writer: Len Wein
artists: Claude St. Aubin and Mostafa Moussa
Penny-Farthing Press first appeared on the scene, it was to
launch a quirky, quasi-superhero tale called The Victorian.
Within the industry, it seems to have caught a lot of attention.
The book has attracted some extremely talented (though perhaps
fallen from fan favor) writers and artists to tell creator
Trainor Houghton's story, the first two "acts" of which have
been collected in trade
paperback form. And this week, the third act begins, with
a new artist and a bold cover by the great Neal Adams.
admit that when the book first came out, I somehow got the
impression that it was a strange riff on the Superman mythos
set in the 19th Century. How this happened remains a mystery,
because I couldn't have been more wrong.
the seemingly super-powered "Victorian" preys on criminals
in modern-day New Orleans, injecting them with a serum that
forces them to turn themselves in and confess their crimes.
(Doc Savage almost had it right…) But this mysterious figure
is only one small part of a vast tapestry of strange doings
in the French Quarter and beyond. The story involves voodoo,
H.P. Lovecraft, a 19th Century secret order, finances, and
the real-life destruction of the submarine U.S.S. Thresher
in 1963. And somewhere back in Kennedy's Camelot, another
Victorian roamed Dallas.
the connection? All in due time.
sounds too complex, well, it may be. But it's also as intricate
and cool as the ominous clockwork toys that also have something
to do with the whole picture.
#14, released this month, does a decent job of recapping for
new readers. Still, there are revelations made here that will
have dull impact for someone unfamiliar with the story. Luckily,
so much of the mysteries remain that it still makes an entertaining
that the actual appearance of The Victorian is almost comical,
but it fits the slightly steampunk vibe of its origins. This
is no comedy.
it time and explore this world. Wein spends a lot of time
on characterization, fully realizing his cast. It may make
the story move a little slower (fourteen issues to reveal
the identity of the title character seems extreme), but it
does, after all, take place in The Big Easy. Things happen
at a different pace there. Every detail is worth lingering
St. Aubin and Moussa do a nice job with their end of the story,
too, but I'll admit I preferred the slightly quirkier work
of Jim Baikie in the Second Act. If there is a purpose to
changing artists with each act, it's not immediately clear,
but so long as the art remains decent, it's a very minor distraction.
Pick this one up, and then find the trade paperbacks. You
will be able to run with this issue, but there's a lot of
richness to what has come before.
Victorian as a series so far: