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Comic Book Review
It is 1874, at the height of Victorian England. Mycroft Holmes, genius and playboy, has found himself kidnapped at the behest of Queen Victoria herself! Thrust into the greatest quest of his young life, Mycroft is forced to battle a monstrous abomination in the bowels of Buckingham Palace, as a courtly conspiracy threatens the world with Steampunk weapons of mass destruction! With only his wits to aid him, Mycroft is soon set on a globe-trotting mission to reclaim the plans for the weapons – before they fall into more nefarious hands…!
The genre of Steampunk (to which this exciting comic belongs) owes an enormous debt to the imaginative writings of Jules Verne, one of the fathers of science fiction. His influence is acknowledged by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld in this issue, as it is explained to Mycroft that the Apocalypse Handbook came about as a result of a convention of futurists arranged by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Real-life literary pioneers named during a brief flashback sequence also include Jean-Baptiste Cousin de Grainville (author of The Last Man), Jane C. Loudon (who penned The Mummy!: Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century), Samuel Butler (of Erewhon fame) and Mark Twain. There are also one or two homages to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
In case you’re wondering why H.G. Wells isn’t on the above list, this story takes place two decades before the publication of The Time Machine – though that doesn’t stop Edward Bellamy’s 1888 utopian novel Looking Backward from getting a mention. And if de Grainville was at any of these meetings, then one can only assume that he had faked his own death, because by all accounts he committed suicide in 1805, just weeks after Disraeli was born!
Towards the end of this instalment, the action turns to the USA, the land of the authors’ birth, for some more gruesomely destructive attacks upon beloved landmarks.
Meanwhile, Mycroft Holmes continues to demonstrate his razor-sharp intellect, though sadly we don’t get to see for ourselves the clues that lead to his deductions about the whereabouts of some missing blueprints until he explains his reasoning to us. Part of the fun with detective stories is trying to work things out for yourself along the way. Fortunately, the big reveal at the end of this episode is signposted for those of us who do not merely see but also observe…