The Golden Age of Pulp comics continues to be a rich source of inspiration for modern comic creators (from Gateway City to The Blue Flame), and the latest to try their hand at some golden age daring-do is Benjamin Morse’s We Are Scarlet Twilight. But can this pulpy adventure capture the spirit of the golden age, or will it get lost in the shadows.
Publisher: Lancet Comics
Writer: Benjamin Morse
Artist: Benjamin Morse
Price: Issue #2 coming to Kickstarter Soon
We Are Scarlet Twilight is one of those books which just draws you in from the moment you see it’s glorious cover with chiselled hero Captain Lancet posing over an Art Deco skyline. It just ticks all the boxes for a book like this and as you start to delve in further it ticks even more. You have a dynamic all-action hero, you have a sinister female villain, you have mysterious European royalty and you have gorgeously rich ’30s inspired locations – then you get a superb twist which we are going to do our best not to spoil here which send it to the next level!
It just all works, on so many levels. The character of Lancet starts off as a fairly traditional pulp hero in the style of early Batman or The Shadow, but Morse introduces a twist to make it into something much more interesting. He then picks apart the character’s essence and helps develop everything further, all the while telling a great rip roaring adventure. Lancet’s pursuit of the villainous Lady Satanika feels fairly traditional too, then it also gets turned on its head in the final act to set up a really interesting cliffhanger for issue #2.
Due to the nature of the lettering it feels as if the story is divided up into 3 chapters, and it’s difficult to know if this is intentional or a happy coincidence. However it means the pacing is spot on and builds to a crescendo just at the right moment, sometimes just before the break and sometimes just after, which really suckers you in and makes the most of each twist.
Visually it is a triumph and perhaps the strongest part of an excellent book. From that glorious cover, to the sublime vintage introduction and then on to the story pages themselves. Morse has a really classic style and his sense of design for the book evokes memories of the peerless Batman: The Animated Series as well as Andy Clift’s wonderful Captain Cosmic with it’s love of that time period. His linework has the cleanness of Steve McNiven or Stuart Immonen and his composition has the weight and grace of Alex Ross’ work in Kingdom Come or Marvels.
While there are the odd panels which don’t quite live up to those heady comparisons (those are high bars to clear!), it’s still a really high quality read and add to that some quality digital colouring, which isn’t over done and you get an absolutely gorgeous book that feels both vintage and very modern in equal measures.
We often bang on about originality and doing something unique in the world indie comics, and We Are Scarlet Twilight does just that. It takes well-worn genre tropes, gives them the reverence they require and are then turns them on their head to create something truly original. (But without undermining what makes them all great in the first place). A truly thrilling read!