Ian Edginton's graphic novel Scarlet Traces is neither as labyrinthine and oppressive as Alan Moore's From Hell nor as intricately devised as Moore's Watchmen. But it captures much of the tone of the former and the dark, conspiracy-ridden despair of the latter, in a story that's just odd enough to do Moore proud. In a cyberpunk-meets-steampunk version of Victorian England, the Martian invasion of H.G. Wells' The War Of The Worlds is a decade in the past. After the aliens fell victim to human germs, the war machines they left behind were harvested by British scientists, who re-engineered heat rays into furnaces and light sources, and spindly tripodal tanks into mechanical conveyances; the streets of London teem with eight-legged "spider-cabs," policemen ride tentacled mechanical mounts, and sleek triangular planes fill the skies. But the Victorian mentality is still firmly in place, as evinced on one level by retired "gentleman adventurer" Captain Robert Autumn, who opens Scarlet Traces with a brooding, rococo autobiography in which he mourns the age of horses ("The noble steed–our companion and carriage for millennia is replaced by a clockwork toy!"), and on another level by the half-drunk war veteran who, upon finding a slew of blood-drained corpses in the muddy edges of the Thames, immediately assumes a vampire is at work. Those two plot threads come together when Robert's manservant and adventuring companion finds out that his niece has gone missing in London, and the two men start playing Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, with deeply unpleasant results for all involved. Edginton's other Dark Horse work has consisted of film and TV spin-offs, from Xena to Predator to The Terminator to Planet Of The Apes to Star Wars, and Scarlet Traces similarly feels more like part of a whole than like a standalone work, in ways both good and bad. Its plot follows the Watchmen arc a little too closely (though far more simplistically), while simultaneously leaning on its influences, including Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle. But Edginton forges his own ground with his alien-influenced neo-Britain setting, which pseudonymous illustrator D'Israeli lays out in crisp, precise, elaborate, and beautifully colored detail. The flesh of Edginton's Weird Tales world is in some ways more interesting than the bones of his murder-mystery story, but taken together, they form a uniquely strange and absorbing body of work. And the characters, though drawn from scratch, feel like old favorites with a great deal of pop-lit history behind them. Scarlet Traces was originally commissioned as a web-comic for a now-defunct site, but it belongs in print. It feels like a spin-off of a series of novels that never were, about a world that never existed.