Sunday, January 25, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: Amazing Adventures of the Escapist volume 2

The second volume of The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist takes a step up in quality from volume one. We start the book out with a supposed EC-created Escapist story, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Joe Staton. The two legendary creators channel EC right down to the page design and lettering as they tell the story of an undercover Nazi who seeks to unleash the mind of Adolf Hitler on the world during the fifties. His battle with the Escapist makes a far superior tale of fifties-era corruption than the previous volume’s Chaykin story.

Two tales of the Escapenot, a young cartoony version of the title character, fill this volume. I don’t have much to say about them other than they’re beyond bland.

Stuart Moore and Astounding Space Thrills’ Steve Conley combine forces for another great tale: The Escapist 2966. The future Escapist lives in a giant key shaped space station and he is summoned from it to battle the threat of Roboputer. I don’t want to give any of the twists of this one away, but it is fun stuff harkening back to Weird Science or Mystery in Space.

Matt Kindt writes and draws an odd little story that alternates between the Escapist’s comic adventures and the story of one of its creators. An okay piece, but nothing as moving and telling as I think it was meant to be.

Scott Morse draws a cute little short called “The Boy Who Would Be the Escapist”. A fun little tale of a kid who finds a key and thinks he has become his favorite hero. Probably the best of the non-Escapist Escapist stories in any of the first 3 volumes.

Roy Thomas comes up next for a prose piece, as he writes a supposed Alter Ego article about the fictitious Fab Comics Group. Easily the best of the fake history stories in any of these collections.

Dean Haspiel draws a rip-roaring story in the style of Jack Kirby where Luna Moth comes under attack by a Fourth World-style alternate of herself. She finds herself in a fascinating alternate look at where her life might lead.

Brian K. Vaughan and Roger Petersen conclude volume two with a story of the Escapist’s ally Big Al as he is confronted by the Iron Chain with his own significance in the world. A good breakdown of what it means to be a “sidekick” in modern comics.

Unlike volume one, volume two takes the Escapist and uses his fictional history to craft a plethora of fine examples of superhero storytelling. Highly recommended.

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