For a purely visual medium, comic books rely heavily on the use of sound. The 1960s Batman TV series exemplified this best, taking the noises depicting a fight, and making them jump out of the television screen, with every single pop art-style “POW!”, “BIFF!”, “BAM!”, et al.
Who could forget that priceless moment in The Incredible Hulk #300, where the Jade Giant swats away a car hurled at him by Thor, with a loud “BATHROOM!”? Or where Captain America throws his mighty shield in #366 of his own comic, striking a foe with a resounding “WANK”? Granted, both of those are maybe not the finest examples of onomatopoeia, but they do help demonstrate the importance which sound effects play in setting a scene or mood.
READ MORE: I Feel Love – Graphic Novel Review
Issue #3 of Lytton assails you with sound and noise during the course of this latest chapter, artist Barry Renshaw’s use and careful placement of stylised lettering bringing to life the arrival of an alien vessel, the roaring approach of a Tube train, and the ingress of an inhuman horde of killers, along with many other action packed moments. The captions are as much part of the story as the characters, with Renshaw’s work here giving us something of a masterclass in just how to use them to best effect.
Eric Saward’s script also offers Renshaw an opportunity to truly flex his artistic muscles, with the latest issue taking us from an abandoned Underground station into the tunnels themselves, then to a confrontation in a supermarket’s car park, through a mysterious vortex, and into a catacomb. If Renshaw is being paid by each location he has to realise, he definitely earns his money’s worth here, and he manages to make them all feel believable, going from cramped confines to wide open spaces, and then back again.
His interesting colour palette also helps set each scene, with his mix of greens, yellows and blues giving way to the rather oppressive dark red used to invoke a sense of claustrophobia and danger whilst Lytton, Wilson and Artemis are exploring the tunnels. Over a glorious three-page sequence, we get a psychedelic colour splash, giving us the otherworldliness of the vortex through which our characters all find themselves travelling, as well as reflecting a sense of momentum as the fractal landscape shifts around them.
Renshaw’s style is perfectly suited to the role of bringing the world of Lytton to life, giving an off-kilter feel to things, in a story where gangsters and crime not only sit right alongside SF, but also very frequently overlap, meaning that he has the unenviable task of presenting us with an authentic-looking London of the 1970s, but also depicting the more fantastical elements in tandem. You also have to admire such touches as the destination shown on the front of a Tube train, in a lovely and subtle nod to a classic piece of TV sci-fi.
As with all of the previous issues, if you purchase direct from those awfully nice Cutaway Comics people, you will also get a bonus disc chock full of extras. This time round, we have a newly recorded, exclusive audio commentary track created for Saward’s Doctor Who Cyberman adventure, ‘Earthshock’; a video commentary by Saward and Renshaw, looking at this issue; an archive interview of Gangsters writer Philip Martin, by the BFI’s Dick Fiddy; and an exclusive skit by the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.
With only one issue of Lytton to go, and so many threads to still be resolved, it remains to be seen as to whether Saward can provide a satisfying denouement; however, this tale has been a wild ride so far, so hopefully we can get a last hurrah for Lytton which proves worthy not just of the character, but also all of the sterling groundwork prepared to date.
Lytton #3 is out now from Cutaway Comics.