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Comic Book: Scarlet Traces
A Royal Articulated Hussar

Written by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli, Scarlet Traces is the story of a post Martian invasion Great Britain. The first story (after a fairly faithful graphic novel rendition of the original The War of the Worlds) is told roughly a decade after the invasion, and follows the exploits of former soldier, spy, and adventurer Robert Autumn and his valet Archibald Currie. Basically an Alternate History continuation of the novel by H. G. Wells, the series deals with the Crapsack World that they live in, and the mystery they have to solve, which involves the highest levels of British government. The second story takes place years later, with an elderly Autumn recruiting photojournalist Charlotte Hemming to travel to Mars, and find out why so few servicemen have returned from war...

Tropes:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The trilogy starts with a basic telling of The War of the Worlds and expands it into the socio-political ramifications such an event would have on the rest of the 20th century. The major difference is that the aliens only attack Britain as being the dominant superpower, Britain posed the greatest threat, and the aliens could assimilate the humans and take over much of the world covertly.
  • Alternate History: The Martians invasion actually happening, Great Britain remains a super-power, inter-planet travel is common by the early 30's, yeah, it's an alternate history alright.
    • After the alien invasion of Britain fails, the Imported Alien Phlebotinum allows Britain to become an even more powerful military superpower, meaning World War One and World War II never happen.
    • Oswald Mosley becomes Home Secretary of Great Britain, and forms a version of the S.P.C. even more brutal than in our world.
    • Haile Selassie is the Secretary General of League of Nations, and Abyssinia has never been taken over by Italy
    • Space travel has been developed to rocket level by the Thirties, though gravity cannons provided the first space travel device since 1908 and the first retaliation against Mars.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The alien invaders, who seem to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Archie looses his right arm in the end fight underneath Cairfax Abbey to a guard's heat ray gun.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The ruins of Mars were not only built by them, but their murals show that the solar system was once teeming with sentient life, all now assimilated by the Martians... who aren't really from Mars, but from the now-destroyed fifth planet, known to humans as the asteroid belt.
  • Battle Butler: Archie was a sergeant alongside Robert in the Coldstream Guards, and as his accomplice in international espionage. Fights alongside Autumn and Ned Penny in the lair at Cairfax Abbey, and earlier against two government thugs.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Martians themselves are pretty creepy.
  • Bio-Augmentation: The Martians capture human soldiers to pick apart and study human biology. This is so they can infiltrate the moon base and take over the magnetic rail gun, so they can bombard the Earth with meteors.
  • Body Horror: The human/alien hybrids.
  • Britain Is Only London: Averted. While a large part of the action takes place in London in both books, the characters also make a trip up to Scotland, and the counties outside of London. However, London is the biggest and most modernist city in the country, thanks to the Martian tech used to rebuild.
  • Cannon Fodder: Most of the soldiers left on the surface of Mars towards the end of The Great Game are this when they hold up the Martians till the cavorite weapon is released, resulting in the destruction of both the Martians and themselves as they float off into space from the cavorite
  • Crapsack World: The British empire after the invasion is a nationalistic, paranoid nation that hides its darker core under a veneer of progress and modern technology. The North is basically under military law, with curfews and military actions against civilians. Meanwhile, the government is using the Martian war to direct public sentiment away from the domestic problems, and instil public support of the government.
  • Continuity Nod: Several of the alternate history variation, especially in the final instalment, which features Monty commanding the forces in the Martian desert and an engineer named Barnes Wallis who develops a revolutionary type of bomb. There are also several callbacks to the original The War Of The Worlds.
  • Cool Car: Most of the cars shown are pretty cool. Great Britain does away with regular wheels, and converts them to multi-legged hansom cabs(Scarlet Traces) and black London cabs (The Great Game) and similar vehicles. However, one of the coolest are massive army trucks on Mars (most are so big they have catwalks circling them, and carry massive loads. The low Martian gravity probably helps.
  • Cool Plane: The flying wing that Robert, Archie and Archie's brother take to Scotland is large enough that they have fireplaces and private cabins and lounges on board. Also the RAF's jet fighter planes on Mars are pretty cool, with the addition of Gatling gun pods on them as well.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Apart from the initial assault on Earth, the final battle of the war on Mars ends with the destruction of most of the Martian forces being destroyed by the Cavorite bombs at the end. Also the destruction of the moon base by the combined British/Commonwealth fleets against the Martian infiltrators. Though they take severe losses, and most of Southern England is obliterated, they manage to destroy what may be the last vestiges of the Martians in the solar system.
