Ian Edgington & D'Israeli
Dark Horse Comics
was the cover of the first of the two Scarlet Traces books that caught
my eye. A Lovely deep mottled green, the blood splattered title, the
small blue planet sat neatly within a square frame and most crucially of
all the D'Israeli. That one name meant I was sold but reading the
sentence across the top of the cover, 'A murder mystery sequel to H.G.
Wells' The War of the Worlds' certainly didn't put me off.
been a fan of the artist since way back when he drew the Warren Ellis
book 'Lazarus Churchyard'. I'm a sucker for nice cartoony art which is
something that delivers in spades and never more so than here. The
writer, Ian Edgington, is someone I've been reading on and off for years
now mostly through his work for 2000ad. He's not someone whose work I
seek out but is someone who I generally enjoy when I do find something.
The story in 'Scarlet
Traces' takes place 10 years after the events of the classic H.G. Wells
novel, 'War of the Worlds'. The after-effects of this war are obvious
throughout the course of the story, as alien technology is evident
everywhere you turn.
Traces is a steampunk romp set some years after the Martian invasion.
It tells the story of Major Robert Autumn and his batman Colour Sergeant
Arthur Currie as they investigate Currie's missing niece in a world
where the Martian technology left over from the war has been
reverse-engineered to make England the most affluent and powerful
country in the world. Their investigaton leads them inevitably to a
corruption within this brave new world worse than they could have
The world, it's technology and it's denizens are rendered beautifully and the story flows effortlessly to it's conclusion.
The War of the Worlds
In the closing years of the nineteenth century, the genteel tranquillity
of Victorian England is shattered by the arrival of an invasion force
from the red planet-Mars! Methodical and merciless, the Martians are
intent on nothing less than the conquest and subjugation of the human
Told from the point of view of an ordinary man caught up in the carnage
and chaos, we witness firsthand how the then-greatest empire in the
world is brought to its knees by the Martians'cool alien intellect and
the implacable heat ray!
Following S.T. the pair went the prequel route and told the story that triggered the whole thing.
not a huge fan of adaptations. I much prefer originals but this one is
beautifully rendered - have a look at the sheer size of the martian
capsule he's managed to convey in this illustration
- and the text has been translated to the comic medium with a delicate, respectful and expert touch.
original book was a sparse and tightly plotted novel and the adaptation
is the same. There's a lovely continuity between the books that show
just how prepped Edgington and D'Israeli were before embarking on S.T.
and the little hints and references to characters featured in the
previous book help to tie everything together.
The front line of the
War of the Worlds has been taken to the red planet itself! After almost
four decades of conflict, the British invasion of Mars has ground into a
bloody stalemate. The nation is cracking at the seams, and liberties
are being revoked as Prime Minister Spry struggles to maintain order at
home while waging war another world away. What does Spry have up his
nasty little sleeve? Robert Autumn, aged gentleman adventurer and hero
of Scarlet Traces, is determined to find out!
final volume returns us to future and Britain and it's colonies are
fully committed to and thoroughly embroiled in the invasion of Mars.
Autumn, now much older and in drastically altered circumstances from
how we left him, recruits crusading photo journalist Charlotte Hemming
to investigate and expose the truth behind the seemingly endless war and
the brutal government regime that maintains it.
The scope of this book is
considerably wider than it's predecessor and although maybe a little too
fast in the telling, probably due to it's limited page count, it is a glorious end to a very satisfying romp to Mars and back again.
- should you be interested there's also a website dedicated to
annotating the references and allusions contained within the series.