Current Reviews


The Victorian #16

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2002
By: Craig Lemon

Writer: Len Wein
Artists: Claude St. Aubin (p), Mostafa Moussa (i)

Publisher: Penny-Farthing Press

I really hate the phrase "jumping-on point" when it comes to describing particular issues of comic books that are deemed to be an excellent way to introduce yourself to a series. Invariably they act for long-term fans as "jumping-off points" due to the rehashing of an origin, or laboriously over-scripted introductions to characters you've been reading for ages, and the whole thing comes across as a waste of time and money, causing one to reassess whether the book is actually worth continuing with.

I also hate books with no real sense of direction - open-ended structures with new creative teams usually less than eighteen months away to wipe out whatever was established in the current run, you know what I'm talking about. Of course, the problem with maxi-series is often that after the first couple of issues the whole thing is too bogged down in its own plot for anyone not with the book since #1 to make any sense of it. The longer the book runs, the less chance you have of picking it up...for example, has anyone actually bought a copy of The Filth issue six as their first look at that title?

And so to The Victorian #16, bravely billed as part sixteen of a twenty-five part series. And guess what? It's a good jumping-on point. Damn.

Let's get the other stuff out the way first, then I'll explain - it's a $2.95 full-colour, bright and nicely printed, foldout cover with bonus "pin-ups", good quality paper and cover stock - it's a lovely package, looks good throughout, no complaints there.

Storywise you may be rather reticent to pick up a twenty-five issue series 16 parts in, but here's the magic of this particular book - it actually works as a jumping-on point. This is my first exposure to this series, and I was worried that the huge cast of characters would make the whole thing feel too staccato, too many jumps of scene and characters to bear in mind - the first page reinforces this a little with the summary of the story so far being presented as a guy flipping coins into the air, each coin features one or more characters, accompanied by a text book summarising how far each of their stories has reached.

You hit the end of the page having forgotten what was first, and thinking "oh my god, what is hell is going on?" And then you hit the story proper and each little scene is coolly designed to have just enough background material in dialogue or captions to introduce the characters and their backstory, without hitting you over the head with it time and again. Finish the book and reread the first page and then the story again, and all becomes crystal clear.

So, an excellent intro to the series proper, and it looks like I might just have to get ahold of those first two trades to catch up...

What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!