  • Da Editor: Charlotte Hemmings' boss is Bernard Goldman, the editor of The Interceptor. He is the one who initially meets with Charlotte about her mission to Mars. However, both are attacked by thugs and he is killed by them, but Autumn kills them to protect Charlotte. His sister survives the destruction of London.
  • Death from Above: The aforementioned fighters destroying several Martian tripods, the release of the Cavorite against the Martians, and the counter-attack by the Commonwealth/British Fleets all involve this trope.
  • Death Ray: The Martian Heat Ray, vaporizes people on contact, and incinerates the surroundings.
  • Diesel Punk: While the story has some Steam Punk elements, most of The Great Game has more Diesel Punk overtones, with cars most likely powered by gas, or having a Martian power source.
  • Drink Order: Sherry and... bovril?!
  • Driven to Madness: The fate of the captive alien who was smart enough to hermetically seal his tripod. Or so he wants us to think.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Autumn after he fails to stop Spry.
  • Energy Weapon: Again, the heat rays.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The lair under Cairfax Abbey, the foundry room, and the Martian Hives all count as underground bases.
  • Fat Bastard: Davenport Spry, who is quite rotund. The spymaster general of Great Britain and future Prime Minister is a pretty much a heartless bastard. His treatment of our hero is pretty horrible, and his manipulation of events to create the war and the ensuing police state are all horrid as well.
  • Final Solution: Galahad.
  • Foreshadowing: Did the Brits really just gun down their own men in cold blood? No, they didn't.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Prime Minister and Spry, as well as lesser soldiers and functionaries, all cover up the conspiracy of the missing girls. Also, in The Great Game, they cover up why so few servicemen have returned from the war out of several hundred-thousand recruits.
  • Grim Up North: The north of England and Scotland, where the alien tech is produced, suffer from massive unemployment and starvation thanks to increased automation.
  • He Who Fights Monsters / Not So Different: Much of the British Empire turns bad worse after decades of war with the aliens. The comparison between colonial imperialism and Planet Looters was present in the original The War of the Worlds but ignored by most western adaptations.
  • Human Resources: Spry feeds the blood of young women looking for work to a captive alien and the aliens themselves use humans as guinea pigs in their hybridisation experiments.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Pretty much any governmental character, though James Dravott is more of the "doing my duty" sort.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The Martian technology, though it was mainly captured and re-engineered by the British Empire, and used against them.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Bernard Goldman claims he would marry Charlotte if it weren't for the fact he was a queer.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Charlotte Hemming.
  • In Working Order: Averted.
  • The London Underground: With the influx of Martian technology, the Underground has been been turned into the London Overground, with monorails stretching across the city. One abandoned station has been turned into a bunker by the war ministry, but even then it was abandoned, and Autumn has turned it into his hiding place.
  • Mars: Mars is the center of action for most of the second series.
  • Magnetic Weapons: The moon has been turned into a Magnetic rail gun, designed originally to shorten the time between travelling between the Earth and Mars from almost a year, down to a month at most. However, Martian/human hybrids infiltrate the base, turning it into a giant gun, which flings, according to one character, "the equivalent of a Flying Scotsman hurled at the Earth every five minutes".
  • Mechanical Horse: In the first book, many cavalry have moved onto mechanical contraptions to get around, either shaped like mechanical versions of horses, or the more sinister Royal Articulated Hussars, who are only used to suppress trouble spots in the empire. It is shown that they massacred several protesters earlier during a demonstration in Scotland.
  • Noodle Incident: Autumn angrily decries an incident involving Spry and several men left behind in the Crimea at some point before the story proper. Also, on Charlotte Hemming mentions she had been to Africa covering a story to a cabbie, and his reaction is one of surprise, apparently something happened while she was there.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Robert Autumn
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The "Martian" aliens, who have already wiped out life on every other planet in the solar system. To be fair, they were in a vulnerable kill-or-die position, since their original home planet got turned into the Asteroid Belt 65 million years ago. The cataclysm was what messed up Mars' ecosystem and the fallout killed the dinosaurs on Earth. They took over Mars, as a temporary home, killing what remained of its original inhabitants and then waited for Earth to recover. After their Earth expedition failed, they also attacked Venus.
