Ginger Nuts of Horror
by Steve Wetherell
What if Lovecraft’s protagonists- instead of wussing out and descending into madness- had decided to lace up a sturdy pair of Doc Martin’s and kick Cthulhu in the dick? Well, Brockway’s Vicious Circuit series is what you’d get.
Aged punk Carey is back again where his only super power his frankly astonishing lack of fucks to give. So too is Kaitlin, a woman whose innate pragmatism is terribly at odds with her destiny as a slayer of impossible beasts. Also returning are their enemies, a motley assortment of freaks that might knife you in a back alley, or might erase your very essence to fuel the machinery of the universe.
Shifting from busted-knuckle violence to bad-trip existential dread with nary a blink, Brockway tells a tale with high stakes, lovable characters and wry humour. And let’s not forget just how wonderfully original it all is. Brockway builds a cornucopia of supernatural horror that’d make Pinhead smile, and he does it with an admirable determination not to rummage through the usual pseudo-spiritual detritus from which many horror authors pick their bricks.
I’ve gushed before about the ambition of Brockway’s horror mythos, how it pile-drives us into the visceral before punting us into the aether, but it is not just the sheer scale of this mythos that impresses, but rather the neatness of it. He never falls into the familiar genre ground of presenting the unsettling just for the joy of it, and then shrugging when pressed for explanations. His abominations, processed as they are through the view points of his extremely down-to-earth protagonists, are presented as strangely logical. Every impossible freak that comes along has a distinct rhyme and reason, fitting neatly into the weird evolution of Brockway’s nightmare world.
But please don’t think I’m engaging in some artsy-fartsy pseudo intellectual wankery here. The Vicious Cycle series is devoid of pretension, almost aggressively so. No hipster handbook this, though it will certainly appeal to that ilk. Brockway keeps us firmly in the mud while cursing loudly at the stars.
There’s action. Tons of action. Riding-a-roller-coaster-and-punting-the-heads-off-your-enemies action. A book like this is crying out for a screen adaptation because the pace is relentless and it’s crammed with effortless cool. But there’s enough heart and smarts that you never feel like you’re reading a fleshed out b-movie script. It’s like ordering a drive-thru burger and finding prime steak between the buns. Delicious, gooey, and guilty as sin, but of undoubtable quality.
I’ve followed the development of this series since Brockway first touted his ‘punks vs math’ concept, and it’s gone from strength to strength. It’s rare that the third instalment of a trilogy surpasses its forebears, but here we are. Reading this series was that rare delight of finding something that is wholly its own while scratching itches you didn't even realise you had.
Related Articles: Reviews of PArt 1 and 2 of the Vicious Circuit Trilogy.
Carey and Randall are in early 80s LA. A young Chinese girl with silver hair is the Empty One that seems to run things there, and her ex-lover, an Empty One named Zang, has turned against them and may or may not be onCarey's side. In modern times, Kaitlyn and company have also returned to LA - her powers are growing, and she's been having visions telling her how to kill the angels. The downside being that they have to find a new one, first.