Let’s take a trip to the past; back to a time before you can hold the knowledge of millions at your fingertips. It’s the 20th century, and opposing schools of thought are growing. In Powers Fearful & Divine #1, the debate of science versus mysticism rages on, while scientists and artists are revered in equal measure. Now, the secret services enlist master escape artist Harry Houdini to investigate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But what exactly is he planning with the Spiritualist movement?
The team at Blue Fox Comicscreate an intriguing opening chapter in Powers Fearful & Divine #1. Writer Cy Dethan, artist RHStewart and letterer Nic Wilkinson provide a strong dose of historical fiction. Dethan blends elements of mystery and detective fiction, while introducing us to Erik Weisz, aka the famous Harry Houdini. I love the choice of introducing him via one of his famous stunts: escaping from being buried alive. I also enjoy the flashback scene to 1922, which highlights Houdini’s dedication to exposing frauds. In a short space of time, Dethan builds a strong picture of the man and his morals.
The main source of conflict in the comic stems from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his fellow spiritualists. As a member of the secret services informs Houdini – the Spiritualists expect an upcoming disaster to wipe out their enemies. Across the other side, scientist Nikola Tesla invents powerful devices and seeks to automate global warfare. He also observes the stars and even claims that “we are being watched”. Dethan introduces a lot of grand themes through these powerful figures, thus creating high stakes plot.
Even from the #1, it’s clear that Powers Fearful & Divine will have strong links to Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein. For example, the lightning strike in the opening pages and the mention of Ingolstadt which features in the novel. I’m curious to find out if we’ll actually see a version of Frankenstein’s famous monster though. Part of the plot features Houdini sending Conan Doyle to Bavaria as a red herring. However, will he actually find something on his trip?
Throughout the comic, RHStewart’s artwork really complements the tone of the story. The sepia tints visually ground the comic in its historical setting, alongside the fashion and styles worn by the characters. The burst of red in the background of the front cover suggests a hidden danger, and the magnitude of the growing conflict. When combined with the characters’ expressions, it adds a sinister air to the image. I also love the little details that RHStewart uses in the cover to illustrate the opposing ideals. The contrast of geometric lines and electric sparks with fairies and tentacles is great.
Overall, it’s a solid start, with the stage set for a clash of 20th century titans. What will happen next? Will the action take place behind the scenes of established events, much like an episode of Doctor Who? Will Powers Fearful & Divine create its own version of 20th century events? Either way, I look forward to reading the next chapters of the story.
Are you a fan of historical fiction? Which side of the debate would you support? You can find more information about Powers Fearful & Divine #1 over at Kickstarter. Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!
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