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Comic Book / ABC Warriors

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ABC Warriors is a long-running comic strip written by Pat Mills, which first published in 1979. Art for the opening episodes was by Kevin O'Neill, Mike McMahon, Brett Ewins and Brendan McCarthy, who among them designed the original seven members of the team.

The A.B.C. Warriors themselves are a team of war robots designed to withstand Atomic, Bacterial, and Chemical warfare. They were built to take part in the long-running Volgan War, but since then have been involved in various bizarre adventures across time and space.

Each robot has a distinctive personality, often one programmed by its human creators, but each is more or less able to act with free will.

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Alternate History: The continuity is based around the idea that the Soviet Union was taken over by an ultra-Stalinist leader in the late 20th century. And acts as a sequel to Savage.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • In Return To Earth, Mark III Hammersteins are fitted with immobilizers to form war memorials. Hammerstein poses as one and the FBI start hitting him with everything they've got, having seen through his ruse. He is unable to move until he uses one of Deadlock's Magitek techniques to break the immobilizer.
    • How Steelhorn became the Mess. He is melted down to be scrapped but manages to remain conscious the entire time. As a result, he has a very strong hatred towards humans.
  • Arm Cannon: Hammerstein has these, Mongrol has a number of guns built-in and, in a recent story, Joe Pineapples improvises a weapon using one of these taken from a taxi driver.
  • Author Tract - Some of the chaos magic stories come off like this at times.
  • Bedlam House - Mek-Quake was incarcerated in one of these for a time. Apparently it was designed by the inmates to make them feel more at home. Putting Mek Quake in it turned out to be a bad move as he basically felt like the other Warriors had betrayed him by putting him in it.
  • Berserk Button: Insulting Mongrol's creator, Lara, is a good way to get him to go into a berserker frenzy.
  • Big Bad: The G-Men led by Doktor Grobari and Detective inspector Sturn are the current antagonists, while Volkhan, Blackblood, and Howard Quartz are revealed to be a Greater Scope Big Bad Ensemble.
  • Calling Your Attacks: "Nourishment!"
  • Canon Discontinuity - Virtually everything that happened in Pat Mills' Khronicles of Kaos was immediately undone by the next creative team. Except for the new Warriors that Mills had introduced — they were brutally slaughtered on-panel.
    • As a result of this (and a few other strips that Mills created and handed over to others), if Pat Mills created it, no other writer is allowed to write about it.
  • Canon Welding - ABC Warriors takes place in the same continuity as Ro-Busters, Invasion!, Savage, Flesh and Nemesis the Warlock. It was also at one time in the same universe as Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, Rogue Trooper and all their various spinoffs.
  • Catchphrase - "Spread the word!" "Increase the peace!" "Nourishment!" "A1!" "Mongrol smush!" "Ssssss!" "Bzzzt!" "Bigjobs!"
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder - Blackblood worships a robot named Judas, who was the first to rebel against humanity. Betrayal is literally a central tenet of his religion.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander - Mek Quake.
  • Cold Sniper - Joe Pineapples. Probably literally, given that he's a robot.
  • Continuity Snarl - In the early stories, ABC Warriors was specifically set in the same universe as Judge Dredd. The timeline has now been rewritten so that it couldn't possibly take place in the same universe - unfortunately, both ABC Warriors and Judge Dredd have battled descendants of Old One-Eye, a character from the earlier story Flesh, who in turn battled time-traveling 23rd-century cowboys (long story) — thus, both ABC Warriors and Judge Dredd must have the same 23rd century, even though their timelines now wildly diverge. Of course, all that going back in time to hunt dinosaurs has probably screwed up all the timelines.
  • Cool Shades - Joe Pineapples.
  • Cool Sword - Deadlock derives much of his power from the soul-drinking Ace of Swords.
  • Cool Tank - Mek-Quake is one.
  • Cyber Cyclops - Hammerstein, during his Ro-Busters days
  • Deadpan Snarker - Blackblood; to a lesser extent, Deadlock, and Ro-Jaws
  • Drop the Hammer - Hammerstein's right hand is the head of a sledgehammer.
  • Easily Detachable Robot Parts - Mostly Hammerstein, who in the middle of a battle pulls his own arms off to replace those of a comrade. In an early story, Joe Pineapples takes his head off in the bath.
  • Evil Cripple - Blackblood has a road drill for a leg and one eye. He could just get them replaced but you know...
  • Face–Heel Turn: Mek Quake was once manipulated and tricked by Blackblood into pulling one after being locked up in an insane asylum. Ironically, this was done as part of Blackblood's own Face Heel Turn.
