This review of Heart of Empire was added to the site on 18/5/03 and was
originally published on the Artbomb
Heart of Empire is the sequel
to The Adventures of Luther Arkwright,
one of the most influential works of British comics as well as being one
of the earliest adult graphic novels. Aesthetically, though, it is a direct
descendant of Talbot's later The Tale of
One Bad Rat - the evocative monochrome and incessant intense innovation
of Arkwright replaced by the cool pure clarity of Rat, the vivid colours
and the spare, bold lines. He selects minimally from his huge toolbox,
time effects and crosscutting used in linear flow, everything placed in
service of telling the story as clearly as possible while refusing to
compromise mature complexity.
This is the story of Victoria, daughter of Luther Arkwright: Arkwright
being a posthuman agent of a perfect world who is capable of travelling
between parallel earths. Victoria's Earth and England is one which was
dominated into the late 20th Century by the Cromwellian Puritan regime.
It was Arkwright who helped destabilise that, along with Victoria's mother,
who is now a crazed Queen whose head is wanted on a most deserving block
by at least two different factions. What Victoria knows as a Golden Age
is built on madness and atrocity. And she has her own secrets, too; as
Arkwright's daughter, she is more than human...
While not as life-changing as Luther Arkwright, Heart of Empire
is a rich work of science fiction, warmer and more human than its precursor,
and it superbly creates what I didn't think was possible: a necessary
aftermath to Arkwright.
-- Warren Ellis
Also take a look at Warren's review
of the Adventures of Luther Arkwright, and the Artbomb
site where this was originally published. For more articles and interviews
check out the articles page, and to see
what other people have said about Bryan's work see the quotes
page. Heart of Empire, The
Adventures of Luther Arkwright and the Tale
of One Bad Rat all have their own homepages on the site.