    • It's all consistent with their portrayal in The War of the Worlds: they're biologically incapable of emotions or compassion.
    • Not to mention the men who killed all the girls for their blood. From a logistical perspective, there is absolutely no reason why they had to harm the girls in any way to obtain sufficient quantities of blood to feed the Martian. Just get more girls, drain less blood, and pay them a pound to send them on their way. It's cheaper than transporting their corpses...
  • Pendulum War: Neither side really gains much a victory on Mars, as both sides fight over Olympus Mons and other territories before the final Cavorite attack.
  • Ray Gun: The Heat Rays look like this in Scarlet Traces. The War Of The Worlds prequel comic (an adaptation of the original novel) instead has them as the invisible rays described in the novel.
  • Scotland: Scotland has been turned into mostly vast, mechanized estates, where 100 men can do the work of several thousand, and most of the people are poor, starving, and unable to support their families. Most of the cities are slums, where women have to sell themselves for money. Also most of Scotland's major centers are under martial law, and government forces have attacked even peaceful demonstrators with heat rays and sabres.
  • Shout-Out: Dozens - see here for a (mostly) complete list of those appearing in The Great Game.
    • Prime Minister Cabal is a reference to John Cabal from the film version of The Shape of Things to Come.
    • The two thugs who kill Goldman are the Mitchell boys from EastEnders
    • Two of the fighter pilots from Mars are from the Dan Dare comics
    • Two characters in each of the books is made to resemble a friend of Ian Edgington and D'Israeli
    • Billy Bunter and several of the other boys from Greyfriars group are seen in front of the museum where the group is
    • A van is seen on the overpass during the ride to the Interceptor which says A. Jones Butcher (a reference to Jack Jones, the butcher/homeguardsman in Dad's Army).
    • Another Dads Army reference is the Martian in the first book being captured by a local militia in the coastal town of Walmington-On-Sea, where Dad's Army is located.
    • The two government killers in the first series are based on Michael Caine's and Sean Connery's characters from The Man Who Would be King.
    • In the first volume, Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock can be seen in the airport terminal.
    • The pictographs showing the original inhabitants of the solar system.
  • Space Station: One orbits the central operations on the ground on Mars, headquarters for Field Marshal Montgomery. Might also have elements of space elevator, as it seems to be connected to the ground in some way.
  • Spider Tank: Used by the British during the first counter-attack against Mars, seen boarding the ships to Mars in the telecast.
  • Status Quo Is God: By 1950, Britain's power is much diminished and has lost most of it's empire, including India, and has thankfully become a bit less imperialist in the process.
  • Steam Punk: More prevalent in the first story than the second, but the use of hansom cabs as travel in the first, powered by Martian technology, miniature tripods to destroy pigeons in Trafalgar Square and more have the more Steampunkish atmosphere.
  • Stripped to the Bone: What the heat-ray does to people when it hits them.
  • Suicide Attack: The Scottish rebel who blows up the BBC broadcasting house on live television, in the name of Scottish independence.
  • Tank Goodness: Tanks are developed several years ahead of their actual creation, and are much larger, and carry a reverse-engineered heat ray in their turrets.
  • The British Empire: The main power in the world after it reverse engineers the technology left behind from the invasion, and from the captured Martian. Also becomes a dark power, holding much of the world under its economic might, and refuses to listen to foreign reason involving ending the war.
  • Tripod Terror: The Martian tripods. They are more organic-looking than many depictions, and also more numerous as well. See the trope page for an image.
  • The Troubles: Given that it's an Alternate History, this time it's Scotland that has the Bloody Sunday uprising.
  • United Nations: The League of Nations still exists, and is headed by Haile Selassie is the Secretary General. Supports the independence of the Commonwealth countries from the British Empire, and offers aid after the destruction of London and southern England by the rail gun on the Moon.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Played for Drama - Scotland has effectively been reduced to an industrial hellhole by the south, to the extent that the Scots are now participating in guerilla warfare, resulting in martial law throughout much of Britain.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: The cavorite bombs used to destroy the Martians on Mars, and the accelerator cannon used to destroy London and Southern England at the end of the book. Both kill thousands of human lives.
  • World War I: Most of the uniforms of the ground troops in The Great Game are patterned after World War I uniforms.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Scottish separatists.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Airships are seen sometimes in the background scenes, but most of the technology seems to have lead to literal airships of the sky, huge jet liners that ply the skies.

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alternative title(s): Scarlet Traces
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