Friday, May 31, 2013

Tomorrow Stories Specials Review

Tomorrow Stories Special
DC Comics - America's Best Comics
64/ea. = 128 pages (2006)
$6.99/ea. = $13.98 total

Published: Tomorrow Stories Special #1-2 (of 2)

Contributors: Alan Moore, Kevin Nowlan, Michelle Madsen, Hilary Barta, Todd Klein, Steve Moore, Melinda Gebbie, Tony Avina, Cameron Stewart, Randy Mayor, Rick Veitch, Wildstorm FX, Gene Ha, Andrew Pepoy, Eric Shanower, Jeremy Cox, Joyce Chin, and Art Adams

  • "I, Robert." - Jack B. Quick is the boy genius of Queerwater, Kansas.  He invents a chilling artificial intelligence out of a wheelbarrow, scarecrow, and some old electronic parts.  He names it Robert and it slowly usurps mankind as the dominant lifeform on the planet.  Jack created it and only he has any chance to stop the robot's nefarious plan!  
  • "The Big Seep" - Splash Brannigan is an animated puddle of four-dimensional ink.  He was sealed up in an ink bottle for thirty years until girl comic book artist Daisy Screensaver freed him.  He's been bothering her ever since.  Now Splash wants to be a crime noir detective and sets up shot in a bad part of town.  His first client is a looker and somethings fishy with her story.  Can Splash and Daisy solve the crime before they end up as the next victims?
  • "Doom Date of the Dusk Duo!" - Cobweb is the premier female hero of Indigo City and aided by her trusty assistant Clarice.  Cobweb receives a mysterious note telling her to remember the significance of June 14th or she is doomed!  She and Clarice reminisce about the origins of the various Cobwebs and their assistants through the ages trying to solve the mystery.  
  • "Jack O'Nines' 19 Incarnations!" - Johnny Future crosses a time bridge to four billion years in the future and become a hero of the Grand Array.  He will eventually be succeeded by his niece Jonni Future and once met her in a chance encounter on the time bridge.  Johnny heads out to capture the thief Jack O'Nines and is amazed at the time paradox within the villain's lair.  Here time stands still and all possibilities exist simultaneously.  What strange phenomena will he find and can he stop the Jack?
  • "A Greyshirt Primer" - Greyshirt is the science hero champion of Indigo City. He wears a mask and chain-mail armor as a secret weapon against criminals.  An A-Z Greyshirt adventure through Indigo City with a beloved artist in tow.  Tribute to the late Will Eisner.
  • "The Lethal Luck of Magister Ludi" - A far-out Silver Age adventure of the America's Best team!  Tom Strong, Cobweb, Splash Brannigan, Promethea, and Johnny Future welcome new reserve member Fancy O'Keefe in true ABC style by involving her in a lethal adventure against an interstellar gambler!  The team tests their luck against a house that always wins.  Will Fancy survive her first caper?  Told in four parts.  
  • "Little Margie in Misty Magic Land" - Little Margie travels through Misty Magic Land with goddess Promethea and her Chinese companion, Chinky.  It appears Misty Magic Land is starting to fall apart and the inhabitants are fleeing.  Is it too late for Margie and Promethea to save Misty Magic Land?
  • "Worlds Within Worlds" - Jonni Future inherits her Uncle's house and discovers he was the superhero Johnny Future.  She takes on the mantle of greatest hero of the Grand Array and continues his legacy.  One day Jonni discovers a secret message in a comic book her Uncle wrote.  She finds an apparently abandoned crystal fortress and is amazed at what she uncovers inside - a time-displaced paradox!  Guess who's waiting to greet her!
  • "How Come Nobody Likes the First American These Days?" - The First American and his partner U.S. Angel are genetically-modified superheroes and ridiculously dysfunctional.  F.A. muses about Mistress Fruit Pies and ends up taking over the entire country just to satisfy his evil cravings.  Can U.S. Angel talk him out of his plan for world domination of fruit pies?   

