Graphic Novel Reviews

Scarlet Traces

A Murder-Mystery Sequel to H. G. Wells' The War of the Words

(2003) Ian Eddington & D'Israeli, Dark Horse, 12.99 / US$14.95, hrdbk, 88 pp, ISBN 978-1-569-7-1940-4


All right, so this review is a little late, but Scarlet Traces stubbornly, and deservedly, remains in print and has become somewhat of a minor classic hence worthy of review. It appeared serialised in Britain's Judge Dredd Megazine but also has been collected into this North American Dark Horse graphic novel, which, as it happens, is also available over here.

As for the 'war of the worlds' we beat the Martians. Hooray! And they have left us all these wonderful toys... And so it was that the Victorian end of the industrial revolution got an added push that transformed the fortunes of the British Empire into a steampunk past that never was. All well and good and life goes on. Then the bodies of women start turning up in the Thames and the hunt is on for a serial killer. The investigation leads to the powers who capitalised on the Martian technology and more...

Alas providing additional plot details would constitute a spoiler. What you need to know is that this graphic novel has three things going for it. First, it builds on one of the classic British SF stories of all time: H. G. Wells' The War of the Words. Second, the colourful inked artwork is simply beautiful: think of Herge's TinTin but far more detailed. Third, the hardback production with gloss art paper just tops it all off.

As said this is still in print. Those into SF comics and graphic novels will know all about this but I am betting that the average SF book reader and fantastic film buff would equally enjoy this number. So if you want to get a friend who is into SF, but not graphic novels, something they do not usually partake of then Scarlet Traces would make for a wonderful present.

Hugely recommended.

Jonathan Cowie

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