Okay, so let’s give you a little background before I dive into the review.
Set the scene, so to speak.
If you’ve read any of my previous blog-posts, you may know that I’m a certified geek head with comic credentials coming out of my arse. To recap though, for those that haven’t dipped their proverbial toes into my blog-post waters, here’s a little recap.
My intro to REAL comics (other than the Beano and the Dandy!) was when I (my mum) bought my first Spiderman comic book back in 1982. I was eleven years old. I still have the comic book that started it all in my collection…
From there my tastes rapidly grew. My pocket money went into any comic I could lay my hands on. Started with the Marvel UK ‘Transformers’ comics, which were awesome (and far far better than the US equivalent), before graduating into 2000AD (more on this later!). I could get these from my local newsagent, but when I was old enough to start venturing further a field solo (or with my friends) my world opened up exponentially!
My friend Phil, and I, would hop onto the train from Longbridge to Birmingham New Street and in the city centre we found this…
Nostalgia & Comics is still there, it now trades under a different name – Worlds Apart…I’m still not happy about it! It’s not the same as it used to be. I understand it had to move with the times, but it lost some of it’s charm when it was refurbished. I mourn the giant Batman Returns poster… But I digress.
This was my gateway to the addictive drug that was Marvel and DC.
X-Men was my drug of choice, but I also collected Deadpool, Batman, Batgirl, Superman, Fantastic Four…and so many more. I still have many of them to this day. That addiction persisted for decades, until I stumbled across a book called POWERS.
POWERS is the story of a pair of cops who live in a world full of superheroes and investigate superhero related crime. It was AWESOME.
And it was published by IMAGE comics.
This was my first foray into a world outside the big two. From there I didn’t look back. My books of choice are now all outside the Marvel and DC stables, and predominantly in the IMAGE arena.
If you check out these previous blogs, you’ll see what I mean:
Half of them are from the Image catalogue.
Why? Well because I feel they take more risks and tell more interesting stories than the big two. It’s a personal opinion, but that’s why.
Anyway, it’s time to add another independent logo to my collection watchlist…
My introduction to WILD RIVER COMICS was one of those lucky flukes!
I’d been chatting with my friend, Samii Jinx, about using her image (she’s a fantastic model! You can find links to her on my LINKS page!) as a reference for a character on the cover art for THE SCORCHED SKY. She did more than agree to be a reference, she went above and beyond and helped me craft the character of Kasai AND actually use her purty face for the cover. For which I’m eternally grateful.
Samii is a very talented woman with many many strings to her bow. Cosplayer, model, AND Community Engagement Manager at Wild River Comics. Though it has to be said that mostly seems to consist of torturing her colleagues on camera, and scaring the pants off us with ghost stories on TIkTok and Instagram. LOL
The minute I found this out, my comic radar was well and truly up! I took part in their recent (and VERY successful) Kickstarter and today I received the first issue of their flagship title – Daughters of Albion.
SPOILER FREE REVIEW
I honestly DO NOT want to spoil the read here. I want you to go buy the book yourself and walk into the story pretty much cold. It’s worth it. What I’m going to do instead is give you my impressions of the book.
I’ll start with the art.
The whole look and feel of the book reminds me a lot of those old 2000AD comics I used to buy (I confess I haven’t purchased a copy in a long time now! Sorry!). Many of those old 2000AD stories were kind of dystopian, and many were rendered in beautiful painted colour. Unlike US comics of the time that had that sort of dot-matrix effect or were digitally shaded in blocks, the 2000AD stories from the likes of Simon Bisley looked like they were hand painted. Go google Simon Bisley Slaine and you’ll know what I mean.
Where the Marvel and DC stuff could look quickly mass produced, 2000AD had this look and feel of quality about it. Like time had been spent rendering these characters.
I mean, take this cover art of my favorite 2000AD character of all time… ROGUE TROOPER
Now, compare that to a sample of the art on the back cover of the first issue of DAUGHTERS OF ALBION…
See what I mean?
DAUGHTERS OF ALBION reeks (in a good way!) of quality from every angle. It’s beautifully drawn, beautifully painted, beautifully presented and the paper it’s printed on is THICK! It FEELS good in your hand.
I don’t know how long the art/lettering team spent creating this book, but Matt Timpson, Marko Lesko, and Jim Campbell can be VERY proud of their work here. They knocked it out of the park!
And then, of course, there’s the writing.
Denis Phan and Beanie White have crafted an intriguing story of magic, murder, mystery and… damn, I ran out of things beginning with M. It’s all set in an alternate London where magic and technology overlap, and follows a cyberpunk hacker named Hashani (and her cool as fuck robot companion, Bee!) as she gets pulled into a mystery surrounding a magical amulet,
What I really liked about this story, is that it feels…familiar. Not in the story itself, but the setting. Yes, it’s a new alternate London, but there’s enough connective tissue to our own London to make the setting seem familiar. For instance the look of the police. They’re just familiar looking enough to make any Brit reading it completely at home, even though they dress slightly differently and have tech we obviously don’t.
See for yourself…
The traditional bobbies helmet. The Police font. The colourscheme. The stop sign.
All quintessentially British!
The book is written that way too. It feels like a slice of Britain. This doesn’t seem like a book that could have been written and published in the US. It’s old school in a good way. Like the very best stories 2000AD had to offer. Indeed in someways this feels like something from the Judge Dredd canon. I could easily imagine this as BritCit. The cops have this almost oppressive feeling to them, from the futuristic billboards that Hashani enjoys vandalising, to the sheer number of police drones that seem almost ever present.
This all plays directly into my wheelhouse.
Anyway, my verdict is…
I, for one, can’t wait for book 2.
Before I go, I’d just like to also do a shout out to the aforementioned Samii and Beth Laterza.
These two run a MEAN social presence on all manner of Social Media platforms. Their content is fun, informative, and keeps you coming back for more. PLUS, they engage in the comments. They make WILD RIVER COMICS feel like a little comic book company that cares about its readers and its community.
Makes a HUGE difference.
Thanks from this grateful fan.
Love & Books