  • Fantastic Racism - Robot-hating is extremely widespread, usually with little or no justification, and most humans are willing to abuse and exploit even their own robots even when doing so would hinder their longterm plans (such as refusing to maintain a mining robot until it breaks down and has to be scrapped, even though maintenance would be considerably cheaper than building a new robot.) You have to wonder why so many robots are made if they're so universally loathed.
    • Humanity appears to have got over the worst of this by the time they appear in Nemesis the Warlock. Suffice it to say that that arc used a lot of tropes that will be very familiar to Warhammer 40,000 fans.
  • Fem Bot - Morrigun
  • Good Old Robot - Sort of. Given that the Warriors are all centuries old, they probably all qualify.
  • Hulk Speak - Mongrol.
  • Humongous Mecha - Several, but particularly memorable was George the Gargantek. The main cast arguably count too, considering that they're all taller than an average person.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills - Joe Pineapples is capable of sniping targets on the other side of the galaxy.
  • Info Dump - Writer Pat Mills is very fond of these.
  • Ink Blot Test: Mek Quake was subjected to one during the time spent in a Bedlam House. The only response he could come up with for all the inkblots was "BIG JOBS!".
  • Just a Machine - The standard human view of robots.
  • Kill It with Fire - Zippo's mouth has a flamethrower.
  • Magitek - Describes Deadlock to a T. Also, to some extent, Steelhorn.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai - This is the strip's core premise on Mars.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Hammerstein's name is derived from his sledgehammer right hand.
    • Mongrol is a mishmash of different parts Lara used to rebuild him after his original body was destroyed.
    • Steelhorn indeed does have horns. His alter ego, The Mess, is little more than sentient molten metal.
    • Zippo is named after the brand of cigarette lighter, as he has a flamethrower inside his mouth.
    • Tubal Caine takes his name from biblical smith.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms - Robots have hearts and circulatory systems, apparently. Oh, and it's somehow possible to castrate a robot to prevent them from reproducing.
  • Mechanical Monster - Mongrol and Mek-Quake.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous - Hammerstein during his early days.
  • More Dakka - Especially in the storylines drawn by Simon Bisley and Kev Walker.
  • Mr Fix It: Tubal Cain is the go-to robot for repairs and refits.
  • The Psycho Rangers: The Shadow Warriors. Also, the team of robots Volkhan assembles after being broken out of prison.
  • Punny Name - Two of the characters are named Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein.
  • Real Men Wear Pink - Joe Pineapples is the greatest sniper in the universe. And a transvestite.
    • That one was swiftly retconned out in the very next story arc due to hostile reader response.
      • At least artist Kev Walker lets him wear a very flamboyant leopardskin jockstrap in the next storyline.
  • Mars - most of their adventures take place on Mars.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots - And one Ridiculously Robot Human...
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand - Quite literally with George the Gargantek, who has a separate brain in each hand - and foot - and they don't like to cooperate.
  • Robosexual - Joe Pineapples was apparently reassigned following a scandal involving a human officer's wife.
    • Hammerstein became involved romantically with Terri and they were all set to settle down together until she got killed.
  • Robotic Psychopath - Mek-Quake and Blackblood.
  • Robot Religion - Blackblood is a member of the Church of Judas, a religion for robots who have betrayed their masters. Deadlock is a great fan of Khaos.
  • Robot War - Pretty much the point of the series.
  • Room Full of Crazy - Volkhan had the telekinetic ability to write messages in oil on the walls of his room when incarcerated.
  • Rule of Cool - Why does Joe Pineapples need a leather jacket? Why does Hammerstein have a hammer instead of a more useful hand? Why doesn't Blackblood just get a new leg? Why is Deadlock a robot monk? Rule of cool, my friend.
  • Sergeant Rock: Hammerstein is A Father to His Men during the war. He actually does hold the rank of Sergeant and does everything he can to try and save "his boys", even if his officers have other ideas.
  • Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence
  • Speech Bubbles: Hammerstein's are octagonal, Zippo's are tetrahedral, Joe's are pentagonal, and Deadlock has these sort of black clouds with scrawly white letters.
  • Spin-Off - Ro-Jaws, Hammerstein and Mek-Quake all appeared in the earlier strip Ro-Busters.
  • Super Prototype: Hammerstein to the Mark III Hammersteins. During the Volgan War, he has independent action, whereas the rest of the Hammersteins must obey their human officers.
  • That Man Is Dead: Tubal Cain's original "slave name" is Happy Shrapnel.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Each of the warriors has their own personalities. Hammerstein, in particular, is probably the most upstanding of them all.