Hello, and my apologies for the lengthy absence of comic posts. Lots of things in life are changing for me and taking up much of my time, namely, I’m back in college working on my degree in English, and hopefully eventually getting my Law degree. I’m going to give my best effort to be more regular with my reviews and general comic commentary, but my studies come first. I appreciate your patience and hope my writing is enough to keep you around. Now, on to the good stuff…
The Sell: Edgar Rice Burroughs created some of the most celebrated and renowned characters in science fiction and fantasy pulp novels during the early 20th century. His stories of Tarzan and John Carter have spurned major motion pictures and beloved Disney animated features. Now, these characters have lovingly landed in the knowledgeable and capable hands of one of comics most talented genre writers, one Mr. Bill Willingham of Fables fame. Willingham, along with artist Cezar Razek, reaches across the vast cannon of Burroughs’ work, and pulls some of his most exciting personas into one of my favorite epics currently on comic shelves, aptly titled: The Greatest Adventure! This is an incredible story so far.
The Story: Willingham’s tale kicks off through the narrative voice of famed Burroughs’ inventor Jason Gridley, establishing the tone and much of the story’s plot. Gridley had been abducted by a nefarious fellow and transported across the galaxy in order to make the technological devices of several alien worlds, notably Barsoom, work in concert with one of Gridley’s own devices to create a death ray capable of reaching across the stars to attack its targets. Gridley destroys the equipment, causing the villain to pilot his space craft back to earth in order to retrieve another Gridley device and a mysterious crystal needed to facilitate the unnamed miscreant’s deadly plot. It is here that Gridley hijacks an alien warplane and through navigational will power and a lot of luck, crash lands near the home of the Lord and Lordess of the Jungle themselves, Tarzan and Jane. After getting Gridley patched up and hearing his tale, the trio decide to enlist the services of 18 other of Burroughs adventures such as John Carter and Dejah Thoris of Mars, Korak the Killer-Son of Tarzan, Meriem Clayton, and the Oskaloosa Kid. Striking out on their own flying ship, The Venture, the crew find themselves headed toward the Artic circle in full chase of Gridley’s assailant where they run headlong into a…tropical island inhabited with winged humanoids and dinosaurs. Tarzan and dinos. I repeat, Tarzan and frigging DINOS. By this point, the second issue is in full story swing and epic battles ensue featuring surprisingly harsh, although not gory, violence and fearsome feats.
The Style: Cezar Razek is no stranger to Science Fiction or Sword and Sorcery comics. He has put his talents on several of Dynamite Entertainment’s books such as Classic Battlestar Galactica and the Witchblade/Red Sonja crossover. Along with colorist Daniela Miwa, Razek brings art that is nostalgic, yet not stale. The book exudes pulp fiction sci-fi adventure layouts, but with enough modern style and design that makes the title feel approachable to a contemporary audience. The characters are easily recognizable and Razek pulls out beautifully rendered, era appropriate attire with which to clothe them in. The loin cloths, yall. Grade A. Most importantly, the panels are dynamic and fluid, every one conveys motion. Nothing in the lines of panel’s subject or background feel stagnant, every action is perfectly articulated. The Greatest Adventure is simply a gorgeous book.