Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Absalom - Ghosts of London

Absalom is a 2000AD strip about a London police unit that deals with the paranormal. Written by Gordon Rennie, illustrated by Tiernen Trevallion, and lettered by Simon Bowland and Ellie De Ville. It originally span out of another series called Caballistics, Inc. and has recently been collected in a Rebellion trade paperback.

The central idea of a special police unit that deals with paranormal incidents is a familiar one which we have seen in the X-Files and Fringe. Recently the Doctor Who writer Ben Aaronovitch covered this territory in his Rivers of London books, and another Who writer Paul Cornell will venture into the same field in his forthcoming London Falling. What Absalom has that makes it stand out from this crowd is the central character.
Detective Inspector Harry Absalom is an unrepentant, hard as nails copper from the old school. Disreputable and shabby to look at, frequently sipping alcohol and morphine to control cancer pain, and always telling things like they are without any hint of political correctness. Imagine Columbo crossed with Jack Regan from the Sweeney with a bit of Van Helsing thrown in.

The paperback collects the original story Noblesse Oblige from progs 1732-1739 and the sequel Ghosts of London from 1765-1771, as well a one-shot story called Sick Leave that appeared in the Christmas special Prog 2012. Sick Leave filled in a little of Harry Absalom's history as well as dealing with his medical condition which I discussed in one of my previous medic-droid reviews. Rennie and Trevallion also fill the pages with in-jokes and references to other works which I am starting to annotate over on my other website. As ever if you can help out with any references then please email me.

I found the art on Caballistics, Inc. a bit too scratchy for my liking but Tiernen Trevaillion's work on this book is just fantastic. Likewise I am a big fan of Rennie's writing and his dialogue for Harry Absalom. Both tales are terrific, fast paced adventures which do what 2000AD has done so well over the years, namely introducing great characters in bizarre new worlds. The last new strip to get me this excited was Stickleback. Interestingly the two central figures do share some similarities.

Absalom is one of a host of interesting creations brought to us by 2000AD in the last decade. You can pick up a copy of this book on Amazon for under £8 and it's really worth it. 4 out of 5 stars from me.

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