Review: Ring Of Roses
Originally published over twenty years ago as a four issue miniseries, this the first time the story has been presented in colour. Set in an alternate reality London in the year 1991, where the Catholic Church wields incredible power, to the point of hindering the progress of science and technology to levels comparable to where our world was during World War II. Ring Of Roses has been published by numerous publishers; Dark Horse published the original four issue miniseries from 1992-3, Image Comics released a trade paper back in 2005, and finally we have this collection by Titan Comics. Ring Of Roses is a murder mystery tale rife with corruption, secret societies, religious mania and even the plague. But does a graphic novel originally written in 1992 hold up today?
Ring of Roses is a story that bears as much relevance now as it did twenty three years ago. Dave Gibbon’s forward compares this book to three standout graphic novels released in the late 80’s that, if you haven’t read at least one, then you’ll surely have heard of them; Maus, The Dark Knight Retuns, and Watchmen. That’s some lofty company to put Ring Of Roses in, and while the story is absolutely worth reading, the impact this book had back then was considerably less than the other three.
That being said, this still a phenomenal story, if a little harder to follow at times than you would expect with a comic book. Das Petrou does an excellent job propelling the story along, and the comparative lack of narration is refreshing; it reminds me of some of my favourite books that don’t spell everything out for you as you read it. By not holding your hand and over explaining everything Das Petrou encourages you to give the story a second reading. John Watkiss art is in a line heavy, almost sketchy, style that conveys just as much grime and oppressiveness as you need without feeling needlessly dark or murky to the point where the artwork makes the story hard to follow. Although I never read a copy of the story in greyscale, I really enjoyed the vibrancy the newly coloured art brings to the story. [colourist’s] addition to the story doesn’t feel out of place in the least, and helps to bring out details that I may have otherwise missed.
Ring Of Roses isn’t a new story, but the themes within the story are still more than relevant to today’s audience. It isn’t a perfect graphic novel, but it held my attention from start to finish, and I enjoyed every digital page that I read.
When you get a chance, check this book out. It’s a fantastic book that’s just as relevant now as it was nearly twenty five years ago. And yes, it absolutely holds up to the stories written today.
Writer: Das Petrou Artist: John Watkiss Colourist: Phil Elliott
Story: 8.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy
Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review.