Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Never have I asked the Lord our God for much, for I never wanted to owe him."
Very wise, very wise.
"I feel his disapproving eyes on me, most days, and I fear his wrath.
"For it is sudden and it is awful."
My headmaster had a temper on him too.
Still, there are worse things in the world and indeed off-world as Captain Hawkherst and his not-so-merry men are about to find out.
It is early winter, 1333, in Europe, four years before the 100 Years War. The Captain's cadre are tired and hungry. Being war profiteers, right now times are tough and food is thin on the ground. What they desperately need - and are tempted to pray for - is for hostilities to erupt. They don't particularly care on which frontier for their loyalties lie only to each other. Be careful what you wish for.
Up in the sky they spy brand-new heavenly bodies: five oddly shaped stars dancing like diamonds in the night. They appear to be in formation. They are. But they are far from heavenly.
From the creators of NEW DEADWARDIANS which we loved so much we made it a Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month comes another historical mash-up, this time medieval in nature: aliens versus chain-mailed, human predators. I have my money on the aliens every time.
Crucially the aliens are indeed suitably alien in aspect, their otherness truly terrifying to Hawkherst, Galvin, Aelfric and co. The hardened veterans actually turn tail and run. They run and seek sanctuary in a mountain-top monastery, but its resident monks prove equally unnerving. Their faces hidden under cowls with but silver beards shining through, they say nothing. They talk to no one. And up in the evening's cold, obsidian sky something even darker approaches, blotting out the stars. Something darker and much, much bigger.
There's a stupendous final, full-page flourish from Ian Culbard (BRASS SUN etc.) after an already-chilling opening chapter, while Dan Abnett will put the fear of God into you. On so many levels as well.
Its dialogue is suitably sparse and direct, his superstitious soldiers pragmatic all the same. The language has been chosen carefully and lavishly laced with "bloody"s, plus there's a satisfying cadence to sentences like this, particularly its final clause:
"There are too many princes and kings who want a war won, but are coy with their purse strings when the bill for that bloodshed draws due."
As to his monks, one at least has a tongue as well as an ear and to one wall, for he has been waiting a while.
Whom do you think he is talking to?
Culbard has craftily based other elements of the alien invasion on medieval woodcuts of the devil and the opening shot to the final fourth chapter when those "demons" begin the final assault screams Steve Ditko at his most otherworldly, including the weapons they wield.
I confess that they final three pages currently confound me but the fact that I'm still left pondering them several days on says it all.