How I would change The City (by James Herbert)

How I would change The City (by James Herbert)

The City by James Herbert is a mixed bag for many readers, who have read all of the Rats books this graphic novel offers nothing new, but for new readers it’s quite interesting if vague. For me, this is where I started reading James Herbert’s work on The Rats, and after reading the trilogy and discussing all of the books, I now return to the last book that ends this series.

I want to discuss what I would change for this graphic novel that would give it more purpose, and a finality to end the saga. This isn’t to disrespect James Herbert’s work on The City as I’ve enjoyed reading it for its unique visual journey into the nightmare world of The Rats. However, I would like to offer my criticism not out of knowing what would make it perfect or how my opinion is right, but to offer alternative ideas and suggestions that could improve the story.

Let’s begin!

The protagonist

In The City, we meet our protagonist named David who is a lone survivor by the name of ‘The Traveller’, who search’s for his wife and daughter in the warped post apocalyptic nightmarish city of London. Now ruled by the Black Rats, David search’s for his family whilst slaughtering the rats.

When he finds his family his daughter is nothing but a carcass and his wife has gone, too far lost in her delusion. When he discovers that she is nursing a White baby rat, he ensures the vermin is destroyed and sadly mercy kills his wife.

Then suddenly he has a new mission in which he kills the Mother creature who’s nest is in St Paul’s Cathedral. After he kills the beast, he leaves London to walk the wasteland alone.

The Character lacks any connections to the previous books and we don’t really get to know David in the story. His mission doesn’t really pull you in and make you sympathise with him, his story is a mystery. A mystery character can be written well in some stories with some hints here and there about their past, but David just feels vague with nothing to make you question where he came from.

How does he know where the Mother Creature hibernate? Who does he work for? How did he know his family might be alive? Was he an ex military man? How did he survive the nuclear apocalypse?

I have two alternative suggestions that could make The City a good send off to the franchise, and to bring the story full circle.

1. Have Luke Pender be the protagonist of the story, he was the main protagonist in the second book, Lair. He knows about the Rats and their ugly hierarchy during his time as a investigator for Ratkill. Have the story briefly explain his life after Lair, his marriage and how he left behind Ratkill and his vengeance went for the Black Rats. Then go into the apocalypse and how he and his wife were lucky to be in one of the safer areas that weren’t attacked before sees-fire. Skip a few years in the future and show Pender as a lone traveller who is now back with Ratkill. After his wife was killed by the returning horrors of the Black Rats, Pender seeks revenge for her death and kill the Mother Creature.

2. Second suggestion would be that Harris would be the main protagonist due to him being the first person alive to have witnessed the beginning of the Black Rats first outbreak. Although he has no military background or combat expertise, he did survive several rat attacks through the first book, The Rats. Last we know of Harris in the series was that he survived the attack in the nest and reported to HQ (Ratkill) of what he saw. After that there’s nothing, his story just ends in the series and not even if he survived the nuclear fallout years later. Having him as the protagonist in The City would make the story feel like a full circle, a finality to the series as Harris returns to London to face a old enemy one last time.

Post Domain story with reference to Culver and how society has fallen

Domain ends with Culver and two other survivors leave London by the military, who saved them during a gruelling battle on a boat against the rats. We’re told that there are some areas that weren’t affected by the fallout, chaotic but fairly ordered mostly. The story ends on a cliffhanger of sorts as the rats are still active in their goal to take over the world. By the time The City arrives we see humanity at the whims of the rats as society is completely destroyed.

Maybe explain post Domain what happened to Culver and the others. Was it China that dropped the nuclear bombs? Did they do a second wave of attacks months later? How did the rats took over?

There’s a lot to explain in just a single graphic novel with barely 70 or so pages, so it’ll either have to be a short 2-4 page explanation or a prequel story. Or alternatively, just show how the rats finally dominated the country, as in Domain they’ve just about took over London after the fallout.

