Whilst I have no previous experience with Lore, the folklore podcast upon which this is apparently based, Wellington pitches itself as my kind of book. Alternative history with liberal horror and paranormal themes sounds like a winner to me. Ok sure, it’s not exactly novel given previous examples like Lincoln Vampire Hunter et al., not to mention the League, but the British angle definitely had me piqued.
Wellington, as the name suggests, focusses on Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Following the Napoleonic campaigns, Wellesley is a tormented soul. Despite the horrors he has seen and, for some at least, inflicted, his devotion to truth and perceived justice burns strong. Receiving word of strange Fortean events up north in Yorkshire, Wellington leaves the opulent, and most definitely strange surroundings of his Piccadilly town house to aid an old friend.
Upon reaching Yorkshire, Wellington finds himself in what he considers a fairly open and shut case until confronted with a cadaver that doesn’t rot, a Germanic speaking blackbird, and by a beast seemingly summoned from Hell itself. Nothing a bit of military officer experience and stiff upper-lip won’t face down, though…
On the surface there feels a little more than passing similarity to retellings of a certain story of hounds and consulting detectives. That’s a touch dismissive though as there’s a depth to be found here which owes a lot to the artistic direction. Indeed, the team of Piotr Kowalski and Brad Simpson have captured an old-worldly and other-worldly quality in every panel. With loads of lovely detail, it feels overwhelming where it should, and the depictions of the furnishings in Apsley house wonderfully capture a foreboding claustrophobic oppression despite the large roomy architecture.
Conversely, the open moorland is aptly bleak and captures a very different sense of creeping dread. There’s a couple of panels where the style seems to deviate a little, which seems at odds with the rest of the book, but I presume this may be for effect to convey the differences in surroundings better. The lettering I found a little tight in places, but I appreciate the intent and overall it flowed very well.
Unsure as to whether the character of Arthur Wellesley has been discussed on the podcast, there are a few details in the panels which I’m not sure are clues to a wider story or there to lend historic credence. Still, Wellington lives up to the pitch and is an enjoyable read. I can’t shake the niggling feeling that the character as portrayed feels too similar to stories of Sherlock as it stands, but I have high hopes that this limited run will deliver an intriguing story before it’s done.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster