There is nothing more frustrating than reading an unfinished work with zero chance of seeing the final product. An advanced readers copy of an out of print book. An ashcan for a title that never comes out. Or a comic book that seems too rushed for its own good.
Pulp era legends Doc Savage, The Shadow and the Avenger team up to stop the end of the world. The tale spans the globe, crosses time, and drags in notable names from the 30s and 40s. Fans of this era or of pulp heroes will have page after page of great Easter eggs and will more than enjoy every detail. However, any one outside of that market will most likely find this comic lacking.
First the good stuff. As with any comic, many men and women went into the production of this book and their hard work deserves to be recognized. The lettering is phenomenal. Subtle touches to distinguish characters’ voices and perfect placements. While some people might not think this is anything special, comic lettering is one of the easiest things to ignore, but the most glaring when done wrong. No worries here.
The original idea is a good one. I have no doubt the original synopsis of this series sounded like a great idea. These three legends team up to form Justice Inc. The Avenger is born within the pages of this comic and while I have enjoyed Doc Savage and the Shadow before this was my first experience with The Avenger. I’m sure it wont be my last. This malleable hero bent on vengeance has unlimited potential.
But then it all falls apart. The story becomes hard to follow and becomes illogical. Even in comics about crazy ideas there are certain rules. The villains have a conversation, meanwhile the heroes fly half way across the world and are knee deep in horrible events, but then the story jumps back to the bad guys. Even in a story that involves time travel there should be a chain of events. One part ends before the other begins or in the case of using “meanwhile” they take place within the same short amount of time. This is just one example of many in the series.
(As an aside this book has many double page spreads. This is impossible to read on a tablet or as a PDF. Yes, I could scroll back and forth between pages to read everything. However, in 2015 I feel comics should not only put big reveals on even pages but also pace with digital readers in mind.)
Worst of all though is the coloring. I have faith that the original pencils were of high quality. The framework looks good. But something falls apart in either the inking or coloring. Every page looks muddy. At first I thought it was a printing error (or scanning error in my case) but every single letter of text is crystal clear. Yet the art is like trying to make out shapes in the road while your windshield fogs up on a rainy day. Maybe it was a stylistic choice to honor the printing traditions of the pulps. This would be a cute idea for a cover but page after page of this blurriness left me with hurt eyes and an aversion to any of the continuing stories of Justice Inc.