Fusion Anthology

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
Fusion Anthology is a new idea in comics collections. Housed in a DVD-style "N-case" collectors' box, buyers receive a graphic novel, a supplemental booklet, some trading cards, a poster, a bookmark, and lots of other stuff for $19.95.

That's a lot of stuff, a whole lot of stuff, and it would be awfully damn cool if, say, DC put out a similar edition of All-Star Superman or something. After all, with a book like that, you get a great story with terrific art, and kinds of great things to celebrate that greatness. But to celebrate a new anthology that features mostly mediocre work by budding creators is a bit over the top. It's a lot of sizzle without a lot of steak.

One of the things that I struggle with as a reviewer is how to review content by new creators. I almost always want to give such work the benefit of the doubt, and judge it by the sincerity and potential behind the comic as much as for its aesthetic quality. Even George Perez and Jim Lee once were awful; why not give brand new creators, especially self-publishers, the benefit of the doubt? In fact, on one occasion, I decided not to submit a negative review of a self-published comic that had horrible art. Why rip someone for just learning the ropes?

But in its presentation, Fusion Anthology asks to be considered alongside the big boys. This is not some small $3.50 black-and-white comic. This is a comic with full process color on slick paper packaged in a fancy case and costing about as much as a copy of the paperback edition of Watchmen or Seven Soldiers. And sitting alongside the big boys, it's not worth the money.

Fusion Anthology features eight short comic stories that all apparently integrate into a larger universe. In the book, readers meet characters like Breakthru, a roguish professional thief, who stars for four pages. Next readers meet "I am King" and his protectors the Garb, as they break up a robbery of an ancient jewel or something (the story's not clear) in six pages. Next comes a character called either Armor Michelle or ArmorChelle (I think ArmorChelle is a nickname) as she engages in a long interior monologue and fights some bad guys (and, I think, loses, though the story's not clear on that point to me) in six poorly-paced pages. We also meet Martha Savage of the Doom Guard as she engages in four pages of high-camp adventure fighting the evil Dr. Sardonic. And we meet Les Corsairs, a group of female space pilots who kind of just hang around their spaceship for five pages, having what apparently is intended as witty repartee. And a bunch of other unmemorable characters.

Short comic stories are notoriously difficult. Even the most experienced pros have trouble telling coherent stories in six pages or less. In this comic, frankly, the creators seem overwhelmed by the task. Stories seem over-plotted or poorly paced, cramming too many panels onto a page, and trying to add as much detail as possible so that readers get hooked on the stories. If there had been more length for each story, the creators might not have felt as rushed and the stories might have made more sense. Instead, we get a jumble that by the end feels overwhelming.

The posters and such are actually quite nice. Like supplemental features on the DVD, they add an extra level of fun to the product. The "N-Case" is an odd idea, but it does help the comic to stand out on the stands. I do think the cover logo is unreadable (why not choose one of the logos shown in the supplemental booklet instead?) and is even partially covered up by the cover art, which seems rather self-defeating to me.

If a DVD isn't entertaining, it doesn't matter how nice its supplemental features are. I wish Fusion Anthology was worth the asking price, but it's not.

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