Wellington by Delilah S. Dawson, Aaron Mahnke, and Piotr Kowalski
IDW, pb, £10.67
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
The Duke of Wellington is the most decorated military history in England. He is also the country’s greatest monster hunter. A secret he has kept for many years until now. Told through a series of flashbacks, Wellington recounts to the journalist Joseph Drew the first foray into the arcane when an invitation to visit an old flame becomes an investigation into black magic and devilry. A man of logic, adept at battling mortal enemies, Wellington does not have the tools to handle this new kind of foe, but when and threatened, he must become more in to save his loved ones and country.
This alternate history tale about the Duke of Wellington’s secret life is a combination of Sherlock Holmes and folklore. There are no oversized dogs covered in phosphorous paint to scare the locals, the demons are real, and Wellington struggles to suspend his disbelief in order to fight back effectively.
Wellington is a bold protagonist. He is cold and distant from the people around him, with few emotional connections, instead driven by a sense of duty to protect his country. That sense of duty makes him a force of nature equal to the task if he can accept what he sees and is prepared to take a different path.
Kowalski’s art is glorious. Each panel is rich in detail and content you can get lost studying them. My favourites are the panels where we are reminded this is a memory. The black outline of Wellington and Drew sitting in comfy chairs is set in the foreground with the action continuing behind them to stunning effect.
The art style also grounds us in the time-period the action takes place in, the mid 19th Century just towards the end of the Georgian Era and just before the Victorian Era. The realistic portrayal of people, animals and buildings also adds to Wellington’s serious nature and his claims that he fought evil, not just wars. This is the first in a series as by the end of the book it is clear that Wellington has only just taken the first step on his path to becoming the monster hunter he claims to be at the beginning, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of it. Definitely one for fans of alternate history and the occult.