Pros: Alan Moore scripts several of the stories, the stories are longer than regular issues of Tomorrow Stories, decent art, fun science fiction/crime noir/superhero satire, America's Best team story was great, a Promethea story

Cons: A lot of different art styles and characters, anthology format, people may not like all of the characters, the last time we see most of these characters

Mike Tells It Straight: The original Tomorrow Stories series (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) ran from 1999 to 2002 and was an anthology book featuring several stories per issue.  Every story was scripted by Alan Moore with an artist/co-creator for each character.  The series was well-received and earned an Eisner award for Best Anthology Series.  It only lasted for twelve issues and I have to guess Moore got burned out after producing a ton of work (he was writing all of the books for the ABC line).  Could be the artists had other projects to work on too.

Whatever the reason Tomorrow Stories ended in 2002, it resurfaced with two specials in 2006 featuring the regular characters from the original series and a few additional ABC faces (like Promethea).  It was nice seeing the characters again after their hiatus and especially in longer stories.  Most of the stories are really good if you liked the original series and the specials are a great addition.  Definitely worth checking out and they were never reprinted.

TO BUY and Recommendations:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

ABC: A-Z Mini-Series Review

DC Comics - America's Best Comics
One-Shot Mini-Series
32/ea. = 128 pages (2006)
$3.99/ea. = $15.96 total

Published: ABC: A-Z, Greyshirt and Cobweb #1; ABC: A-Z, Terra Obscura and Splash Brannigan #1; ABC: A-Z, Tom Strong and Jack B. Quick #1; ABC: A-Z, Top 10 and Teams #1

Contributors: Rick Veitch, Steve Moore, Melinda Gebbie, Peter Hogan, Gene Ha, Zander Cannon, Art Lyon, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Wendy Broome, Jose Villarrubia, Todd Klein, Wildstorm FX, and Terry Dodson

Synopsis: Behold the origins and secrets of the greatest heroes from America's Best Comics!
  • "Playing the Mind Gorilla!" - Greyshirt is Indigo City's greatest mystery man and Doctor Heinrich C. Claw plans to destroy him with a gang of psycho-enhanced gorillas!  First he makes the gorillas review the details of Greyshirt's career and secret weapons.  Can Greyshirt withstand the simian onslaught or will he become the mind-controlled puppet of Claw?
  • "Where It All Began" - The Cobweb's past is chronicled in a cheerful pin-up calendar.  See her as a pirate, a robber, French royalty, and through the Golden/Silver/Modern ages of superheroes.  Meet her arch-villains, lovely companion Clarice, and then celebrate the holidays.  
  • "The Lonely Galaxy Guide to Terra Obscura" - Learn the fascinating history of Terra Obscura - a bizarre counterpart to the ABC Earth as discovered by Tom Strong.  It's inhabited by Tom Strange and a bevy of superheroes including The Black Terror, The Ghost, Fighting Yank, Princess Pantha, the team S.M.A.S.H., and many others.  
  • "Splash Brannigan Conquers the Universe!" - Splash gets ready to take the comics world by storm by signing with Kaput Komics.  His career is short-lived after Daisy tries to elevate the art form.  What's an unemployed Splash to do?
  • Tom Strong is the science-hero of Millennium City and has lived for more than 100 years.  Marvel as he tells his astonishing origin and describes the incredible adventures over his long career.  Meet the Strong Family including his wife Dhalua, daughter Telsa, talking gorilla King Solomon, and mechanical man-servant Pneuman.  Learn about his home, tools, friends, and foes.  What does the future hold for this daring hero?
  • "Jack B. Quick - Boy Inventor" - Jack gives us a tour of Queerwater, Kansas and some of his zany experiments like a giant spider, strange attractor, and his neighbor Schrodinger.  
  • "Badge of Honor: Policing the City of Dreams" - Leni Muller writes her autobiography which gives a history of the amazing city of Neopolis. She describes it's origins and how the Omniversal Precinct #10 came to be, including a brief introduction to all of the officers.
  • "America's Best vs. America's Worst" - The America's Best team made up of Tom Strong, Splash Brannigan, Promethea, Johnny Future, and Cobweb take on the America's Worst team of Paul Saveen, Jack Faust, Yadrazza Pel, and Edward "Flip-Face" Platty.  
Pros: Nice covers by Terry Dodson, good to see some of these heroes after their own series ended, the Top 10 story is awesome, these stories haven't been reprinted

