If the female literary character of Adler,#2 by Lavie Tidhar and Paul McCaffrey are the League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen, then the forces that Ayesha is bringing together (‘She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed’ from the H. Rider Haggard novel, She, which I really do recommend you read) must be the Victorian equivalent to the Legion of Doom, as more and more familiar, and less familiar literary and historical faces are drawn to this demigoddess. Although, when Adler relates Ayesha’s sad story of being yet another victim Britain’s rapacious empirical expansion, especially prevent throughout the 19th century, you can’t help but feel she may have a good argument for bringing her grievance, and her fight, to the heart of the empire and England’s capital. A truly pompous, grandiose city engorged on the illicit wealth robbed and pillages from the they colonised. There is evidence of the wealth bought on the backs of other nations and to be seen on every street corner, especially the well-to-do neighbourhoods Adler, Jane (Eyre) and her chums frequent. Either that or I’m also falling under her spell myself?
It’s to McCaffrey credit, and his talents, that in a comic book full of strong female character he breathes life and a distinctive look to each character, which is most helpful given the number of costume changes that occur in this issue. Mainly from Adler, who seems to be a master of anything she turns her hand to, including 19th musical theater it would seem. His portrayal of Ayesha, for example (see, I told you I was falling under her spell) – here Queen of the Amazons – is stunning. A beautiful, powerful figure who would intimidate any room full pf powerful people, regardless of gender. Yet here, in a time when women were supposed to be seen and not heard, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed would put the fear of God up anyone, while they fell under her magical spell. A Valkyrie of the Victorian era, flanked by equally fearsome female guards.
It’s another roller coaster of a ripping yarn, that Tidhar keep moving at the pace. Adler, like Sherlock, doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and doesn’t waste a monist either. The result is a comic book that moves the narrative along while introducing. bevvy of new faces, sucha s Marue Curie, who we saw introduced at the end of the last issue. It certainly felt like a classic Victorian detective story with exquisite art to match. Looking at McCaffrey’s art in this issue, and the last, and I cannot help but sense the influence of Moebius and Richard Corben at times, especially when McCaffrey depicts scene set at night. His fine line work along with colouring his own art really gave me a feel for classic Metal Hurlant. It’s a look I’m sure Paul won’t mind reading either. And, as with his other Victorian-era epic, Anno Dracula: 1895 Seven Days in Mayhem, it’s the prefect fit. I’d love to see him do some more sci-fi at some point in the future.
By the end of this second issue, ‘She’ has most definitely risen to the top as the most dangerous threat in this series, brazenly taking action right under Adler’s nose. Ayesha has her League of Extraordinary Vagabond and the game, as they say, is afoot.
Adler #2 is available now from Titan Comics