26 March 2020

War of the Worlds

Spending a lot more time at home than usual is allowing me to hit my rather large comics backlog. I started with War of the Worlds.

The simple premise of the story is that the Martians from H. G. Wells' famous story, were not wiped out by bacteria and went on to win the war. A few humans remained free to fight them and Killraven was one of these.

I have several of the original comics in my attic (somewhere) but I had never read the full run before. It was always on my to-do list and I bought Killraven Masterworks Vol. 1 when it hit the ComiXology sales a while ago.

That 470 page volume included the 65 page Marvel Graphic Novel #7: Killraven: Warrior of the Worlds which I had previously bought a digital copy of to add to my existing paper one.

My driver to read the series was to enjoy the P Craig Russell artwork and this cover shows you why. It surprised me how much of the series had been drawn by other artists but as these included people like Herb Trimpe, Neal Adams and Gene Colan that was a bonus.

The story was constrained, as the helpful foreword explained, by not being allowed to end the War of the Worlds. The result was a series of encounters between Killraven and his small band with Martians and their human helpers. These encounters were fantastical and horrific with the Martians engaged in grotesque activities such as farming human babies for food.

The story telling style was very much of its time, early 70s, with a lot of text in addition to the dialogue. It was nice to revisit that style and I think that there is still a place for it.

What I had completely missed when first reading it was the racial sensitivities of that time and place, particularly the Deep South, and the first interracial kiss in comics was only allowed after much discussion at the highest levels within Marvel.

I liked the story and the way that it was written but, as expected, it was the art of P Craig Russell that I loved the most.

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