Times of London, the first book in Henry Chebaane’s Panharmonion Chronicles series is a genre-bending, super-powered time travel tale packed with unique perspectives and fantastical concepts.
When orphaned Canadian musician Alex Campbell inherits an enormous, run-down Victorian London house from a mysterious ancestor, she moves to the UK in the hopes of transforming the house into a Boutique Hotel, looking for a fresh start from her tragic history. But with the house built on top of an ancient secret, a sinister corporation rears its head seeking to get its hands on the property… by any means necessary.
What follows is an explosion of science fiction and steampunk splendour. Times of London features time travel, portals, sinister corporations, superpowers and even blimps! With a story so jam-packed with delicious concepts it’s a testament to Chebaane’s writing that it all interlocks so cleanly, laying out a sandpit of enticing alt-history that you just can’t help but want to play in.
Chebaane has clearly given everything to this story in a way that only indie comics publishing can allow. It transports you across times and cultures you’d never normally see. Lavie Tidhar’s Adler is a good touchstone for the steampunk aesthetic and female protagonist, though in Times of London a deliberate choice is made to make the lead of Canadian First Nation heritage, garnishing the story with an enlightening new perspective. There is true diversity in the characters, with their backgrounds informing decisions that drive the narrative in unexpected ways.
Fans of Garth Ennis’ Preacher series will relish the clandestine battle against a malevolent corporation claiming religious piety. On the surface, this battle of good vs moustache-twirling antagonist is enjoyable enough, but digging deeper, the real villainy is shrouded in the greed of 19th century industrialists with a nice alt-history sci-fi twist.
The artwork of Stephen Baskerville (Transformers, Judge Dredd) crystallises Chebaane’s abstract concepts with an electric vibrancy that draws you deeper into a story that is clearly just beginning. As an opening salvo to a fantastical new (and old) world, Times of London bursts with new ideas as well as twists on themes and concepts that will slot neatly into many a sci-fi fan’s wheelhouse and bookshelf.
Times of London: The Panharmonion Chronicles is available now. Find out more here.