Monday, 14 April 2014

Comic Review - Amazing and Fantastic Tales Issue #1

A review by guest blogger and all-round superstar Richard Williams.

Published by: Planet Jimbot
Author: Anthology
Artist: Anthology

What we have here is a mixed bag of bizarre stories that wear their influences proudly upon the sleeve. Some of the tales are prose whilst others are presented as comics but on the whole the quality of the writing is good and the stories almost all ended in a way that left me wanting more (which I consider a good thing).

First up we have ‘Kroom - Part 1’, written by Jim Alexander with artwork from Glenn B Fleming, which tells the tale of a mysterious man with power over electricity who has the ability to jump between worlds/dimensions. At least I think that’s what it’s about. This is a very short introduction (only 17 panels) and the dialogue is very rushed and also feels a little cliched in places. The fast pace is to the story’s detriment. The artwork is nice but nothing to get excited about however I appreciate that they used colour. On the whole this was my least favourite story of the bunch but I would like to see if it gets any better.

The second story is ‘A Mischief of Devils: The Duke and the Thief’ by Tom Carroll with art from the interestingly named Fin Cramb. The art in question is a couple of black and white character sketches used to illustrate the beginning and end of the story, which I mention just so you don’t think this is another comic format. I enjoyed the form of Tom Carroll’s prose immensely and it’s clear that he considers himself something of a wordsmith. The words flowed in a way that made it very easy to read and had me admiring the turns of phrase and little touches of style. This flamboyant approach works very well with the short story format and elevates it above more mundane offerings but more importantly was much needed for this story given that so much of the text was world building and demonic political exposition. I feel the tagline for this story, “Hell is a place, politics is everywhere”, sums up the feel of the story perfectly.

The third offering, again written by Jim Alexander, is ‘The Last Posse - Part 1’ and follows the form of a wild west supernatural mystery in which Wyat Earp and other prominent figures from that era of history find themselves in a strange and dangerous place. Alexander’s writing in this story, another straight up short story, is significantly better than that found in the introductory comic ‘Kroom’ (which gives me hope for that series). As an introduction this story was perhaps the best of the bunch and ended at exactly the right moment to get the reader keen for Part 2.

Next up is ‘Deadlines: The Wererats of London’ by Luke Cooper who handles both writer and artist duties for this comic. Overall this was my favourite story of the lot. The black and white artwork  is minimalistic to an extent that wouldn’t suit many stories but which fits here aptly and reminds me, slightly, of Queen and Country. The tale follows the exploits of a female journalist exploring the London underground for evidence of the eponymous Wererat and getting more than she bargained for. It’s a story format that will likely put older readers in mind of Kolchak: The Night Stalker and maybe even, to a lesser extent, The X-files and this is something I’m very keen to follow further.

The last story is ‘The Roustabout’, a single page first chapter by Lynsey May and Fin Cramb set on an oilrig. As teasers go it has much to recommend it. It is nicely written and so little is revealed, so much left uncertain, we’re not even sure anything is seriously wrong. Only the place of publication tells me that something very weird (and possibly Cthulhu-ish I reckon) is about to happen. I would have liked a little more to happen, and thus have a more satisfying hook, but I’ll certainly read the next chapter when I get to the next issue of Amazing & Fantastic Tales.

So… should you read it? I would say yes. There’s some nice talent on show here and even though not all the stories hit the nail bang centre on the head even the worst of them come damn close.

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