Current Reviews


Albion #5

Posted: Monday, May 29, 2006
By: Mark J. Hayman

"How I Wrote Elastic Man (The Era of Spin)"

Writer: Alan Moore (plot), Leah Moore & John Reppion
Artists: Shane Oakley (p), George Freeman (i), Wildstorm FX & Tony Aviņa (colors), Dave Gibbons (cover)

Publisher: DC Comics / Wildstorm

Anyone reading Albion with even a passing familiarity with British comics must be geeked right out of their gizzard. Though my experience is strictly vicarious, I still get little tingles of nostalgia, for which the creative team deserve an ovation.

This penultimate chapter gets up close and personal with The Spider, allegedly (some would say inarguably) the greatest villain the other side of the pond has produced. As Eagleton and an increasingly frustrated and volatile Nolan question him about the Brain's predictions of disaster, we're reminded that The Spider is foremost a creature of intrigue, where his simplest replies are... spun, whether for his own amusement or because he is by nature incapable of telling the whole truth. Under the circumstances - strapped to a chair with a pair of machine guns trained at his head - he might have been better off not baiting Nolan with gems like his "real" name (Arthur O'Pod - you do the math).

As The Spider spins his tale, Penny, Danny and company draw closer to the castle, first by ship aboard the Buoyant Queen (note to letterer Todd Klein: bee-ewe-oh-why, not bee-oh-ewe-why) and at last by the now fully dirt-worthy Earthworm. While the banter between the Captain and Bert, his mate, was kind of lost on me, their brief chat succeeded in casting them as both stalwart and pragmatic, exactly the sort of blokes one wants waiting behind the lines for the inevitable escape. Penny doesn't have a great deal to do this round but another, er, penny is dropped concerning Danny's enigmatic history, while Charlie Love clearly has the bit between his teeth... all right. Employing Robot Archie as a diversion ("Archie does not like being modified") while our trio bore into the bowels of the castle, is rather clever, and culminates with a final page reveal that, while impressive to a layman, will no doubt pop the tops off of Brit Comix enthusiasts. That they'll be walking into a waking nightmare featuring a now seriously agitated Captain Hurricane ("Great blistering bags of half-cooked cod kidneys!") doesn't bode well for the plan, presuming they have a plan, which they don't. Okay, they're in, the rest is improv.

Oakley and Freeman turn in yet another near masterpiece. It's easy for such an impressionistic approach to fly off the rails to the point where the reader is left rubbing his eyes in an effort to determine what's going on from one panel to the next. Not here. Every line, every brushstroke is both thoughtful and meticulous, brilliantly enhanced by the moody colour palette. Visually this is the antithesis of Cassaday or Hitch, emotionally and intellectually they're very much cut from the same cloth.

Albion is fun. Albion is joy. Go read Albion, have fun and enjoy.

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