Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Steve Yeowell
Publisher: DC Vertigo/Titan Books (ISBN 1-84023-996-4)
'The Abbe, I'm afraid, has gone to meet his Maker. Hard to decide which of the two will receive the greater shock.'
The mot juste for this piece is louche. Accompanying qualifiers may include dashing, decadent, debonair and darling, for Sebastian O is an immaculately groomed, quick-witted rapscallion, who has seen more life in his late twenties than his entire generation. His generation, since you ask, is the late Victorian, where technology is a century ahead of its natural time.
If you're familiar with Brideshead Revisited, think of n-n-naughty Antony Blanche with the looks of Sebastian Flyte, or Oscar Wilde in the body of a blonde Adam Ant - in effect, the Dandy Bi-Way Man. Together with the Abbe (a portly old queen), Arnold Truro (lover and poet), George Harkness (female novelist) and scheming Mason Theo Lavender, he formed the Club De Paradis Artificiel which rejected the squalor of nature in favour of the art of the artificial.
When the story opens, however, Sebastian is imprisoned in Bedlam, asylum for the insane or the inconvenient, following an unspeakable act of betrayal. Sebastian, however, is not without his own resources, and embarks on a mission to inflict as much pain and as many bon mots as possible upon those responsible for his perilous predicament. Escaping The Crown, its lackeys, and its more perverse allies, however, will require physical finesse on a level with James Bond, wit of Wildean proportions, and several swift changes of perfectly pressed clothing.
Good job it's written and drawn by two distinguished gentlemen with the perfect skills for the job, then. Originally published during the nascent months of the Vertigo imprint more than a decade ago, this all-too-brief, mischievous little number, remains one of Grant's funniest works, and one of Steve's most attractive series. There's a three-page time line that teases you with its massive potential, and I couldn't possibly finish a review without mentioning the name 'Weirdsly Daubery', whilst regretting that we never got to meet him.
Fervently recommended for fans of Alan Moore's LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, and the TV series The Avengers. Those with subscriptions to The Chap can consider it homework.
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