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The Blood Spider spins
on 19 February 2011
A little bit Philip Jose Farmer. A little bit Alan Moore. A little bit Grant Morrison. Tracking Al Ewing's influences in Gods of Manhattan would be worthy of a PhD. Set in a modern day parallel universe where history played out differently so that the world is run on steam instead of electric, Mr Ewing takes us into a version of New York that is a mashup of all the elements that define its pulp and super hero history with added kinkiness.
A vigilante called the Blood Spider, who references the Spider, Spider-man and the Shadow, visits bloody justice on Manhattan. His shoot first, don't ask questions policy is set to bring him into a collision with Doc Thunder, America's greatest hero who is equal parts Doc Savage, Flash Gordon, Superman and Captain America. Meanwhile Zorro-analogue El Sombra is searching for Nazis to kill, and his superficial resemblance to the Blood Spider draws him into a battle he may not survive.
This is a world of punkish Futureheads, of hidden Nazi criminals, of supervillains with malleable features, of jungle queens and simian reporters. And it is played with wit and panache and true love for the medium by a writer who is going to have a big impact on both comics and novels if his work to date is anything to go by.
There are a couple of story elements that feature word games that I guessed long before the story revealed the truth - I don't know if that was Al's intention, but it didn't really spoil my enjoyment of the twisty-turny plot.
It is all in all, the sort of literature that I am happy to pay good money for! More please!