The Ratkill as a Guerrilla task force

By the time the third book come around Ratkill had completely disappeared, no mention of the group nor of Howard. Domain’s story was a few decades (10-20 years) after the events of Lair, roughly in the 80’s or 90’s. It was almost as if this book wasn’t connected to the last two when reading the first few chapters, until later on we get exposition on previous events on the Black Rats.

During The City we see unknown groups of people who help the Traveler during his mission in London, they seem to be from an established group who knew who David was. Could they be from Ratkill, surviving inspectors who now work as a task force to take down nests? Or are they a retaliation group who were in one of the many safe nuclear bunkers?

It would be a nice nod to either Domain or the trilogy to include Ratkill as an existing group, who are fighting an eternal war against the rats.

~~~~~~~~~

That’s all I can suggest for how I would change The City to make it more meaningful. It’s not to say that my ideas are perfect as I’m not the master of this fictional world, James Herbert is the only one who can ultimately write The Rats franchise. But unfortunately, he sadly passed away early this decade, so I doubt anyone could continue the franchise as good as James’s work

The City was released in the 1990’s, about two decades after his first book, The Rats, was published. The City was James Herbert’s last work on The Rats franchise as a fourth sequel in the rats saga. He had changed since his early days of writing as he moved away from violent and graphic horror into more complex horror.

In a way, James Herbert was moving on from his most famous fictional franchise and wanted to create new stories rather than milking his best work. Besides, by the time Domain came out the horror was becoming too familiar and less frightening.

How can you make a graphic novel end a well beloved horror series, and meet expectations? The answer is not that simple, and because James hasn’t done a graphic novel before or since, it’s understandable that The City would feel mediocre.

But then again looking back on The City, I have this strange nostalgia now that I’ve read all of the books. Seeing the Black Rats, the post fallout remains of London, the White Rats and the Mother Creature all being illustrated actually makes us see how horrendous and evil these things are.

I think the book was never meant to be the next best thing but rather a visual story to thank the fans for supporting decades of fiction by James Herbert. Instead of writing a fourth book, a visual story was made for us, the reader, to witness the horror for one last time. To see the mutant rats for the first time as they glare at us with their evil, cunning red eyes.

The Black Rats ultimately won the battle and dominated the earth, as humanity annihilates itself by nuclear fallout. Then we get to see what we created by accident decades ago (from atomic bombs ironically) destroy our species.

The final page of the traveller walking across the crimson red horizon after leaving London is the story’s end. Unlike previous books there’s no epilogue about surviving rats nor another White Rat mutant, just the main protagonist waking away as a broken man who’s lost everything in his life. He only has revenge against the rats as something to live for.

____________

I hope you have enjoyed this post, and I hope this final post on my thoughts on The Rats saga was enjoyable. I’ve been really inspired to write several posts on The Rats series after reading all the books, and I’ve done few post covering my thoughts on each book.

It’s been a pleasure to have found James Herbert’s fiction and The Rats franchise, it’s helped me to start reading more Horror book genre now. It’s a shame that James Herbert isn’t mentioned much in media and bookshops today, hardly much of his books are in my local Waterstones (only second hand shops have his books).

However, I hope that I’ve helped spread the word about James Herbert to a new generation of book readers. Hopefully we can still pass on the tales of horror of The Rats for decades onwards.

Until next time,

-Bjorn

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Iron Warrior project, the story so far

Iron Warrior project, the story so far

Project Iron Warriors started out as a side project that can be worked at any time, without deadlines or rush to paint models. It’s my way of painting a collection I’ve always wanted to display, using as much effort and attention to bring out the best of my abilities. That’s not to say I don’t make an effort with my other projects that I work on, but this project in particular is a scenario of ‘if I retire tomorrow this project will be my last and best’ sort of thing.

