Review by Frank Plowright
While Rodolphe and Leo didn’t make a full disclosure in Encounters, they did lay out the basis of their story. The Kenyan bush is playing host not only to creatures that have been extinct for millions of years, but at least one that’s never previously existed on Earth. It’s aroused the interest of the British secret service and others besides, with the MI6 concluding that it’s either the Soviets behind matters or an alien invasion is imminent. In 1947 neither option is comforting.
There’s an extraordinary placidity to Leo’s covers, not always reflecting the story within. Each of the three items on the flat colour background to Aberrations is an exciting object, yet serenity prevails. It’s also partly to do with the lack of indicated movement, and this is the weakest aspect of Leo’s otherwise decorative and accomplished art. Inside, the unusual creatures play to one of his great strengths, and he supplies them in all their wonder, introducing several new and terrifying specimens. Leo’s other priority is excellent emotional characterisation, and he renders his cast credible via expression and posture.
Kathy Austin returns to Kenya and renews some acquaintances as the creators stoke up the Fortean experiences. In addition to the anomalous creatures and possible UFOs, the returned dead are added to the mix, although not in zombie-style flesh-eating form. The odious John Remington also comes more to the fore. He’s an American writer more than loosely based on Ernest Hemingway who financed an expedition that disappeared. Several weeks later he and another survivor turned up little the worse for wear, and he now accompanies Kathy to investigate someone living near Lake Victoria.
A mood of suspicion and befuddlement successfully permeates the entire book. No-one’s entirely sure of what’s going on, but they’re determined to the get to the bottom of it, and by the conclusion there’s both definitive proof of something, and the involvement of the USA. Interventions beckons.