Saturday, September 05, 2009

Strange Tales #1 (of 3)

Various
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Marvel's latest anthology Strange Tales collects works from well-known creators in the world of alternative and literary comics and gives them free reign over their licensed characters to tell what stories they will. The end result is a fun collection full of nice art and odd, but compelling stories.
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Nick Betozzi's introduction "Lo, a Watcher!" features a Watcher, one of the big bald cosmic guys with giant noggins, but Betozzi brings new meaning to the word, as he's gazing into the window of a showering woman. An appropriate beginning to this series, as most of the creators take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to butcher the characters fans have come to know and love.
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One of the highlights of this book is Paul Pope's Inhumans comic, with an exasperated Lockjaw helping his masters to defeat a variety of bad guys in an effort to get to the dogfood they've promised him. I love Pope's art here, and he just kills the cover for this issue too.
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John Leavitt and Molly Crabapple's offering features Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) in a strange Victorian alternative universe where she's being married off to John Jameson (Morbius). This is very, very odd, but I enjoyed the over-the-top art.
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My favorite offering of the bunch was Junko Mizune's "Welcome To Spider-Town" which sees Spider-Man and Mary Jane moving into a city populated by spiders, where Spider-Man's powers are basically useless, as everyone has them, and they are the freaks of the town. Mizune's art is amazing, with all kinds of fabulous designs for shops and buildings. The story's really cute too, and after reading this, I can't wait to receive my copy of Junko's Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu that I ordered.
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Dash Shaw's Doctor Strange story was appropriately very strange, as he battles Nightmare and his self as he tries not to yawn and tempt sleep. Shaw has the best use of color throughout this entire showcase of talented artists, and has some fantastic, elaborate designs within his panels.
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James Kochalka's team of multi-colored Hulks is a story that I know he pitched years ago, so it's finally nice to see it come to fruition here. Funny that Marvel has actually created a red Hulk since his idea, but the blue and white hulks in this comic are fun. And I like the ending.
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Comic Book Holocaust's Johnny Ryan has a silly little story featuring the Punisher, but his best contribution here is the series of panels with Marvel's Most Embarrassing Moments. Wolverine's cameo is the best of the lot, earning a big laugh from your truly.
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Namor is the feature of Michael Kupperman's (Tales Designed To Thrizzle) comic, with a great portrayal of the Sub-Mariner. Plenty of people love that first panel, and it's true: it's pretty much perfect.
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The only comic that seems like it's going to continue into the second issue is Peter Bagge's Hulk feature which, honestly, was probably my least favorite of the offerings. But that being said, it was still more entertaining than a lot of the stuff Marvel puts out.
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The Modok feature by Nick Bertozzi was a close second for me for the best and is probably the most creative story offered here, with nice art and coloring, and delightfully disturbing images.
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Nicholas Gurewitch contributes little strips akin to the kind many of his readers are familiar with in The Perry Bible Fellowship, and are pretty funny. Both of his pages got a chuckle out of me.
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Finally, Jason rounds out this first issue with a simply-illustrated story using Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus and Parker's buddy Flash. It's a cute gag, and a fine note to go out on.

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