Over time in January, I’ve started to really enjoy this project as it’s given me free rein to go crazy. No grinding on fairly basic colour scheme and rush for deadline, I can just paint my best with a few models. During February, weeks after finishing the project I picked up a copy of Storm of Iron by Graham McNeill. A very inspirational book for all Iron Warrior fans that shows just how efficient these guys are in trench warfare. I was so inspired that I wanted to go back to my Iron Warriors project and add more models to the collection.

Ever since I was young, I’ve always wanted to collect an Iron Warriors army but I was crap at painting them at the time. My skills were not fully mastered at painting which resulted in clumpy painted models, I still have these models today that are kept in box of shame.

Anyways, as I hog older and read many stories about the IV legion and hobbyist articles of their own collection, I felt that one day I needed to paint my own collection of Iron Warriors before I leave the hobby, or just float in the astral realm when my time comes.

Unlike most Iron Warrior collections, this one is focused on those afflicted by Nurgle who praise him as their deity. A slow corruption that started all the way back during the war on Tallarn. These warriors of festering diseases were banished by the Daemon Primarch Perturabo for their weakness to fall to one god.

I liked how the design team at GW used MKIII and MKII (and others too) for the Death guard, adding some warp corruption and bringing to life the Death guard from the rich illustrations of the legion. Whilst I do agree a few of the ranges kits do look a bit too cartoony (the easy to build Blightlords suffer from this), I do however overall like the factions design.

Since the IV legion use a lot of MKIII and Cataphractii Terminators in their armoury, The Deathguard range more than fits the template to paint Iron Warrior colour scheme. My project so far looks impressive, the corrupted MKIII armour just fits well for Iron Warriors devoted to Nurgle.

Current project list

My side project is not tied to any specific detachment in mind, as I feel that having no limitations (apart from staying true to the legions doctrine and preference to warfare) will make this project more enjoyable and open for experimentation.

Ive had a few unused CSM models in the neglected box for awhile now including a Word Bearers Dreadnought, Chosen and cultists.

Below is a list of what I currently have in the project.

  • Lord Contagion
  • (Chaos Lord prox) Lieutenant
  • Tallyman
  • 4x Blightlords
  • 5x Plague Marines
  • Dreadnought
  • Blight Drone
  • Plagueburst Crawler
  • 10x Poxwalkers
  • 19x Cultists
  • 10x kitbashed Chosen as CSM (may not be included If experiment fails)

The list incorporates two of the notable units that the Iron Warriors have (with minor changes by Nurgle’s blessing), one being Slaves that are cultists and Poxwalkers, their the meat shields that drag the enemy whilst the IV legion Astartes Judge the enemy from afar. Secondly the list is starting to feature heavy support, the Plagueburst Crawler fits perfectly as a siege weapon like the Vindicator (but far more messed up).

If I expand this project further into the undivided Chaos portion when CSM release is fully done, I plan to add more none aligned CSM units and siege machines like Predators, Vindicators and Daomic infused monstrosity’s (maybe throw in a basilisk too!).

Project showcase

Over the past three months I’ve been painting any expanding this project, basically a whole season. Below is all of my Iron Warriors I’ve painted so far in this collection.

Next step

Going forwards, I want to focus on getting more none aligned infantry and war machines, as the Nurgle stuff is just about done. Possibly 1-2 CSM squads and maybe Havocs, as well as a Predator. After reading a few short stories about Tallarn, I’m keen to add some tanks to my army.

That’s all from me for now, typing this long post was tedious but I wanted to try a bit harder on making a longer post for my Iron Warriors Collection. Do you guys prefer my shorter blog posts or do you like longer posts?

With that, I’ll be back soon with a very special post on one of my biggest comic finds in my life, no joke!

Oh and one more thing, for those wretched Imperial Fist fan boys, here’s my artist depiction of one of your chapter masters, enjoy!😉

Until next time, Iron within, Iron without,

-Warsmith Bjorn

Price hike (a rant)

