I’ve really been getting in to 2000ad over the past few weeks, not just Judge Dredd, but a whole wealth of other worlds, stories and characters that have begun life on the pages of Britain’s longest running thrill power serial. So its no surprise that a good number of the 30 comics that I want to read before I turn thirty originally sprang out of those thrill laden progs. Scarlet Traces was on obvious choice to wind up on that list, it takes HG Wells war of the worlds, adapts it so you don’t even have to have read the original, and then provides you with a sequel, where we see a steampunk British Empire based upon reverse engineered Martian technology.
Volume One of Scarlet Traces is divided into two stories, the first is a very faithful adaptation of HG Well’s original War of the Worlds Novel, which is so faithful in fact, whilst reading it all I had going through my head was the music from Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds, I mean literally right from that very first “No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century….” it was like I was seeing on page the very images that I imagined when reading the book (and lets face it listening to the CD) The Artist, D’israeli, manages to capture the whole victorian sci-fi epic, in quite an open way, his work is a little more cartoonish than I would usually like, but for this story it seems to work.
The Second half of this volume is given over to a completely new story set a decade after the abortive Martian invasion, and shows Britain entering a seemingly golden age, at least on the surface, thanks in no small part to the technology that the Martians left behind. But all is not ticketyboo in the heart of the undying empire, unemployment is rife, discord in the north is high, women are going missing and bodies are turning up in the Thames, Captain Robert Autumn, retired solider and adventurer,and his former Sergeant-Major Archie Currie are drawn into a mystery that leads them from seedy bars to the corridors of power and the very Hall of the Martian King.
Ian Edginton manages to create a whole world (well several actually) and begins to answer a good number of questions that Mr Wells left unanswered in his original manuscript. But whilst the HG Wells original does serve as a jumping on point for this creation, what it doesn’t do is rely too heavily on it to work as a sequel, it introduces completely new characters who work as the stories protagonists, and indeed its antagonists, and manages to actually sit there as its own thing, I mean you could quite easily remove the Wellsian parts and it would still sit as its own story, a story of the price of Empire and how that price is measured in blood and sacrifice. I greatly await the arrival of Volume Two (which I have already ordered), and hope it lives up to this first instalment.