The comic with the worst title I've read since G: Honor and Curse ends up being the best entry in throwback anthology comics I've read in a while. I've been cautious of Will Lill Comics since their initial entries to superhero comics seemed not much more than forced attempts at nostalgia publishing, but Fun Adventure Comics actually features some decent storytelling told in an intentionally retro style with unusually quality art to match. Color me surprised folks. The book is divided into three stories, the first being "Alex Miracle," a throwback atomic age hero story about a dimension hopping hero in the vein of galactic expatriates like Flash Gordon. The story when broken down is incredibly simple and doesn't feature much in the way of excitement, but it properly mimics an older style of writing in ways that go beyond the purely superficial. It's a script that actually has the pacing and language of a vintage Marvel story like early Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four, impressively authentic in places. The art by Ernest Edwards, David Vance, and Warren Montgomery isn't a dead ringer for the art of the 50's and 60's, but utilizes a pretty good mimic of Marvel Method panel composition and has a poppy aesthetic that is pleasing to read. It's hard to tell stories that authentically feel like the could have come from a different era, and while the value of that kind of intentional recreation is debatable, the quality here is actually impressive to me. Cheers.
Story two, "The Midnight Stranger" is the oddity, as it is the only story in the book that explicitly isn't a self-contained narrative. A weird blend of cosmic superhero mythology and EC Horror, the story is easily the most modern in aesthetic and the most out of place in this retro anthology. It isn't bad per se, but the art fluctuates wildly near the middle, and the beat it ends on is a headscratcher in terms of tone and storytelling. Almost intriguing, but the gaps that left me curious could easily just be bad writing.
The final story, the most complete and likeable of the bunch, slides the throwback forward in time to the sci-fi comics of the 70's, with a story that reads like Heavy Metal lite. "Captain Jain Marlee" is a quick sci-fi mystery with a surprisingly clever key to the who-dunnit, even if the culprit is guessable for other reasons. Again, the art has strong old-fashioned composition, recalling but not recreating the visual style of another age. Ron Fortier lends the short some nice personality and humor, making me hope that in future issues of 'Fun Adventure' we might get more stories set in Marlee's universe.
Fun Adventure Comics may not linger strongly in my brain by the end of the year, but this is a comic designed like many failures but somehow succeeding and looking more confident than a lot of their small-publisher competitors. Retro is hard and often a lazy patch for a lack of forward gazing creativity, but here it is a comfortable if slight guilty pleasure, administered to visually by some talented artists. I'll be interested to see where this book goes in the future, and that is praiseworthy enough for me.
[su_box title="Score: 3/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]