By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Available to order on Amazon USA
Hopefully John Barrowman isn’t spreading himself too thin should he decide to co-author more comic book stories. I enjoy seeing him on screen and he’s a terrific entertainer. He played Captain Jack Harkness, an individual from a far off future who suddenly can’t age, in Doctor Who. Although unceremoniously dumped in the past, he bore witness to many events in Earth’s history, but for this character, he could not interfere!
In the webcomic Acursian (an Old English word defined as one consigned to destruction, misery, or evil by a curse) which he created with his sister, Carole Barrowman, he is Charlie Stewart, a man at odds with himself and his past. He’s intentionally made unlikable at first, but once you get to know him, there’s a redemption arc to enjoy.
This work is now available in printed format and sees this pretty boy in a challenging quest. The ideas the Barrowmans have for this work by showing where mythology and reality meet and what the Celtic world represents sated the anthropologist side in me.
This series ran from 2018 to early 2020, and it’s easy to miss unless one is following everything John’s is involved with. He loans his image to realize Stewart’s world. This lawyer thinks his high life is great. Well, that’s until he finds out his bloodline is cursed. Back in the 18th Century, Prince Charles Edward Stewart made a deal with Baregon, a fictional Celtic God of War and as a result, a curse has fallen upon the bloodline. The idea is Shakespearean, however some of these characters are not as widely known. For example, Macha is better known as one of three Celtic war goddesses. The name also refers to a triumvirate. I’m sure the Barrowmans dug somewhere to create this bad guy. In our world, Breogán is a Celt who “subjugated the warring tribes of Spain” and no doubt inspired the fictional character.
The story involves The Three Sisters–The Fates from many legends–and they want their talismans back. Not everyone is aware of the Matres, to which I think where these women are inspired from. They’re certainly not the witches from MacBeth but are equally powerful. Charlie’s more or less under their spell to correct all that’s going on with his life (before it tail spinned) in one heck of a time-travelling adventure! No, The Doctor is not involved, but I half wanted him to appear.
At first I thought I’d meet Mórrígan early in this tale and I found myself needing to reacquaint myself with the legends and lore of this culture before continuing. The read is long and it’s best handled in smaller units so the story can be appreciated. The narrative strays from time to time, so pauses are needed. It’s needed to make sense of what’s going on like a certain Time Lord. The book is needing a proper reread and I’m glad to see a print version exists to bookmark, flip back and forth so I can make sense of it all.