By Dustin Cabeal
The best way to describe All Time Comics is to give a what if type statement. In this case, what if EC Comics had created a superhero line back in the heyday of newspaper print? That is what Josh Bayer has created with this line of books, throwback superhero comics, but with a flair of violence and swearing.
Much like classic superhero comics, we start on some action. Bullwhip is stopping The Mysoginist from interrupting a very 80s punk-inspired concert. My goodness, the social commentary with The Mysoginist is brilliant. His weapon is a microphone; he secretly wants to be whipped and beaten by women. He is picture perfect for this comic book. His dialogue is dated and terrible, he looks like a douche, and he’s not even the main villain of the issue. There’s another plotline involving the future and time traveling. They eventually run together with Bullwhip, of course, coming out on top.
What’s particularly throwback about All Time Comics is that the character’s all have thought bubbles. I can’t recall what I read recently that was going for a throwback Golden Age style, but the reason it didn’t work was the thought bubbles and their awkward use. Everyone has thought bubbles in this comic, and it’s great. It adds so much to the story and characters that even though it’s a very dated way to tell a story in comics, it shows why it was so effective for so long.
Ben Marra’s pencils contribute to the golden age feel of the story. What separates it is the violence and gore, which again, is very EC Comics inspired. Al Milgrom’s inks are wonderful and are enough to make you miss the days that everything was inked rather than digital. Topping off the art is Matt Rota’s coloring with gives it that newsprint feel. I don’t know if this could or would be printed on newsprint, but if they pull an Alterna Comics and do that, I would be amazed and praise Fantagraphics.
The story for Bullwhip is simple, well-plotted and above all else very entertaining. I know that doesn’t seem like much coming from me, but I am not someone that can read Golden Age books. I completely shy away from retro storytelling like All Time Comics because it’s a hard pill to swallow. The fact that I liked this, but actually kind of loved this, speaks to how great Josh Bayer’s creation is. Having read this and Crime Destroyer #1, I’m all in on All Time Comics and will be back for more.
All Time Comics #2 – Bullwhip #1
Writer: Josh Bayer
Penciler: Ben Marra
Inker: Al Milgrom
Colorist: Matt Rota
Letterer: Rick Parker
Publisher: Fantagraphics Press