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STRANGEly fascinating

Brian Hibbs

Wow, I really loved Marvel’s STRANGE TALES #1.

If this was an attempt to “counter-program” DC’s WEDNESDAY COMICS, it’s a pretty solid drubbing — there’s a tremendous amount of energy and passion on display on most of the strips here that I’m finding lacking from WC (which is beautiful, and all, but I found myself suddenly stopping reading WC at around week 3, saying I’ll read again when the whole thing is complete, which I guess will get me there around 9/23)

Like with most anthologies, there’s not a lot here of real lasting and permanent value, but even the slightest pieces are inventive and fun — for example, Paul Pope’s “Inhumans” story is nearly an episode of Seinfeld on the nothing-happens scale; it is eight pages about trying to open a can of dog food… but what a glorius eight pages it is!

There’s some seriously mental work on here: who would have ever (EVER!) thought you’d see a Junko Mizuno or Jason “Spider-Man” story? Or Dash Shaw doing “Dr. Strange”? Man, pure beauty!

There were a few bits that didn’t work for me: I thought the Johnny Ryan pages weren’t “Johnny Ryan enough” — I wanted to see more feces and blood and cursing! And I was oddly cold from the Peter Bagge “Hulk” story, especially for something that was so famously “drawered” for being… too something or another. While his “Megalomaniacal Spider-Man” was pretty on-the-nose, this first third of “Hulk” almost felt too sit-com-y for my taste.

The real winner for me, however, was Nick Bertozzi’s “M.O.D.O.K.” story, which got me dangerously close to a tear. It was a real winner. IN fact, between that and the Pope story, it seems to me that these cartoonists are probably better off to not do the “big” Marvel characters, as there is more to be mined from the c-listers.

I don’t know really how to rack this book — it doesn’t belong in the Marvel section of the store at all. Marvel’s standard readership isn’t going to know how to react to this book, whatsoever, and I don’t think it will be all that great to “lead” Marvel readers to a wider set of styles.

Its also a book that seems to REQUIRE hand-selling — at least three quarters of the people I pointed to it had no idea it was out (even staring them in the face), but each of them was “Holy Shit! I want!!”

Am I the only person who finds it deeply ironic that this came out the same week as the announcement of the Disney deal? I wouldn’t count a lot on projects like this coming too much in the New World Order, but maybe I’ll be surprised?

Overall, I thought this was an EXCELLENT comic book. What did YOU think?

-B

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