Cons: One-shot stories without any relation to each other (no over-arching plot), no actual Alan Moore contribution, many different art styles, Cobweb calendar seemed a little bit like a cop-out by artist Gebbie, no Promethea or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Mike Tells It Straight: This series of one-shots features origins and introductions to a host of heroes from America's Best Comics.  The format is simple with two stories per issue featuring two different heroes or teams.  Alan Moore was nowhere to be found in the series, but the storytelling was well-maintained by his collaborators.  Greyshirt, Cobweb, Jack B. Quick, and Splash Brannigan were all featured in the anthology book Tomorrow Stories (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) which ran from 1999-2002.  Only Greyshirt had a mini-series in 2001 while the others remained anthology fodder for their entire publication history.  It's interesting to note two Tomorrow Stories specials were released the same year as ABC A-Z.  I would guess ABC had a small revival in 2006.

Tom Strong ran from 1999-2006 (Vol. 1-6)and had two spinoff titles: Tom Strong's Terrific Tales (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2)  from 2002-2005 along with Terra Obscura (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) from 2003-2004.  Top 10 ran from 1999-2001 with prequel Top 10: The Forty-Niners (by original creators Moore and Ha) in 2005 and mini-series Top 10: Beyond the Farthest Precinct in 2005-2006.  The origin story here by Gene Ha and Peter Hogan was excellent and never reprinted as far as I can tell (we'll see if it's included, but not advertised in the Absolute Top 10 coming out in 2013).

Missing are stories/origins for Promethea or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is quite a shame since they're excellent works and fairly popular.  I found this mini-series (or series of one-shots) to be a pleasant surprise and nice refresher for the ABC heroes.  It didn't feel overly canned as a standard origin special and read more like continuing adventures of the heroes.  I'm disappointed Moore didn't contribute directly to the stories, but I imagine his dealings with DC became strained yet again in the mid-2000s.  I highly recommend picking these issues up if you like the ABC universe and especially since they don't appear to be collected anywhere else.

TO BUY and Recommendations:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tomorrow Stories Book Two Hardcover Review

Tomorrow Stories Vol. 2
DC Comics - America's Best Comics
160 pages
$24.99 (2004) Hardcover
$17.99 (2004) Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781401201654

Contributors: Alan Moore, Kevin Nowlan, Jim Baikie, Melinda Gebbie, Hilary Barta, Joyce Chin, Dame Darcy, Rick Veitch, Wildstorm FX, Bad@$$, David Baron, Nick Bell, Chris Chuckry, Jeremy Cox, and Todd Klein

Reprints: Tomorrow Stories #7-12 (of 12)

Synopsis: An anthology book featuring the further adventures of a group of exciting heroes:

