ADVANCE REVIEW: LADY BABYLON ISSUE ONE

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Review by David Ferguson

Written by Darrin O’Toole
Art by Alan Hurley

This is the second Darrin O’Toole book in a row that I have reviewed and, as with the previous book, I am going to start with a very impressive cover. The beautifully painted piece by Alann Hurley is broken by a stark white piece at the bottom. It brings to mind a painting in a gallery with the title and artist credits of the piece underneath. The font is very appropriate choice given the occult nature of the book.

The book tells the story of the romance of Leila Waddell and Aleister Crowley and what happens after they die. Waddell was an accomplished writer, magician, violinist and muse to Crowley who was a notorious English occultist, magician, poet and mountaineer. The first issue has a deceased Waddell narrating her story and sets in place where she, and the story, is going next.

I must admit I was worried about the art. It is beautifully painted and put together and I enjoyed the various work in progress I was seeing as it was going along (see my WIP with Alan Hurley for details). However, this is Alan Hurley’s first comic work and I was worried that the strory telling might be an issue. I will happily say I was wrong. Each page captures the tone and mood of the story and adds to a haunting feeling I got from the book. The story is reminiscent of an early Sandman story and the art of the Dave McKean on the covers but it is more horror than fantasy. There is also a Kabuki / David Mack vibe which comes from the book covering the strange journey of a female protagonist. That’s not to say that the book doesn’t stand on its own, the comparisons are just my way of imparting how the book made me feel. The story shares similar source material to one particular Sandman story and Alan Hurley has stated that David Mack is an influence. The art is a refreshing change of pace and more importantly fits the nature of the story being told.

In the end, the book covers a lot of feeling and emotion but there is a good story at the heart of it. I was wondering where Darrin O’Toole was going to go with this beyond the life story of the characters and am intrigued by the choices he has made.

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Darrin O’Toole will have issues on sale at DICE and he, and artist Alan Hurley, will be available to sign copies. You can also check out www.darrinotoole.com to order copies.