An all-action issue that sees antagonist and immortal Ayesha ramp up her plans and attack this league of extra-ordinary women. All beautifully and meticulously illustrated by Paul McCaffrey from a Lavie Tidhar script. We also get the rather shocking introduction of Queen Victoria, worried for Britain’s future. A Britain standing on the cusp of huge changes. Lavish, Victoriana/Steampunk action throughout.
After a good deal of mystery and movements under the covers of darkness, Adler #4 switches gears and offers readers an all-action issue. Ayesha (she-who-must-be-obeyed) makes her move and attacks the all-female crime-fighters gathered at Estella Havisham’s magnificent and lavish residency. A far cry from the childhood spent in the very gothic confines she shared with her mother Miss Havisham.
Needless to say even the ever-ready Irene Adler is taken by surprise in the turn-or-the-century romp through London and 19th century literature one again illustrated so magnificently by Paul McCaffrey who has found a true calling in such steampunk stories.
We get to finally meet with Queen Victoria, a woman at the end of her life by the time the 1900s was dawning and presented in the most startling and surprising of way here. But then, writer Lavie Tidhar does a mean line in reimagining historical and literary figures as is evident in this comic book series and his most recent novel, By Force Alone. A reworking of the Arthurian legend. I am still enamoured by his presentation of Estella Havisham, who is given her own happy ending in the life she has forged for herself since Great Expectations. A woman of independence and science and a great model of the century yet to come.
Looking to the future is a bit theme running through this book. While Ayesha represents a matriarchal society of the past, Adler, Estella et. al. also reprints the shape of things to come. Estella embraces the new technological age, as does Ayesha, who makes use of Tesla’s inventiveness to create the first atomic bomb. A weapon that would dominate the later part of the 20th century. And, as such, this is a book that presents a United Kingdom – and a world – on the brink of vast change and the dissolution of Empire too. Adler’s England is the one our ruling government dream about. A time when Britain ruled the waves and enslaves and exploited the countries they colonised. A past that has ben mythologised in both the literature of the era as it is today, in the same way the American ‘wild west’ was mythologies by the silver screen. Characters like Estella and Ayesha embrace this new age and a century that would finally see women gain far more rights than previously. Adler and her associates are representative of this new feminism. Sisters doing it for themselves.
The architectural and costume details McCaffrey fills this book with stands as a reminder of Britain’s wealth and grandiose self-belief of this era. It’s a lavish world we travel through and one can see why Ayesha would covert. An ancient force using modern tech to execute her plan. A plan she may well still be able to carry out as she once again remains just one tantalising step away from Adler and chums.
Adler #4 is out Wednesday 7th October from Titan Comics