A young man arrives in Indigo City with big ideas
Greyshirt is the mysterious science-hero of Indigo City.  His origin is shrouded in mystery and he strikes fear into the hearts of the legions of the underworld.  Apparently bulletproof, Greyshirt uses a suit of chain mail under his clothes to give him an edge over the criminal element.
  • A taxi driver without a license is driving home one night when he accidentally runs into a pedestrian.  The cabbie doesn't stop and the guy ends up being Greyshirt.  Will remorse get the best of the cabbie and turn him back toward the side of good?
  • "Thinx" - A young man arrives in Indigo City to find his fortune, but ends up embroiled in a crime he didn't want to commit.  Will Greyshirt get to the bottom of it and prove the young man is innocent?  
  • "Greyshirt the Musical!" - It's a musical version of your favorite grey-clad hero as he waxes poetic over Indigo City's charms.
  • "...For a Blue Lady" - Lapis Lazuli is Greyshirt's most deadly and desirable foe.  Learn her bizarre origin when she became a woman made of sapphire.  Greyshirt struggles with his quasi-love for her and pledge to battle crime.  
  • "Vermin" - Hitler and all his top Nazis are reincarnated as roaches in an old ladies kitchen.  They attempt a takeover, but don't count on Greyshirt to be a friendly neighbor with a can of roach spray. 
  • "Strands of Desire" - Greyshirt investigates the mysterious crime-fighter known as Cobweb.  He gets in the middle of a battle between her and the Money Spider, but ends up looking like a fool.  Will he uncover her secret identity or be outwitted by an experienced fox?
Jack B. Quick is the young genius of Queerwater Creek, a small farming town in the midwest United States. His young age belies an incredibly inquisitive intellect, almost to a point of mad indifference to the laws of nature.  His parents are often unwitting sports to Jack's wild experiments.  What wild invention will he dream up or absolute law of physics will he break next?
  • "Why the Long Face?" - Jack sets traps for the kidnapping aliens abducting good, honest people in the midwest.  He catches an alien, but will his quest for knowledge trample extraterrestrial 'human' rights?
  • "The Facts of Life!!" - Jack and his friend Teddy investigate the dastardly secret of the 'birds and bees' the adults have kept from them.  Unfortunately for Teddy, Jack uses him to test a hypothesis as they visit Puberty, Kansas.  
Jack makes another amazing scientific discovery
Cobweb is Indigo City's other science hero and equally shrouded in mystery.  Her lithe, beautiful figure glides gracefully through the night wearing only a wispy, transparent costume.  Aided by her lovely and highly-skilled assistant, Clarice, Cobweb takes on the chauvinistic criminal element and looks out for the better interests of the fairer sex whenever possible.
  • "Grooveweb - Ye Head Shoppe" - Cobweb and Clarice in the '70s!  They trip the light psychedelic through a tapestry of free love and cleverly disguised exploitation trying to find a place for liberated women in comics.  
  • "A Tribal Encounter" - Cobweb and Clarice wander into the jungle in their newspaper comic strip only to meet a group of lost New Jersey housewives who have gone 'native'.  A jungle prince raised by woodlice and manly adventurer appear to claim the dynamic damsels.  
  • "Farewell, My Lullabye" - Cobweb is a private detective who is hired for a job to find Little Bo Peep's lost sheep.  She questions Little Jack Horner, three blind mice, three bears, and Little Red Riding Hood to find clues.  Does Bo Peep's story check out or is she hiding something?
  • "Cobweb of the Future!" - Cobweb and Clarice give us readers a guided tour through the forty-millionth century where cities migrate on legs, people dress up in naked fat suits to go out on the town, and cleanliness is the highest form of eroticism.  
  • "Bedsheets & Brimstone!" - Cobweb and Clarice follow an obsessed art enthusiast who purchased a cursed painting.  They are all transported through the infernal object to a purgatory of physical pleasure and pain.  Can the two heroes escape back to the real world?
  • "Shades of Grey" - Cobweb infiltrates Greyshirt's lair and confronts the mystery man.  Will they fight it out or see eye to eye?
The First American and his young teen partner U.S. Angel are genetically-engineered bastions of truth, justice, and the American way.  It's not easy keeping the moral high ground when you represent a government full of liars and cheats.  It doesn't help having an underage partner wearing a skin-tight outfit either!
  • "The 20th Century: My Struggle" - FA tells his nephews about his role in the barbaric 20th century.  He basically invented everything and solved all the political problems of the world by himself.  Yep!
  • "Justice in Tights!" - FA and U.S. Angel get a camera crew and reality show.  Their lives are completely dysfunctional and they're shameless gloryhounds!  Can the two partners withstand the pressure of fame?  
  • "The Origin of the First American" - FA's origin is revealed!  Born in a trailer park and irradiated at a young age, Troy Todd becomes FA.  Joanie Juniper becomes U.S. Angel after FA sees her at a strip joint.  The rest is history!
  • "What We Probably Inhaled at the Toilet's Last Cleaning!" - FA becomes president of the United States and ruins the country in two hours.  It's a record-breaking romp of political misfortune.
  • "Being the First American" - U.S. Angel discovers a doorway into FA's head (like Being John Malkovich) and abuses her privilege by renting out time to his arch-enemies.  It all backfires when FA finds a secret door into her head too!
  • "The Death/Marriage/Son of the First American of the Future!" - U.S. Angel writes bad fiction on her days off and decides to create a story where she becomes the star (over FA's dead body of course).  When FA stumbles her partially finished story he writes in a new twist bringing himself back to life.  Now it's a war of two awful writers who both want the limelight at the cost of their partner's life!
Whose terrible writing will reign supreme!?
Splash Brannigan is sentient, four-dimensional ink created by mad comic book artist Mort Gort.  He was sealed away in an ink bottle for decades until Daisy Screensaver discovers him while toiling away at Kaput Comics.  Now he's making up for lost time as a clueless and horny superhero!
  • "A Bigger Splash!" - Splash and Daisy visit a fine art gallery right in the middle of a heist.  He jumps from painting to painting trying to nab the thieves.  It's a massacre of the old masters as Splash gives art nouveau a rinse cycle!
  • "Welcome to Coffee Con 2000" - Splash and Daisy attend a comic convention and all heck breaks loose.  Splash battles a darling of the modern comic age - Testostor the Terrible!  The owner of Kaput Comics squabbles over the rights for a crossover.  
  • "Splash of Two Worlds!" - Splash and Daisy visit an experimental science exhibition where Splash is exposed to a dangerously untested ray!  He splits into an ink-stained puddle and correction-fluid white avenger.  The two battle it out, but who will prevail and why do we care!?
  • "Splash City Rocker!" - Splash tries a career in music and then movies, but alienates Daisy in the process.
Pros: Moore scripts every story and was co-creator of all the characters, a good progression of stories following up the first volume, fun science fiction/crime noir/superhero satire stories, decent art, this round of stories gets a bit more mature than the previous volume

