I’ve just finished reading the hardback of the excellent Scarlet Traces: The Great Game. Written by Ian Edginton and drawn by D’Israeli this is their second sequel to HG Wells’ The War Of The Worlds.
For those unfamiliar with the first Scarlet Traces, the basic premise is that the Martians only invaded Britain and therefore only the British Empire has access to the back engineered Martian technology, including the dreaded heat ray, and has become the only superpower on Earth. However, the geo-social divisions of late Victorian Britain have become more extreme with London as a gleaming capital on the surface and much of the rest of the country still in poverty. The Great Game takes us to about 1940, with the British Empire having taken the war to the Martians on Mars, and it is not going as well as the news reports would have the populace believe.
I like these kind of retro-future stories. Ministry of Space or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen also spring to mind, and Edginton and D’Israeli have turned this one into a paradise of in-jokes and outside references with visual references to The Quatermass Experiment, Quatermass and the Pit, Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, Phoenix 5, Dad’s Army and even Are You Being Served!
From a more comics perspective, the crew of the British fighter, call sign Eagle Leader, attacking the tripods on Mars are Colonel D McGregor and Flt Sgt A Fitzwilliam (do I really need to add Dare and Digby to the ends of those names for you?) while, also for the Dan Dare fans, an ancient chart of the solar system shows Mercury as being inhabited by Atlantines and Venus by Treens and Therons (separated by a flame barrier). It should raise a smile with Doctor Who fans as it also shows the Earth inhabited by Silurians and Sea Devils.
The space transport ship used by the British military is inspired by the Zero X from TV21 (and the Thunderbirds Are Go! film) both in its design and the way the wings and nose cone separate from the main body.
But my favourite has to be the kettle used by one of the characters. You may have thought that Daleks look like pepper pots before but just wait until you see one of their “heads” being used to boil water – which is poured out of the eyestalk!
The book, a reprint of the four issue comic book of the same title, is published by Dark Horse in the USA and it is unlikely that there will be a UK book publication because of the different copyright laws between UK and USA regarding the source novel. However, if you get a chance, take a look at it and wonder at the imagination (and nerve) of its creators.
Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Books