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, and thanks to Chris Gumprich for the heads-up.


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