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Never a dull day, being a magician.—Sgt Major William Gravel, Strange Kiss
Gravel is a series of Comic Books.
All William Gravel has going for him is this: He can learn only by doing things over and over like a dog, he's able to do terrible violence to people and walk away after, he knows exactly how far any given person in a room is from starting something, and he knows where the exits are.
That, and he's a combat mage-- one of only around eight he's aware of using his "gift" in such a way. Perfect for Britain's Special Air Service.
Starting life when Warren Ellis wanted to salvage a supernatural story Marvel rejected for not being "kid friendly", Gravel the series follows Gravel the man. A member of the SAS like his father was, Bill Gravel is also a chronic "moonlighter", doing cash and carry jobs off the books for extra money. Too valuable to simply be offed for this breach of SAS protocol, he's instead often put on K Duty-- deniable ops. The shit the British military needs done off the books. Since it's off the books, it's bad for the Sargent Major's service record-- and thus his pay. Which leads to more moonlighting.
He's also a member of Britain's "Minor Seven", the Occult Detectives that keep things clean while the master mages of the Major Seven... do things beyond mortal knowledge.
In contrast to the strong sci-fi leanings of most of Ellis' work, Gravel deals more directly with his love of the Weird Tales tradition, such as Lovecraft and his ilk. Ellis and penciler/ co-writer Mike Wolfer tell tales of a Magnificent Bastard dealing with horrible things Man Was Not Meant to Fuck With.
Gravel first appeared in Strange Kiss #1 (November, 1999). Gravel's story starts in six collected black and white miniseries known as the Strange Killingsbooks, available as trade paperbacks or collected in the Never a Dull Day omnibus. He currently appears every six weeks or so in an ongoing Gravel series, now in color. The first collection has been released, and deals with a major shakeup of the British Occult Community. The next arc should be collected soon.
And Ellis is working on the screenplay for a Gravel film.
- Strange Kiss (1999-2000). 3 issues.
- Stranger Kisses (2000-2001). 3 issues.
- Strange Killings (2002). 3 issues.
- Strange Killings:The Body Orchard (2002-2003). 6 issues.
- Strange Killings:Strong Medicine (2003). 3 issues.
- Strange Killings:Necromancer (2004). 6 issues.
- Gravel (2007-). Still ongoing.
- Badass-- Sgt Major William Gravel, SAS Combat Mage
- Badass Longcoat-- Gravel's garb of choice, with black shirt and jeans
- Black and Gray Morality-- Arguable; Gray and Grey Morality is also a viable call. Gravel sure as hell isn't a white knight. He has ideals-- and watch what he does for them.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? and Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?-- Bill is quite good at this. And later on in the ongoing, we even get Did Bill Just Summon Cthulhu?
- Eldritch Abomination-- Multiple.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore-- Bill possesses the Sigsand Manuscript. Weird Tales fans, yes-- that Sigsand.
- Indy Ploy-- Several by Gravel. Especially when he's dealing with lying commanders who won't tell him everything.
- Secret Test of Character-- Gravel's feud with the Minor Seven? All being watched by the Major Seven, to see if he'd be a suitable replacement for a dead member.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism--Hard toward cynicism, though it can be argued Bill's own cynicism helps him take care of the real bastards.
- Working Class People Are Morons-- Averted hard by Gravel; while not "book smart", he's anything but an idiot. Actually a bad button to press around him. Ask the old Minor Seven. Oops, he killed them all, and was partly able to due to this assumption. The new Minor Seven Bill's building also seem built to avert and lampshade this trope in many ways. Or ask the Major Seven. Uh, you'll need to hunt down the only other survivor.
- Xanatos Speed Chess-- NEVER play this with Gravel...
- X Meets Y: Something like John Constantine meets the SCP Foundation.
"I'm British, you know. Only problem for you is, I don't play fair."