5 Reasons I love this book (and there are some SPOILERS herein);
1) Edgintons lively use of the English language, and the idiosyncrasies of Victorian language in particular (seen in full florid effect in his magnificent Stickleback for 2000AD).
2) The plot! Steampunk revenant shenanigans with Holmes & Watson – and in this issue, the return of a familiar foe……(but not how you may have remembered him).
3) Said plot is lively, witty, on occasion quite chilling. What more do you need from a Sherlock Holmes story?
4) Art (from Fabbri) is bright, with some nice Steampunk touches, and his rendering of the undead is solid. There is light and shade, squalor and sleaze, grotesquery and ghoulishness. He can summon a mood of Victoriana with his bold, clean lines – plus, the guy draws mean sideburns as well – respect.
5) It’s accessible. You do not need to be mired in the mythology of Conan Doyle’s creation to appreciate this for what it is – rip-snorting adventure!
This continues to be a bit of a treat. Holmes & Watson dig deep (literally) to uncover foul misdeeds, a mysterious Elizabethan street underground, and revenants galore. And Steam punk Commandos. It’s great – action packed with fruity Victorian dialogue and a Holmes / Watson relationship that never strays far from the traditional / accepted version, but still manages to be sparky and lively. Ian Edgington writes lively Victoriana / Steam punk fiction with effortless ease (see Stickleback for a case in point), and his wit and lively mind are well employed here. Fabbri’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment, easily conjuring up the gaslight and murk of London.
The ending is handsome, setting up issue 3 with a tantalising glimpse of the brains behind the Undead. More excitement to come, no doubt. No signs of fatigue in this issue. I love it.
Ian Edginton, the man behind the likes of the excellent Stickleback and The Red Seas for 2000AD, lends his voice to the burgeoning zombie / history mash-up with his self explanatory ‘Victorian Undead’ – with Sherlock Holmes & Watson at the heart of the matter.
What’s it like? Well, if you have a passing interest in Steampunk or Zombies then this is going to be right up your street, though nothing in it is going to convert you if you are a fan of neither (and maybe you need to be a fan of both to really get it). I liked it – the art gave us a feel for the Victorian era but with maybe a little to polish – I did not feel the grime and dirt at all. The rendering of the zombies was a bit perfunctory, but maybe you just get a bit desensitised to zombies in comics if you read a lot of these sorts of titles. I do read a lot of these genre titles.
Edginton has an ear for the mode of speech of the time (not that I am any authority on the subject) – it felt authentic enough. The plot was easy enough to follow and built up nicely to a simmer – with the promise of more intrigue in issue #2. Is it worth your time? As i said previously, if you like zombies or steampunk then I recommend it. I will be around for issue 2 for sure.
The title ‘Victorian Undead’ sums it up in the way the best high concept ideas do – and this title is a high concept idea that works. A good debut.