Cons: Very different art styles and characters are jarring to the reader, anthology format, some of the stories are hit-or-miss, not enough Jack B. Quick and too much First American

Mike Tells It Straight: Moore's anthology book from his America's Best Comics line concludes with this second volume.  The series garnered praise and won an Eisner award for best anthology series in 2000.  Moore teamed with prominent creators to produce stories in the same tone as the old pulp comics before superheroes dominated the comic book industry.  The stories felt a bit more mature in this volume than the first (particularly the First American where FA and U.S. Angel are depicted doing a lot of...naughty stuff).
Cobweb has been a very naughty girl!

I think each of the characters has a clever backstory/spin on old concepts and enjoyed at least one of their tales.  Jack B. Quick is a homage to old science fiction stories and I enjoyed both of his stories in this volume.  I wish there had been more tales featuring him.  Greyshirt is a homage to Will Eisner's The Spirit and I enjoyed almost all of his stories (the musical was a bit over-the-top).  Cobweb continued to be somewhat experimental with a newspaper strip format and guest artist Joyce Chin.  I really enjoyed the Greyshirt/Cobweb crossover in the last issue.  Her future story was hilarious!

The First American is a satire piece lampooning superheroes and popular culture in general.  I thought the stories got racier in this second volume with more sex, drugs, and dysfunction.  Probably my least favorite of all the characters, but still fairly entertaining.  Splash Brannigan is featured more prominently in this volume and grew on me as I read more of his stories.  I especially liked the one where he battles a whited out version of himself.

The series ended on a good note and featured some solid stories.  A few were duds, but most were entertaining and intended for a mature audience.  I would suggest this series for those who are sick of standard superhero fare and enjoy a good crime noir/science fiction/satire story.  I doubt we'll be seeing these characters in the future, but they pop up in the other anthology issues from ABC (like the mini-series ABC A-Z, Alan Moore's America's Best Comics, and a pair of specials which were never collected) and Greyshirt got his own spin-off mini-series (Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset) which I'm planning to review.  Stay tuned!

TO BUY and Recommendations:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Tomorrow Stories Book One Hardcover Review

Tomorrow Stories Vol. 1
DC Comics - America's Best Comics
160 pages
$24.95 (2002) Hardcover
$17.95 (2002) Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781563896606

Contributors: Alan Moore, Jim Baikie, Melinda Gebbie, Kevin Nowlan, Rick Veitch, Hilary Barta, David Baron, Bad@$$, Wildstorm FX, Todd Klein, and Alex Ross

Reprints: Tomorrow Stories #1-6 (of 12)

Synopsis: An anthology book featuring a group of exciting heroes including:

Greyshirt is the mysterious science-hero of Indigo City.  His origins are unknown as well as his secret identity.  Apparently bulletproof, Greyshirt uses a suit of chain mail under his clothes to give him an edge over the criminal element.
Get ready for the origin of Greyshirt!

