Milford Green: Prettiest Village in the British Empire, 1897

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Milford Green: Prettiest Village in the British Empire, 1897 – Samuel George London & Mikael Hankonenn (Milford Green)

Some stories can be summed up in a sentence and that’s certainly the case here. A Victorian comic with aliens, a young nerdy inventor and HG Wells.  Each of these elements is interesting in its own right but together it’s better. 

The Victorian setting is interesting for showing how life was different back then, yet some aspects are similar for instance George’s abusive relationship with Mary or the bicycle race through the street. The focus on the everyday life of Alfie with his disappointing inventions, unacquainted love and the father figure he finds in Mr Wells is a great story before the aliens even arrive. Alfie is someone everyone can sympathise with and it’s so rewarding to watch his journey from scared lonely young man to trying to outsmart the Cinux (evil aliens).

The idea that aliens can pass and receive knowledge by just touching someone’s head is a useful narrative tool. Not only does it save us from a lot of exposition but it shows how weak we are in comparison to the aliens. Even better it leaves the possibility that the aliens can choose what we see rather than revealing the truth which could make the upcoming second book more interesting. The Cinux are regrettably a bit cliché with their military personalities and their broken promise to offer riches for whoever finds the weapon they’ve searched across planets for. Fandalg (the good alien) is not alive long enough to make an impression but this does increase tension as he doesn’t reveal any weakness of the Cinux.

HG Wells on the other hand is portrayed as a wise old man who takes his time making any decision to the point he always boils a kettle before discussing anything.  His pipe smoking reminds me of Sherlock Holmes and there’s a reference to War of the Worlds there and no doubt other Victorian literary references for diehard fans.

My biggest gripe with the comic is the lack of dialogue and thought bubbles. The panels flow well but a bit of text would enhance the story like why are George and Mary arguing instead of just having exclamation marks. There’s other unanswered questions like what happened to Alfie’s parents and some dialogue in the streets instead of the sound effect chatter would make better use of the Victorian setting.

Art wise it’s an all ages comic so reminds me strongly of the illustration style you see in children books or TV shows. There’s simple shaped backgrounds for example the houses don’t have doors when the house are in the background. The art style isn’t my cup of tea really with the speech bubbles and thought narration bubbles square like which is something I don’t normally notice in a comic. There are advantages to this art style though in particular the eyes really stand out on each character and there’s an amazing use of colour.  The alien designs are different with Fandalg’s purple suction pads in particular being really unique and I’d love to see all the uses of these in the next story. As mentioned above there is a shortage of text in this story but the art make up for this so there’s no plot holes between panels.

Overall, there’s a lot of intriguing ideas in this story, a likeable hero and enough unanswered questions to make me want to read the next comic. There is a shortage of text which I’m hoping won’t be as much an issue in the next book. Art wise the style isn’t something I would normally read but it tells the story despite the lack of dialogue and there is a lovely use of colour which results in some wonderful panels. David Jenkins

Gardens, Galaxies and Goosebumps, David Jenkins debut collection of short stories, is due to be published at the end of July. Find out more about it, and him, here and here

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