The Alienist (pkgd. w/ JD Meg #427) – Gordon Rennie, Various

4 out of 5

Out of the many, many here-and-gone ideas Gordon Rennie has littered across his fantastic (and still growing and going!) career, The Alienist is one to which I’m most eager for him to return. It plays with one of his preferred setups of humans versus a spiritual world, but the spin on it here just feels so rich: Victorian England, with some type of interdimensional traveler – known as Miss Vespertine – stuck on our planet at that time and place. She needs to scoot about and protect the world from soul-sucking alien / demon types, but the times – they be no favorable to women. So she recruits an actor – a drunk – to play-act as her alienist frontman, foisting him as the lead into cases while she feeds him the lowdown and does magic tricks to save the day.

With artist Eoin Coveney, we only got two outings of this so far – a short intro piece and then a longer outing which has the duo battling, literally, a haunted house – and Coveney’s almost Gibson-esque, classic art is just the perfect match for Gordon’s dry tone + inventive antics… and I just want more. I dug this strip a lot when I first read it, and it’s great to have it collected here, however brief.

The docked star is just for the inconsistency of the rest of the strips rounding out this floppy, which bring together some Future Shocks and odds and ends, all drawn by Coveney. There’s one really great time travel tale, from Gary Simpson, but an early tale from my boy Rory McConville is a bit too narratively cluttered, despite a great Shock-y ending, and a concluding ‘Tales from Mega-City One’ from David Baillie is pretty humdrum.