“P.G. Wodehouse meets H.P. Lovecraft”

This is how the 2000ad shop describes Ampney Crucis Investigates, and it’s a pretty accurate, if a little oversimplified, description of Ian Edginton’s most recent contribution to the Galaxy’s Greatest.  The eponymous Ampney Crucis was one of the rising stars of upper class society, before an encounter with a monster from beyond the universe during the Battle of the Somme, sent him temporarily insane. After recovering from his nightmarish experience, Crucis finds that he is sensitive to the presence of other entities from beyond our own reality. It’s a nice concept for a strip, and one that has the potential to run for a long time. And if the strips continue to be as good as the two collected in this trade, then I hope it gets the long run it deserves.

The first story, Vile Bodies, is pretty much the perfect introductory story. Within the first six pages we find out who Ampney is, what happened to him in the past to make him what he is now, as well as a brief glimpse of what this story will be about. Thats pretty impressive to cram all that into just six pages. Vile Bodies then continues as Ampney and his loyal butler Cromwell do battle with human/bee monsters, and a gigantic god like plant creature. The latter part of this story wheres its Lovecraftian influence on its sleeve, recalling in particular Lovecraft’s novella “At the Mountains of Madness” when describing the origins of the plant god. Towards the end Edginton manages to tie Ampney Crucis into the same universe as his previous “Leviathan” strip (surely some day we have to get a proper cross over story for all of Edginton’s 2000AD strips). Vile Bodies is as good a first story as your likely to come across but it would mean nothing if the following story didn’t live up to it.

Fortunatly the second story, The End of the Pier Show, is just as good as Vile Bodies. Recieving a letter from a long dead comrade, Cromwell convinces Ampney to visit a sea side resort where the dead are returning, by taking over the bodies of the living. Lots of blood and gore in this one, as well as one of the most bizarre looking monsters you are ever likely to see. Its another fantastic story from start to finish, although the end does feel perhaps just a tiny bit rushed.

A real stand out feature of this trade though, is the art of Simon Davis. Davis is one of my favourite artists to have ever worked for 2000AD, and if its big, ugly, insanity inducing monsters you’re after, then he is the man to go to. His style of art is totally unlike any other artists that I have ever seen, and even his colouring and page layout is beautiful to look at. He also seems to enjoy drawing naked people as often as he can in any given strip, although fortunatly its mostly women this time around, as oppose to what we saw in Stone Island.

Ampney Crucis Investigates comes highly recommended. Not only is it one of the best strips Edginton has written, it is also my personal favourite new strip to have appeared in 2000AD for a long long time. If you haven’t read any Ampney strips before then I can promise that you won’t regret getting hold of a copy of this trade. If you like H.P. Lovecraft then you’ll like this. If you like Horror strips then you’ll like this. If you like the 1920s as a setting then you’ll like this. If you like comic strips then you’ll love this. So what are you waiting for, go and buy a copy at once. Its a must have for any Gentlemans (or womans) comic book collection.