Murder. Gruesome. London. Despite the mystery surrounding such butchering, it’s undeniable how even a few words can automatically resemble one notorious being: Jack the Ripper.
IDW Publishing brings Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell back to the newly released category as it’s introduced with a new hardcover. Colored with scattered red lines to resemble the sky connecting to the bright red city of London. The exterior foretells the bloody sequences that the reader will soon become familiar with during the journey of Whitechapel’s infamous serial killer.
The interior pages are black and white and filled with bold imagery. The faint of heart should be warned, as this mature content serves a purpose to express the gravity of the times and murders of London, 1888. Facial expressions, softly lit nights, and an unordered sequence of events build tension for the reader, leading to blood-spattered murder scenes.
From Hell is crafted as historical fiction and reads like the mystery has never been such, which begs to question – where does fact meet fiction? Moore, the writer, and Campbell, the artist, create a world built on quotes from the past, Masonic lore, one ultimate conspiracy theory, and a detailed depiction of those horrifying events still known to this day.
The creators wrapped their own conclusions into this story and also provided maps and a thorough annotation to each chapter, thoughtfully describing how each page came to be. This masterpiece does not only walk along the path of each victim, it presents the killer to the reader and you then watch intelligence turn to lunacy. From Hell illustrates the pains of this world one should only expect to find in its infancy: corruption, tolerance of assassinations, class divisions based on gender, and even the fallibility of one character the reader might hope to bring light into this dark world.
Whitechapel, although relatively small in size, is an empire within the framework of these pages. Women are deemed irredeemable based on their dangerous occupation, “heads of the house” are men and either villainous or bullied to wither, and these lines cross throughout the course of this grand tale. The artwork clearly shows nudity, sex, and anatomical gore, but Campbell also presents a gigantic world to surround these moments. The presence of massive architecture looms overhead – churches, monuments, ballrooms, and the varying types of living quarters.
These structures are made quite apparent as “Leather Apron,” another nickname for the “Ripper,” tours the city, showcasing his knowledge of history and lore. This information he shares with his driver, not only conveys his intentions, but highlights what in fact breeds his discontent for others in the world. Most of these other characters are trapped within a barbaric cycle, and their only hope of survival seems to be finding comfort with another person or spending their earnings in a pub, usually ordering “a pint and a half o’ bitter.”
Moore’s magnificent ability to write this story has been recognized by his peers, receiving the Harvey Award and Eisner Award for Best Writer multiple times, while he and Campbell also won together for Best Continuing or Limited Series and Best Serialized Story. They both set the stage and From Hell is gloomy and frightening filled with dark alleys, demonic figures, and moments that will hold your breath.
From Hell’s hardcover edition is available in stores and to order online.