Black ’47

Black '47

When I think of Irish history and the travails of the Irish people, I can’t help but want to repurpose what Porfirio Díaz allegedly said about Mexico: “So far from God, so close to Britain.”

The history of English, and later British, rule in that green isle is suffused with cruelty. Ireland has been described as Britain’s “laboratory of empire”. Ben Kiernan, author of Blood and Soil: a Global History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (2007), and the chair of the Genocide Studies Department at Yale, argues that there was a certain genocidal logic in Ireland that preceded what the British, and later Americans, did to the indigenous peoples of North America and Australasia.

The most infamous British atrocity is the Great Irish Famine, sometimes called the Irish Potato Famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1852. Black ’47 takes place in what is said to be the worst year of this catastrophe.

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Lady Mechanika, Volume 6: Sangre

Lady Mechanika, Volume 6

Lady Mechanika‘s sixth volume (chronologically the seventh), Sangre, disappoints and delights.

As always, the storyline is fantastic. The supernatural theme from Volume 5 (review here) is continued, but with a whole other manner of creature on the opposing side. You don’t need to have read the previous volume to understand the events of Sangre, although I recommend reading the chronologically first story of the series, La Dama de La Muerte (review here).

This edition switches between prologue events taking place 500 years before the story of Sangre, drawn by Joe Benitez and Martin Montiel, and the main storyline, drawn by Brian Ching.

Ching is by no means a bad artist. Its just that he’s not in the same league as Benitez and Montiel. And it shows. You see some of the story’s antagonists in the prologue, and they are much cooler; Lady Mechanika is so much more stunning. Their art is just better.

It’s disappointing, after six volumes of a beloved comic starring a much beloved character, to see the world and its inhabitants portrayed in a different manner that isn’t as pleasing as the original. But that is my only gripe.

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Lady Mechanika, Volume 5: La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Lady Mechanika, Volume 5: La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Lady Mechanika returns for a search into her mysterious past. This time, she finally has a few resounding clues thanks to the help of her close friends and allies, Archibald Lewis and Inspector Singh. As was to be expected, the search is difficult at best and perilous at worst. To top it all off, Mr Lewis finds himself in a spot of mortal trouble.

The chronological sixth volume in the series does not disappoint. The art, which has always been stunning, gets even more beautiful in this one. The new villains are splendid, as are the recurring characters. The story is magnificent and I personally can’t wait to see where it goes next.

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The Alienist, Season 2

The Alienist, Season 2

Dr Lazlo Kreisler and his friends (most of them anyway) return to search for a sinister killer of infants in turn-of-the-century New York.

Much like Season 1 (our review here), sordid affairs hidden by members of the upper class and the — often corrupt and incompetent — police are a big part of the setting and storyline. Unlike Season 1, this does not meet expectations, which, after a strong start, were incredibly high.

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Dexter & Sinister: Detecting Agents

Dexter & Sinister: Detecting Agents

This story takes place in Hammersmythe, where the rich are rich and those that aren’t struggle to make their way in life. One of the latter is John Sinister, down on his luck and sleeping on his sister’s couch.

Until he is asked by a wealthy family, whose children he used to be friends with, to look into the death of their eldest son. Determined to get to the truth about his friend’s death, John sets out on a chase involving murder, espionage, mechanical marvels and… a talking cat!

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Out of the London Mist

Out of the London Mist

One of the first things that struck me about this book is how apropos its title is: running through the entire novel is an all-consuming sense of dread brought out by what is best described as magical fog. It’s not hard to visualize the characters wrapped in clouds, appearing only in fading silhouettes as they walk through this darkened recreation of Victorian London.

Out of the London Mist, by Lyssa Medana, succeeds in its atmosphere, a steampunk London of the more fantastic variety. It’s a world where all things are permeated by an omnipresent aether, which powers airships. The aether can also be used to power other things, and it is one of those other things that drives the plot of the novel. The characters are an interesting assemblage of people from different parts of this version of London, including nobles and thieves, adventurers and mechanics.

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The Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark

The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark

The second of the in-between, or “B”, chapters in Keno Don Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark (1998) takes place immediately after young Scrooge’s first American adventure in The Buckaroo of the Badlands (1992, annotations here).

Having left the employ of the Scottish-born Montana cattle baron Murdo MacKenzie, Scrooge is shipping two Texas longhorns aboard the famous Cutty Sark to the Dutch East Indies, where he will witness the eruption of Krakatoa.

The plot came easy to Rosa. Having decided he wanted Scrooge near Krakatoa in 1883, he discovered that the greatest sport on Java, the main island in what is now Indonesia, at the time was the annual Madura Island bull race, or karapan sapi. The Cutty Sark really did make a voyage to Australia for wool in 1883. There is no record she made a side trip to Batavia (now Jakarta) that year, but, writes Rosa in Volume 8 of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Don Rosa Library (2017), “prove that it didn’t happen, I dare ya’!”

Less easy was drawing the Cutty Sark, with its tens of thousands of square feet of sail and its ten miles of lines, in every other panel…

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