War of the Worlds: Haven and Hellweed

    (Arrow, 2003)
™ and © Arrow Comics

Believe it or not, one of the coolest trends in comics right now is H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Alan Moore’s current League of Extraordinary Gentlemen mini is in part a loose retelling of Wells’ original novel; and Alan Davis’s imminent Killraven series from Marvel is a follow-up to the acclaimed 1970s series.

Less noticed is Arrow Books’ collection of this six-year-old Caliber Comics mini-series. Unlike one of Wells’ Martian spacecrafts, though, this series didn’t have much of an impact when it arrived. This was unfortunate, because writer Randy Zimmerman delivered a thrilling story about a pocket of resistance fighters in what remained of the American heartland. Like Marvel’s original Killraven series in Amazing Adventures, the Martians have returned to conquer Earth a century after their original invasion. But there are no super-heroics or fancy scientific advances to fight back with — just old-fashioned blood, guts, and fortitude against bug-eyed monsters in a well-crafted, pulpy story.

Penciller Horus adds horrific touches, not only with nasty, nightmarish Martians, but also with inventive and menacing interpretations of the aliens’ intimidating tripod walkers and other craft. And the apocalyptic scenes of once-pristine Kansas farmland, now infinite fields of maroon after being overtaken by Martian “hellweed,” are chilling, even though imagination is required, due to the lack of color.

This was a nicely done effort that deserved more attention the first time around. It’s to be hoped that, now that it’s part of a “trend,” this time it will get it.

— Jim Johnson

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