One of the great anthologies of the 1980s and '90s is back with a zero issue that brings lots of fun and excitement for no charge at all — yes, it's free. For no cost at all, you get to try out three terrific stories from the fertile mind of Dave Elliott and his talented artistic collaborators.
"Odyssey" is a really fun Captain America pastiche featuring a character named Blazin' Glory that co-exists perfectly between a flashback-style story and a much more modern setting. Artist Parris Cullins knocks the flashback-style story out of the park — yes, that is a pun because Blazin' Glory carries a baseball bat and rescues President Roosevelt from some Nazi saboteurs, under the command of the evil Purple Claw, at a charity baseball game. The story is wonderful fun, but what really makes it special is that the art is a perfect pastiche of the work of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the co-creators of Captain America. Cullins perfectly captures the spirit and energy of Simon and Kirby's work, with slightly awkwardly-drawn characters bursting out of the panel, as if panels are not strong enough to contain their massive kinetic energy. I really was fooled for a moment by the story — I really believed that I was looking at a classic reprint. That's high praise for a book like this.
That story is immediately followed by a much stranger story, a modern origin story that takes Captain America's origin and twists and turns it so that there is much more going on that might immediately be apparent. There are strange mystic elements that will lead this story in interesting new dimensions — I'm hooked to read both more "classic" Blazin' Glory and more of his modern origin.
Second up in this book is "Carpe Diem", the deliriously silly take of a group seven of assassins — one for each day of the week — who all hate Monday (because he sucks!). This story is crazy, wild and desperately wacky — a tale that I wanted to spend more time exploring. And the art by Rhoald Marcelius is perfectly well suited to the story, all tiny panels and silly character designs, funny asides and clever moments. This story was a treat.
The comic wraps up with "The Weirding Willows," a story that mashes up Bram Stoker, Lewis Carroll, Frank Baum, Jules Verne and a host of other writers to explore the power of myth, drive some adventures, and embrace some mysteries. This first story has an evil Cheshire Cat at its heart, but I think what will really drive this strip will be the intriguing relationships between the characters and the deep mysteries that bring these characters together. I'm going to guess that Frankenstein's Monster, deeply misunderstood and emotionally both childish and complicated, will be the breakout hero of this story. Barnaby Bagenda and Jessica Kholinne deliver some wonderfully sumptuous art in this story, art that seems tremendous resonant and traditional while also feeling contemporary and exciting.
Dave Elliott's new A1 is a perfect download at a perfect price. I'm looking forward to the issues that will actually cost money — there's a lot of great stuff in here.
For more information on A1 comic, go to deevelliott.deviantart.com.