Saturday, September 15, 2012

It's Gonna Be Epic! Epics Anthology Launches Today!

Today, Dewey's Comic City hosted the launch party for a new comic anthology, Epics, an action packed anthology from some local New Jersey creators who all have taught at the Kubert School, and funded through Kickstarter. Anthologies are few and far between these days, with the only notable examples I can think of coming out on a regular basis from Dark Horse, so I was curious to check the book out. In all fairness to the somewhat ambiguous ethics of blogging, I am also personally acquainted with a couple of the creators involved, so I look forward to seeing what they've been working on. And I have to say, the book is a triumph all around.

Each issue of Epics will feature four stories, six pages each, set to a certain theme, and this issue's is 1959. All four stories are set in that year, but each is totally different from the others in genre and tone. There's an action story, a science fiction tale, a counter culture youth racing story with a twist, and a hard boiled detective. Each stays true to the roots of the genre, but there are some great twists that you wouldn't see in a story originally published when in the late 50s, or when these different genres were at their height.

The first story is Katyusha, a high flying mystery man story, created by Anthony Marques. A Soviet squad is attacking American cities with planes and a blimp, and only Katyusha, who flies with his jetpack, can stop them. This is the story with the least dialogue to it, but that doesn't mean there isn't a great story here. It's very widescreen, with beautiful cityscapes and a cool dogfight.

The second story, The Iron Ghost, is my favorite of the lot. Created by The Matt Signal favorite Fernando Ruiz, this is the story of scientist Carter Craig, who invents a robot that can be controlled by thought. Craig is not the 50s scientist as mad popular in films like This Island Earth, who wants to benefit mankind. He is an abrasive ass, who cares for no one but himself and has a bunch of habits that get him in deep with the mob. This story has the same feel as classics like the origin of Spider-Man from Amazing Fantasy #15, where you get everything you need to know about the character in six short pages. Ruiz;'s clean style has the influence of his years at Archie Comics, but is still his own, and his dialogue sharp and fun, with touches of classic fifties movie talk. There's a dark undercurrent in the story, and it's bloody conclusion is a shocker.

A Racy Story is an interesting story, with a title that is a punning title that is as clever as the story. The influence of the legendary Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and the equally legendary Joe Kubert loom large in creator Bob C. Hardin's style, and the main character, "Rat Rod Daddy's Daughter" makes a clear homage to Roth's Ratfink. The story, which could have been a simple, "hot girl in her underwear street races a man with a tomato head," story is made more interesting by the narration, done mostly through the memories of main character Holley Rhora. The ending has a great twist in the nature of classic fifties horror comics and The Twilight Zone (which happened to debut in theme year 1959).

The final story, Drake, is a classic piece of detective noir. Fabio Redivo tells the tale of a classic down on his luck private dick with all the ingredients of 50s p.i. story: a femme fatale, a mcguffin, a mysterious organization. As a big fan of crime fiction, I enjoyed the way this played with all the tropes but never felt hackneyed.

Overall, this was an excellent first issue, and I look forward to the second. Both Iron Ghost and Katyusha are looking to be spun off into their own comics, and I'm in for both. If you're not one of the lucky people who were at Dewey's today, you can pick up a copy at New York Comic Con in October, get one on Amazon, and keep up with new press and announcements from the Epics crew on their site.

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