HEART OF EMPIRE is the sequel to The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, one of the most influential works of British comics as well as being one of the
earliest adult graphic novels. Aesthetically, though, it is a direct
descendant of Talbot's later The Tale of One Bad Rat - the evocative
monochrome and incessant intense innovation of Arkwright replaced by the cool
pure clarity of Rat, the vivid colours and the spare, bold lines. He selects
minimally from his huge toolbox, time effects and crosscutting used in linear
flow, everything placed in service of telling the story as clearly as
possible while refusing to compromise mature complexity.
This is the story of Victoria, daughter of Luther Arkwright: Arkwright being
a posthuman agent of a perfect world who is capable of travelling between
parallel earths. Victoria's Earth and England is one which was dominated
into the late 20th Century by the Cromwellian Puritan regime. It was
Arkwright who helped destabilise that, along with Victoria's mother, who is
now a crazed Queen whose head is wanted on a most deserving block by at least
two different factions. What Victoria knows as a Golden Age is built on
madness and atrocity. And she has her own secrets, too; as Arkwright's
daughter, she is more than human...
While not as life-changing as Luther Arkwright, HEART OF EMPIRE is a rich work of science fiction, warmer and more human than its precursor, and it
superbly creates what I didn't think was possible: a necessary aftermath to
Warren Ellis has written around thirty graphic novels, comics, prose fiction, journalism, videogames and screenplays. Sometimes he take photographs. He also creates and co-creates websites, including this one. He has awards and stuff, he's been in big magazines and newspapers, and he's been published in Nature, which he always mentions because it makes him laugh. He's on the web at warrenellis.com and diepunyhumans.com.