Review: Absalom

Published On September 18, 2012 | By Joe Gordon | Comics, Reviews

Absalom : Ghosts of London

Gordon Rennie and Tiernen Trevallion

2000 AD/Rebellion

Meet Detective Inspector Harry Absalom; Inspector Morse he isn’t. Old Harry is a bitter, tough as old boots copper with a very special beat – the supernatural and demonic and the bloody odd (with an emphasis on ‘bloody’). This isn’t some sort of X-Files inspired law enforcement agents deal with bizarre cases though, oh no. Harry’s department is above even the Special Branch or the anti-terrorism units; the people he answers to are the people, as he so charmingly puts it, that even the senior politicians and civil servants pee themselves in fear when they hear their names. This is a Britain a little different from the one we know, following the capture of a real, live demon in the 16th century, a deal is struck between the throne and Hell, which, as was the fashion for treaties of those days, was cemented by inter-marriage – several of the noble houses of Albion and the infernal regions have inter-married and inter-bred to increase their family power and influence. You think the Old Boy network is bad for hidden influence and string pulling to direct affairs of state? Imagine when many of those old boys are ancient half-human, half-demonic creatures of huge power.

Some are well-behaved, at least in public, and seem human, others are simply a Hellish mess, inhuman and uncontrollable, locked away in a secure countryside facility, others sometimes push their influence further than is allowed. And then in comes Harry, the copper charged with policing The Accord and quite delighted if that involves smashing the face of some part demonic upper class ponce. Joined by a newly transferred officer, Jemima Hopkins, we follow Harry on a series of increasingly desperate events, from small scale (mind reading tricks by low life to steal PIN numbers, a new angle on identity and credit card theft) to escaped demonic inmates from the rural facility, right through to a fracturing of history that sees pivotal scenes from the history of London spilling into the present – pursuing a villain down a street they find themselves in the middle of the Great Fire, severed heads are found in the Thames, but rather than a single murder there are thousands, and all Roman, those killed by Boudica…

It’s a world populated by grotesques where nothing is quite as it seems (Harry himself has a hidden past involving something bad happening to his family and a cancer eating at his body while a diseased doppelganger taunts him, unknown to his team), Jemima, the up and coming high-flyer has her own secrets and those who oversee and direct the team also have their own agenda. The art by new talent Tiernen Trevallion is superb and stylish, perfectly suited to the mood of Gordon Rennie’s series, while Rennie not only turns in a cracking set of tales and neatly builds up interest in the characters, he develops a feeling of far more going on behind the scenes, waiting to be explained in later tales, while also delighting in lashing out plenty of cynical, deeply sarcastic dark humour, gleefully taking swipes at pop culture and class issues. For me Absalom falls somewhere between its brilliant 2000 AD stablemate Stickleback and Mignola’s Hellboy, and believe me that is high praise. More of this, please.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon

Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk’s chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

One Response to Review: Absalom

  1. Zainab says:

    Beat me to this, Joe! Funnily enough, Stickleback was the first thing that came to my mind too. Wish Ian Edginton would write a follow up, that first trade was left nicely poised.