Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Builder's term for hitting something with a hammer until it goes in."
Paranormal investigative fiction in which we return to where we began: the British Isles
Specifically, we return to the rugged land of barrows and tors, stone circles and moors; of ley lines, megaliths and pre-Christian pits; of spriggans, diviners and cunning-folk. It's the supernatural as science, the very ancient decoded by the most modern.
Information is everything, and everything is information.
Previously in INJECTION: five experts in diverse disciplines led by Professor Maria Kilbride were given funding by the FPI to cross-pollinate, think outside the box and do stuff.
They did stuff: they poisoned the 21st Century.
They did it with an Injection, and now they discover that both they and this planet are far from immune from what the Injection's become.
"Everything from this point on is sketchy, okay? Every second is like you're in the middle of making a deal that's going very bad very fast. You know how that feels. Watch everything."
Technologist Brigid Roth is tasked by Moira Kilbride of the FPI to investigate signal interference in Cornwall resonating from a stone ring on Mellion Moor uncovered following an earthquake and landslide. Chained to one of the standing stones is the remains of a dead body, skinned and boned. Beneath its central stone they discover what appears to be a massive, slab lid. Would it be wise to lift it?
When Brigid seeks information from local lore expert Professor Derwa Kernick, she appears to oblige with legends that suppose the circle to be a gateway to the Other World. Underneath, in a pit, criminals were chained and in the morning they would be gone. Any mechanism for this, she suggests, must have been lost in our oral tradition. So what happened to the man on the moor chained to the stone circle?
The tension's kept caught by the constant reiteration of the deal-about-to-go-wrong warning exchanged between Brigid and rich kid Emma Louise Beaufort whom Brigid selects spontaneously as her driver and back-up based on her past (instantly uploaded from the FPI's extensive, privacy-flouting files) for drug-dealing, robbery and assault. Emma's role in many ways is as a Doctor Who companion: someone who observes, questions and panics easily - someone whose safety one worries about - while Brigid inventively (and dangerously) improvises with the most modern technology available today. As you'd imagine from the writer of PLANETARY, the dialogue is ever so satisfyingly slick.
In keeping with the old and the new, Brigid also comes equipped with an female-empowering Sheela na gig around her neck that is far from cosmetic and which, combined with her contact lenses, allows her instant access to all the message traffic of a computer connected to social media and more. It's something Ellis floated in DOKTOR SLEEPLESS and which Sheean and Ward used excellently in ANCESTOR. Once more, however, Ellis doesn't eschew the ancient, like the legendary notion that iron acts as a magic repellent. Pedal to the metal, as they say around race circuits.
As to the line and colour art - for which Bellaire won the Eisner last year, right here - the fog which shrouds Mellion Moor and its environs is phenomenally effective, there are moments of pure, sinew-shredding horror during which Shalvey reminded me of Kevin O'Neill, while during several key climaxes you will be treated to an ancient, tree-stone cathedral of light erupting in the night.
It's but a herald of what is to come.
Incursions are increasing. The Other World of Old England's coming back.
And it'll only give the Injection more room to manoeuvre.
Basically this: we're fucked.