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The Official Bryan Talbot fanpage / Articles

Warren Ellis reviews
Heart of Empire


This review of Heart of Empire was added to the site on 18/5/03 and was originally published on the Artbomb site.

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 Arkwright.

-- Warren Ellis

Also take a look at Warren's review of the Adventures of Luther Arkwright, and the Artbomb site where this was originally published. For more articles and interviews check out the articles page, and to see what other people have said about Bryan's work see the quotes page. Heart of Empire, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and the Tale of One Bad Rat all have their own homepages on the site.


The design and content of this page and this entire website is copyright 1999, 2006 by James Robertson: all images are copyright 1999, 2006 by Bryan Talbot