Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer(s): Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas
Artist(s): Angelica Blevins, Buster Moody, Caitlin Rose Boyle, Jack Forbes
Release Date: 3rd Feb 2016
Anthology series are curious beasts at the best of times – even those outstanding in their field can have the odd dud story tucked in to an otherwise stellar issue. Though apparently it turns out that ‘if we’re lucky’ should perhaps be tacked on to that sentiment.
As with issue one, there’s four short stories to be told herein – but unlike its predecessor, the sinew connecting the four stories is infinitely flimsier this time around, with the only clear linking themes being that their attempts at riffing on existing pop culture archetypes, and some level of incompetence or obtuseness on the part of each of their main characters.
However, unlike the outstandingly detailed cover artwork, there’s not a lot of depth to delve into here.
The first, Detective Dunk, seems to be an attempt to skewer disturbing detective stories – the main character even day-dreaming of being in a film starring Brad Pitt – but speculates as to what might happen if the lead detective were a bumbling, sweaty eejit who nobody takes seriously. In a strange way, it’s nice that the vignette lacks any kind of resolution, though this also results in the story failing to make any kind of point.
Story two, Van Dark, takes aim directly at Star Wars, casting its Darth Vader-alike as a micromanager who’s had enough of his long hours and low pay, endeavouring to screw up as much as he possibly can, and inadvertently succeeding at his tasks anyway.
The third, Stardust, is a thinly-veiled riff/critique of the ending of Watchmen, speculating what would happen to Dr. Manhatt-… sorry, Stardust, the super wizard, actually went out and tried to create life. Casting him as a vindictive and impatient god, it at least has a vague point to make about humanity – flipping the ‘what can be proved’ nature of a deity, and casting the atheists as the quantifiably irrational camp. This is perhaps the most interesting of the four in terms of actual story, though Sean Pryor’s art is a queasy mix of classic and contemporary tropes that sits uneasily on the page.
The final story, Agroman, is something of a wild card, ostensibly telling the story of the conflict between a warrior king and an evil wizard, when it is in fact the bizarre origin story of Stardust from the previous story. It strikes as an odd note to end the book on – a switch in places of this and Stardust would’ve made the book as a whole a less jarring read – but this at least has some satisfyingly twisted artwork from Buster Moody, all bug-eyed insanity and spraying viscera.
Ultimately, whilst the stories in issue one felt at least like they had aspirations to become fables of a sort, these seem to be silliness for the sake of silliness. But the sad fact is that it’s not even the fun kind of silly, that’ll have you smiling despite yourself. The promise of the first issue simply hasn’t been capitalised on. Unless you’re in the mood for something extraordinarily odd, this is perhaps one to leave shelf-bound.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24