On Saturday GW have released the preorders for CSM and the second book in the Vigilus series. Some of the models look pretty awesome, the marine squad look way better than the outdated sculpts from decades ago. Abbadon, what can I say? Just too amazing to describe for the sculpt.

However, I’m starting to notice how GW have price hiked their models to a ludicrous price. While yes I know that GW models are professionals sculpted to the best of the industry and it’s not a cheap business producing tabletop miniatures.

But £35 for a Chaos Space marine squad?!?

That’s just overpriced compared to their previous iterations being £20-£25. I’ve noticed this change for basic unit kits since Stormcast Eternals came out a few years ago, although I can kinda justify Liberators being £37 as their quite tough as a 5x unit even.

But over the years smore and more kits have got the same pricing from Fyreslayers, Nighthaunt, Deathguard, Daughters of Khaine, Idoneth Deepkin and Primaris Space Marines. It’s actually quite expensive now just to get a basic Troop/ Battleline unit from a new or update armies.

Sure there’s Start Collecting! box sets that are a money saver (even though GW decided to add extra VAT to all sets and paints!) and they are a great way to get started. But for new armies you’d have to wait a year or more until that army gets a box set. Take the Idoneth Deepkin for example, it took them a year to get their Start Collecting kit as well as the Maggotkin of Nurgle.

Wether you love or hate GW, I won’t tell you wether you should or should not still buy their new products. It’s your freedom to choose what you want.

I personally can’t justify this price hike as it makes my gut churn seeing that price. I can understand partly why it’s priced this way due to uncertain times in the U.K. at the minute, and growing demand for GW miniatures.

What do you think? Should GW price their models less, or keep it as it is? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Until next time

-Bjorn

Going back to my Iron Warriors project

Recently my blog has reached its third birthday, so in celebration of this milestone I’ve decided to get myself some Death Guard models for my Iron Warriors side project.

Also today I’ve decided to include more models from my neglected box to this project, reusing Old Chaos Space marine models for a new purpose to my collection.

I’ll share more info when I’ve got all of my kitbashing work done by tomorrow.

Apologies for making this post short and bland, I’ve had some personal issues from loads of crap situations, which has pretty much ruined my week. So my mood has been terrible these past few days. But hopefully I’ll be back to blogging as usual.

Until next time,

-Bjorn

Primaris Crimson Fists: part VI, Scouts

Now that my Skaven collection is on a break, I can now go back to my Primaris project. I have a unit of repainted scouts which I’ve done awhile back before the Skaven decided to crash the party.

I’m pretty much at the verge of finishing this project, now that I have a good variety of units for my collection. I’m either going to have a a unit of Reivers or a Redemptor Dreadnought as my final unit for the project.

Not much else to say, so I’ll wrap this post off.

Until next time!

-Bjorn

Skaven Terminator clad Wizard

With some spare bitz and an neglected Warmachine model that’s been left in a box, I decided to create my own Arch Warlock for my Clan Skryre army. I wanted to create an imposing iron clad killing machine that looked steampunk, but also has the appearance of Skaven identity.

Also, I made a unit of three Warplock Jezzails.

For the past few weeks I’ve been painting a lot of Skaven models, more than I would usually paint when I’m motivated to paint this army. It’s pretty much a relief now that I’ve only got four more units to paint, rather than ten or twenty units in the backlog.

I’ll be taking a break from painting my Skaven now that I’ve just about done nearly everything. Once I’ve taken a good long break I can come back fresh and motivated to finish off the last few units.

I think my Crimson Fists needs some attention now after weeks of silence.

Until next time!

-Bjorn

Justice, a tribute artwork to the late Carlos Esquerra

Inspired by Carlos Esquerra and John Wagner’s creation of Judge Dredd, part of 2000AD comic publication. I do not own the character or anything that’s part of its respective creators.

The other day I’ve found a touch screen ballpoint pen, which I needed for a long time. As you can see above it’s really helped me create better accurate drawings compared to my older works. I’ve decided to do a crop drawing of Judge Dredd in memory of the late Carlos Esquerra, who sadly passed away last year.

R.I.P Carlos