The Victorian:
Part II, Self-Immolation

by Len Wein, Jim
Baikie, Claude St. Aubin
(Penny-Farthing, 2002)

The young girl fidgeted by her boyfriend as the television announcer asked, "On a scale of one to ten with ten the best, what do you give that song?"

"A six. I liked the beat."

"What about the words?" asked the announcer.

"Words?" said the girl.

Yes, Buffy, songs and comic books have words. And I give The Victorian: Part II, Self-Immolation a six as well. That means it isn't great or terrible; it is one notch above average.

Reprinting issues 8-13 of The Victorian comic-book series, this volume has little to do with its title character. This enigma who lurks in the shadows of New Orleans, driving criminals into the arms of the law through "fear and small, serum-dipped darts," is seldom seen.

Counterfeit money, strange symbols, alligators and sharks are the backdrop for this series title with the detail, character development and pace of a novel. But not for a good novel, for its pacing is slow, and no sense of threat or urgency seems to drive anything.

Neither believable dialogue or visual pyrotechnics make up for a sluggish plot. Then again, Victorian doesn't offer visual pyrotechnics. The 11th collected issue shows a marked improvement over the better-than-serviceable art in the first four "chapters," and all of the artists add visual interest to the sluggish pace of the story by angle, scene changes and other staging tricks of the artform. But not much jumps off pages that were written to saunter.

Fireworks get boring when over-indulged, and jumping constantly is exhausting, so a good read in a comfortable chair is never a bad thing. It is, indeed, very Victorian.

- Rambles
written by Michael Vance
published 31 May 2003

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