Review: Mysterious Strangers – Vol. 1

Are you ready for a groovy adventure? One that is full of intrigue, action, and the supernatural all along the backdrop of a psychedelic color scheme? How about the timeless music of The Scarabs? Well, if you answered yes to any of these, then I present to you this hip grouping of stories from the writing mind of Chris Roberson and the drawing skills of Scott Kowalchuk with a full splash of cool color from Dan Jackson. Mysterious Strangers was inspired from the raucous and provocative spy TV shows that littered the 1960s airwaves offering a brand of style and chic to a once basic black and white medium. If you have seen any of the Austin Powers movies, then you know exactly what I am talking about. "Yeah Baby, Yeah!!!"

The twist here though is that Roberson has taken that style and inspiration and he has added a Silver Age superhero element to the spy story that adds a trippy new twist to an already interesting topic. Mysterious Strangers were introduced to us by Oni Press on Free Comic Book Day as Issue #1 came out at that time with Issue #2 also available, but for purchase. Since, four more issues have come out making for a total of six with three distinct stories being introduced. This trade covers those six issues and three stories.

I didn't read the monthly issues, so I came in on this trip completely square. I didn't know anything. I render this as good though as I was able to really enjoy what Roberson and Kowalchuk were able to do here with me being ushered back into those days of my youth in watching shows like The Avengers (spy show, not the supers) and The Prisoner. I found all three tales presented here to be true to that 60s spirit as I remember. And with the exception of the third story, which was average, I found the whole trade to be an immensely enjoyable read full of wit, wisdom, and of course, action, that made this flashback a positive one.

The Mysterious Strangers are a group of powerful persons that began during the times of The Renaissance as a group of protectors of England. Their influence would increase however and they became secret protectors of the world saving mankind from all enemies whether they be foreign, domestic, alien, inter-dimensional, you name it. The current Strangers consist of Verity Mills, a time manipulator and the female of the group, Michael Kono, an energy redirector, Sandoval, a hulking brute who absorbs energy and life force like a sponge, and Absalom Quince, the leader and second generation Stranger of his own who met with an unfortunate incident rendering him without the use of his legs. Together, the Strangers work to stop psycho beauty queens. Agents of a largely unknown group called O.C.C.U.L.T, ancient sun gods, and a group of inter-dimensional alien Nazi types.

The Mysterious Strangers Vol. 1 CoverRoberson's writing is snappy, sharp, and he does a phenomenal job in really developing these characters just through simple interactions with each other. Roberson likewise stays true to the 60's spy genre with the use of detailed evil plans completely explained by the bad guys when they think things are won, confident actions and expressions of our heroes, and of course, the slipping away of bad guys during the final battle (with one exception). Robinson has skills and his script really places you back to that time period.

Kowalchuk's art complements Roberson's writing perfectly depicting each character in their own aura. These strangers are individuals with uniqueness that come together to take care of business. The action is fantastic and works well with the written word.

Now no 60s era comic style would be complete without super splashes of bold and bright coloring. Dan Jackson doesn't just nail the genre and the style, he adds the finishing touches to a perfect trio of creation making Mysterious Strangers Volume #1 a great read for those of my generation as well as for those younger folks who grew up watching the bright bold colors of the X-Men on Saturday mornings. If you give these strangers a try, you will not be disappointed.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Chris Roberson Artist: Scott Kowalchuk Publisher: Oni Press Price: $19.99 Release Date: 1/29/14