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Necronauts

Posted: Sunday, November 9, 2003
By: Alan Donald



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Writer: Gordon Rennie
Artist: Frazer Irving

Publisher: Rebellion

I enjoyed this when it first appeared in the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic (2000AD #2000, #1223-1230) but the weekly breakdown meant that it didn’t light my fire as much as I thought it should. As with all 2000AD graphic novels I’m always a bit worried about how it will work in the collected format. It is bad enough; after all, that every 22 pages in a big American graphic novel everything gets a bit disjointed and repetitive in a 2000AD collection it can be every 5 pages that this happens! You will be glad to hear that this doesn’t suffer from this at all. In fact I’d say that this is far superior as a collection than it was in the original format. The story flows naturally at a good pace and remains gripping throughout.

The most obvious comparison that will be made is between this work and Alan Moore’s ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’. There are clear similarities both are set in a similar time period collecting together famous people from that period to battle a great evil. LoEG focuses on fictional characters such as Moriarty whereas Necronauts focuses on real people such as Moriarty’s creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (as well as H.P. Lovecraft, Harry Houdini and Charles Fort) as well as taking a far more supernatural bent than LoEG.

Frazer Irving is an artistic chameleon changing his style to suit the demands of the story (but unlike some he maintains his chosen style throughout that story so you always know who everyone is). Superficially Fraze’s style on this series is similar to his current Judge Death work in the Megazine but this is only superficial. Like his Judge Death work this is very dark, horrific and gothic but it utterly lacks any of the camp overtones that that work has and instead is a far, far more atmospheric, chilling and experimental piece of work. In short, it is perfect for this tale.

Gordon Rennie is a great writer who has yet to really make the big time in the States, which is a real shame. Necronauts is easily one of his best pieces of work and this is the sort of collection that should get him noticed. The story here is simple enough: Harry Houdini plunges too deeply when meditating and awakens the Elder Gods, they then begin to follow him back to our world. Sensing the danger Charles Fort, HP Lovecraft and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are drawn to Houdini’s side. A battle then commences on both the spiritual and physical plane… simple, see?

This is a great story packed full of great moments and several little touches that make re-readings fun. Also included in this collection is a nice little sketchbook section from Frazer Irving. If you are interested in buying any of Frazer’s art work then contact me via The Panel and I’ll let him know, goodness knows the Eastern European country he’s a refugee in at the moment could do with the money ;-).

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