Urban Fantasy is a literary subgenre of Fantasy Fiction, but rather than focusing on big swords, magic rings, and squabbles over who gets to be King, it’s an entirely more modern focused affair. Set in cities and the modern world, the genre largely sets out to explore the folklore and strangeness that might surround us, without heading into Horror territory (though the two genres are closely linked if only because they share a cast of monsters). We’ve chosen some of the classic Urban Fantasy stories that define the genre, and the nature of the city as an environment, or that underline part of our modern way of life in a way that later works simply don’t. Not all of these classics are set in cities, but they all reference them in some way.
Marvel Comic’s universe is full of strange and even uncanny people, places, powers and cosmic beings. Over seventy years of history and innovation have made the world that started in the late 1930s a complicated place. Humanity, as the comics’ prime focus, is perhaps one of the stranger elements, ironically. According to the Marvel database, humans could evolve into super-powered gods and for that reason, alone aliens are wary of Planet Earth. Despite the idea that this will occur in the far future, there are already a large number of divergent superhuman groups that have evolved away from Homo Sapiens to become something else. I’d like to take you on a whistle-stop tour of these many and varied evolutionary offshoots and some of their inspirations. Join me now as I take you on a journey through Ten Strange Offshoots of Humanity in the Marvel Universe!
Count Dracula, Lestat de Lioncourt, Edward Cullen, Bill Compton.
Injection is Warren Ellis' love letter to England, or perhaps Britain in the geographical rather than political sense, is the first thing that springs to mind when I think of Injection. Taking place in the here and now, the series is based on an almost deadly whim and a fundamental mistake. A team of unique individuals came together to create something that would ensure humanity would never stagnate, their creation would drive change, and ensure strangeness remained in the world. The problem is that it worked too well, and the fallout of their success has far-reaching repercussions.
The second volume of Ellis’ Wyndham-inspired Science Fiction epic presents a widening gyre as the story picks up from the close of the first volume, starting with Joanne Creasy as she recovers from the events of the first volume and is sent to investigate the Orkney Tree by the British Government. Dividing much of its focus between this sortie into the far north of Scotland, and the machinations of the Mayor Elect in New York, Volume Two is far more focused than the first book of this series. This provides a strong benefit, effectively allowing Ellis to dive deep into the two characters. We do catch up with two more characters at the end of the book, which I assume is setting up the next book.
Warren Ellis’ Trees is a fascinating, sprawling series that operates on a global scale. Like his Freak Angels series from Avatar, he’s openly channelling British Science Fiction author, John Wyndham, from the very outset of this book. Taking the premise of an alien invasion, Trees chronicles life ten years after a number of alien, black columns arrive on Earth, and do... nothing. They loom over human cities, silent and apparently inactive, apart from the occasional discharge that leaks into the planet’s biosphere. As a consequence, the story Ellis is crafting is both the story of human reaction to these aliens and of what happens as the Trees begin to change. I must say that my initial feeling with regards to the structure of this comics series is that it is a novel, one that builds slowly and inexorably towards a point where there will be convergence.