Sunday, March 19, 2006

REVIEWING: "The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist"

"This trade paperback reprints/collects the limited series published by Dark Horse Comics in 2004, and it's by Michael Chabon (tilt your head to the right and look at the cover illo above for perspective).

I was really hoping for something much more from this series. When I first read about it, I thought perhaps someone had done a modern version of "Mr. Miracle", because, after all, it's about an escape artist. The character does much more than that though; he helps all those who are oppressed.

Sounds like a good concept, but I found the tales contained within these pages rather dry and unimaginative. The artwork ranges from good to fair, and is a real mixture of styles that range from the average sort of thing you might see in an early Image title, to manga. There seems no real thread to hold these stories together. And I really hate to say that about this series because it has so very many great people working on it. Fine creators like Howard Chaykin and Jim Starlin and Gene Colan and Kyle Baker and many others whose work I usually always enjoy. But perhaps the only artist that seemed to capture any of this character's style was Chaykin, whose 1930-ish art seems suited any at all for this theme.

The origin of the character is that his father was one of many such "escapists" throughout history, passing this legacy down from father to son, and naturally there's the typical "league of evil" that's trying to make slaves of the world. Pretty much, that's it.

I shouldn't give all the credit to this series to Michael Chabon just because his name's on the cover, since Kevin McCarthy writes just as much or more of the stories within.

Chadon and McCarthy create a psuedo-comics history of the character and imaginary publishers, and name drop so many actual publishers and creators that it amazes me they are not riddled with a hundred law suits.

I'm sure they meant all of this as a tribute to all the fine artists and writers from both the Golden and Silver Age of Comics, but it simply just didn't hit the mark. I can only give it a personal rating of a fair "C" for effort, but hardly consider it worth the $17.95 cover price for the trade paperback."

And so went my original review of The Amazing Advs. of The Escapist, and I really hated this review because of all the great contributors to this series. Surely with the likes of Chaykin, Baker, Mike Baron, Val Mayerik, Bill Sienkiewicz, Starlin, Gene Colan and others, I was missing something in reading this collection? So with this in mind, I went back and RE-read it, or, at least parts of it.

I found one story that after a second read, I liked very much, called "Old Flame", which involves the character Luna Moth, written by Kevin McCathy and beautifully painted by Dan Brereton. The story concerns this beautiful female character being pulled into a mystical book and having an attraction to a demon, or like the demon says it, "There is no other love affair so timeless or as destructive as that between moth and flame!"

Then I looked at the Starlin story again; one caled "Reconings", which is done mostly without words and it reminded me of his great bronze-age period of artwork with many a scene of "Death". Those were scenes in which he excelled and obviously favorites of his own as well.

And the pin-up pages at the end of this collection were very nice.

I still don't consider this being worth nearly twenty bucks, but you may think differently. I'll raise my grade from a "C" up to a "B", and recommend you read other reviews of it besides my own.


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