The Book: Set in 1947, amidst the largest UFO flap in history, four disparate crew members are chosen to go to the moon to investigate a strange lunar signal that has been picked up by British radio astronomers. Their mission brings them into contact with mysterious British Intelligence Officers, deranged ex-Nazi scientists, CIA operatives, Scottish Highland Sheep, and the biggest, most insidious conspiracy the world has ever faced.
The Review: It’s perhaps difficult for some to imagine now, but there was a point, before the Cold War, where the United States, Britain, France and Russia were allies – partners in the overthrow of the Nazi threat that engulfed Europe and the perils of Japanese imperialism.
Martin Hayes and Jim Boswell‘s original graphic novel takes that brief period of co-operation between nations, democrat and communist, and interweaves post World War Two friendship into a delightful blend of Fortean intrigue. The UFOs spotted by Kenneth Arnold near Mount Rainer are real, as are the aliens discovered in a crashed flying saucer at Roswell. And these aliens are no friends to Earth: they have a masterplan they’ve been working on for years to bring an end to the human race and take our planet for themselves.
It’s perhaps unusual for an “alternate timeline” graphic novel to outline the beginnings of a break with our reality, but between them Hayes and Boswell craft a cunning tale that borrows from no end of conspiracy theories, delivering a terrific romp of an adventure as Britain, France, the US and the USSR battle murderous insect men piloting flying saucers. Their heroes are wonderfully flawed in different ways as they take the war to the Moon and back, the story a glorious cross between Commando and an extended 2000AD Future Shock.
It’s not without flaw: why, if certain world leaders are alien slaves, are others not? (Perhaps future volumes will reveal the answer to that one). Despite advances of rocket technology during World War Two and access to alien technology, would humankind really have been able to send a four-man team to the Moon in 1947? But the story, while sometimes slight on characterisation (relying on Boswell’s great character art to embelish an enjoyable script) proves so engaging, cracking along at a terrific pace, that I’m happy to overlook these small nitpicks.
Favourite character of the book? The near-alcoholic Squadron Leader William Fitzwilliam Brown assigned to the squad sent to investigate a strange signal coming from the moon. If this is Richmal Crompton’s boy grown up, then he’s a delightful contrast to the square-jawed Dan Dare you might find leading such an expedition in other universes.
The format of Project Luna suggests the possibility of further volumes if sales permit. I certainly hope there will be, based on this first outing, a delicious pot-pourri of Fortean-inspired nightmares!
• Preview – Project Luna 1947 (PDF on Markosia web site)
• Martin Hayes is at: www.paroneiria.com
• Jim Boswell is at: www.jimmibo.co.uk