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The Official Bryan Talbot fanpage / Heart of Empire homepage

Indy Magazine's review of Heart of Empire


This is a review of Heart of Empire by William Kenyon from the Indy Magazine: I simply HAD to reprint it here as it states the feelings that I myself had when I first read Bryan's work - but says it far better than I ever could....

I want to heartily recommend the Indy Magazine's site as an excellent place, with exquisite taste and truly visionary sensibilities when it comes to comics. The fact that I am reprinting this article without their permission (yet! - I hope) has nothing to do with this unstinting praise: put it this way: anyone who can like Bryan's work as much as William is OK by me.

Breaking news! - I have just received permission to reprint this article from William! So here's a public thank you to William and good ol' Indy Magazine!


First Impressions

Comic books are expensive nowadays. I kicked my Marvel habit a couple of years back and saved enough money to buy an engagement ring, a house, two cars and my honeymoon.

Okay, so I'm exaggerating. But for $1.99 and up, the days of buying a book for the hell of it are over -- at least for me. And for those kinds of prices, the book better deliver. Bryan Talbot's Heart of Empire not only delivers, it raises the stakes.

For a mere $2.95, here's what you get: Full color. Thick, impressive paper stock, all glossy, with a rigid cover that's resistant to having its "spine cracked." Cover art that is spectacular and interesting. Excellently and distinctively penned and inked art throughout, that always borders and often crosses the line into gorgeous. And most importantly, a whopping 35-page story with no ads.

Second Impressions (First Read)

The story elements are common in science fiction and fantasy: alternate universes, children of destiny, portentous symbols, secret cabals, alchemy, lost twins, vampirism, telekinesis. The way Talbot intertwines them is as original as possible and as good as it gets. Throw in healthy doses of historical reverence, political satire, eroticism and fart jokes, and add a few celebrity "cameos" and you have the makings of a science fiction/fantasy classic. In a comic book format, no less.

Without giving away too much (discovery is part of the fun with this book), the plot revolves around an alternate history of our world, particularly Britain, where the British Empire never diminishes, Queen Anne never dies, and Oliver Cromwell's Puritanical influence never fades. Unknown to the despotic Queen and her veritable planet of subjects, a catastrophic event impends, and may focus on her daughter Victoria, a willful woman of twenty-two who suffers from mysterious migraines and blackouts as well as the shadowy legacy of her missing father.

My only regret is that I've never read Talbot's past works, most published long ago before I read Dark Horse comics (yep - back in the Marvel days). Among them is the prequel to Heart of Empire: The Adventures of Luther Arkwright. I intend to find them and buy them.

Third Impressions (Second Read and Beyond)

Craft and thought went into every nook and cranny of this book. There are fake ads on the inside and back covers which add a definitive texture to the whole environment, deepening characterization and flavoring the setting. As a bonus, they're hysterical. There are subtle references and implications which add richness to the political intrigue, deepen the philosophical rationale and really make this book -- initially a colorful, riotous, fun and funny read -- into a thought-provoking manifesto more than worthy of a $2.95 price tag and a rave review.

Look! It has both.

And Bryan Talbot has a new fan.

William Kenyon



If you are interested in what other people have said over the years about Bryan's work, then check out the quotes page, with many comments from famous people both in the comics world and outside, and also check out what Comics International said about Heart of Empire, and also look at Popimage's review of Heart of Empire, and also their review of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright.

There is even a review of this site itself done by the Internet Magazine, (this is a large page because it contains a scan of an entire magazine page) and one by Comics International.

The whole of Heart of Empire - together with all pencilled and inked pages, 60,000 words of annotations by Bryan and the whole of the Adventures of Luther Arkwright is available on a CD-Rom for only 18 US dollars.



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