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Ceej Says… Amazing & Fantastic Tales #4 review

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Planet Jimbot
Writer:
Jim Alexander, Ed Murphy, Luke Cooper
Artist:
Glenn Fleming, Graeme MacLeod, Luke Cooper, Eva Holder

The penultimate instalment of Planet Jimbot’s Amazing & Fantastic Tales offers much of the same appeal as previous issues; an unusual yet extremely effective blend of sequential art and prose fiction, as well as a perfect balance between stand-alone stories and ongoing serials.  As a result, there’s something on offer here for those who picked the title up on a whim as well as continuing readers, but it’s safe to say that to experience the full enjoyment of this anthology series, you really need to go all the way back to issue one.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Anyway… this issue kicks off, as usual, with ‘KROOM!’  I was slightly critical of this ongoing story in my review of issue three, feeling that a lot of the story’s impact was diminished by the almost painfully brief chapters.  I still stand by that assessment, but will add that this is probably the best single ‘chunk’ of the story so far, ramping up the sense of dramatic urgency and featuring artist Glenn Fleming’s finest work to this point.  With only three pages to an issue, KROOM! definitely struggles more than any other title with the anthology format, but I fully acknowledge that as one fifteen-page comic, this would be a genuinely intriguing read.

Up next we have ‘Cold Blooded’, a chunk of prose horror from Ed Murphy of Rough Cut Comics fame.  Murphy does a great job of spinning a self-contained short story here, introducing us to Maria, a girl with a horrible secret and a burning desire for revenge.  Murphy has an engaging writing style, keeping things simple as he conveys the cold isolation of Maria’s childhood, before slowing things down and relishing every moment as he reveals her curse in all its ‘glory’.  Graeme MacLeod adds flavour to the proceedings with the only illustration of the story, a black and white rendition of the truly haunting cover you can see above.  A great read, and Murphy more than fills in for the absence of resident ‘guest writer’ John McShane with an gripping, chilling tale.

From here, Jim Alexander takes over with ‘Pipe’ a genuinely touching one-page strip which sees Jim pondering his own mortality.  I’m not going to delve too much into this one for risk of spoiling the impact, but it’s clearly a deeply personal story – or a really, really impressive facsimile of one. MacLeod supplies the artwork with a simplistic charm here, including a particularly moving final panel.  Another terrific example of the chameleon-like writing skills of Alexander.

The next story, ‘Don’t Read This’ from Luke Cooper, is my personal highlight of the issue – and quite possibly of the series so far.  A tremendously creative high-concept chunk of prose that, again, I don’t really want to go into too much detail about for risk of diminishing the impact. Cooper is an undoubtedly talented artist whose distinctive ‘art deco’ style I’ve lauded on several occasions in the past, but damn can that guy write.  Seriously. As I said, I really can’t talk about this story without spoiling it, but it’s pretty much worth the cover price on its own, and even features a few of Cooper’s  trademark illustrations for a little extra flavour.

Alexander is back in the driving seat next with ‘Bad Tooth’, a fantastically quirky story that deals with the age-old question of how to handle toothache in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.  Yup.  New face (to me, at least) Eva Holder provides the artwork here,  with an over-exaggerated, cartoony style that perfectly suits Alexander’s offbeat premise.  The payoff to the six-page story is definitely worth the journey, and while there’s nothing tremendously creative at play here, the execution is impressive enough that the tale manages to overcome the potentially derivative genre it inhabits.

Aaaaand finally, we are treated to the fourth chapter of ‘The Last Posse’, Alexander’s ode to the Western, complete with his own unique horror slant.  The appeal of seeing so many iconic Western characters such as Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley and the Cisco Kid interacting with one another in the same frenzied gunfight for survival makes for a pretty strong hook, and Alexander’s writing is packed with action and drama as always.   There is a lot of action here, it has to be said, although the final chunk of the story sets the table for what should be a tense, horrific conclusion.  Alexander’s passion for the subject matter is readily apparent here, and you can almost imagine him sitting at his desk making the ‘pew pew’ noises as he scripts the brutal, frantic gunfight.  Perhaps not quite as strong as some of the previous instalments of this ongoing series, but as a scene-setter for the final chapter, it manages to skilfully move all the pieces into place for the no-doubt epic conclusion.

Overall, this is probably the most consistent instalment of this anthology so far, and features some absolutely top-drawer self-contained stories, with ‘Don’t Read This’ and ‘Cold Blooded’ standing out in particular.  Planet Jimbot’s unique take on the anthology format continues to deliver in spades, and with just one issue to go for them wrap up the ongoing stories, it saddens me to think that we won’t have any more Amazing& Fantastic tales after the next chapter.  A showcase of terrific home-grown talent all slotted together skilfully into a brilliantly varied pick-and-mix.  Get it bought, and make sure you grab the first three issues while you’re at it.  That’s an order!


For more details on this title (including how to get yourself a copy), plus much more Jimbot awesomeness, you can contact them directly by email at planetjimbot@gmail.com


The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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