  • "Amnesia" - A man awakens with blood on his hands and a dead woman at his feet.  The police are being aided by Greyshirt in finding a serial killer.  Is the man the killer?  He can't remember anything, but the evidence looks damning.  When Greyshirt closes in the man panics, but can he escape the relentless hero?
  • "How Things Work Out" - A man and his father get trapped working for a sleazy mobster for decades.  Both of their hopes and dreams are slowly ground to dust over the years until one of them hits a breaking point!
  • "The Making of Greyshirt" - Learn the startling origin of Indigo City's premier gentleman science hero!
  • "Tempus, Fugitive!" - Greyshirt chases Turner T. Tempus into the Indigo Science Institute's temporal research lab when he disappears.  The criminal is hurtled decades into the future, but will he survive in the futuristic Indigo City?  What happened to Greyshirt?  
  • "Dr. Crescendo!" - A reclusive physicist discovers a link between music and reality.  Will he use the knowledge to make society pay for ignoring him?  Greyshirt finds his daughter - is she the only hope of our fragile reality?
  • "Day Release" - A shrouded man is on a day release and attempts to save the only friend he's ever had.  He tips of Greyshirt, but will it be in time?

Jack B. Quick is the young genius of Queerwater Creek, a small farming town in the midwest United States. His young age belies an incredibly inquisitive intellect, almost to a point of mad indifference to the laws of nature.  His parents are often unwitting sports to Jack's wild experiments.  What wild invention will he dream up or crazy laws of physics will he break next?
  • "Smalltown Stardom" - Jac attempts to cure his father's cow Bessie's night terrors by creating a mini-solar system in his backyard.  The unfortunate side effect is a bevy of miniature planets and comets whizzing through town on an elliptical orbit of destruction!  What happens when he tiny star fast-forwards through it's life cycle?
  • "The Unbearableness of Being Light" - Jack discovers photons are really drunk and attempts to get them to reform.  What happens when light behaves badly?
  • "Pet Theory." - Jack's parents get him a pet cat, but he can't resist using it in experiments.  When he discovers anti-gravity by buttering the cat's back will he get into big trouble?  You betcha!
  • "A Brief Geography of Time." - Jack invents time shoes and runs backwards through time with every step!  Will he accidentally miss the Big Bang and end up in a timeless limbo?  Find out!
So that's how it works!

The Cobweb is Indigo City's other science hero shrouded in mystery.  Her beautiful figure glides gracefully through the night wearing only a wispy, transparent costume.  Aided by her lovely and highly-skilled assistant Clarice, Cobweb takes on the chauvinistic criminal element and looks out for better interests of exploited women.
  • "Doll-O-Vision" - Cobweb and Clarice investigate a startling rash of comatose young socialites in Indigo City.  Cobweb manages to confront the dastardly mind behind the ailing young women, but gets ensnared in his trap!  She wakes up as a plastic doll in a gilded cage.  Can she escape from this perverted dollhouse?
  • "Waltztime" - Cobweb and Clarice investigate an asteroid which is passing by Earth on its way to burning up in the sun.  Cobweb has visions of an ancient and beautiful lost civilization. 
  • "Eurydice: A Retrospective" - A battered woman who can't resist dating gangsters finally makes a move to escape the cycle of her life.  She steals a suitcase full of money and hides out in the underground waterways of Indigo City.  Will Cobweb get to her before her boyfriend's mobster goons do?
  • "Li'l Cobweb" - A young Cobweb and Clarice try to solve the mystery of the missing Officer Henderson.  What happens when he turns up in a housewife's bedroom?
  • "La Toile dans le Chateau des Larmes" - The first Cobweb story based on La Toile, Mistress of Villainy and her final adventure to the underworld.  
  • "Shackled in Silk!" - Cobweb and Clarice take on the Money Spider!  
Cobweb and Clarice embark on a caper
The First American and his young teen partner U.S. Angel are genetically-engineered bastions of truth, justice, and the American way.  It's not easy keeping the moral high ground when you represent a government full of liars and your partner is an underage girl wearing a skintight outfit!
  • "Dumbsday!" - F.A. and his partner hear about a terrible daytime talk show hosted by Jury Swinger.  It's a clear perversion of decent societal norms and they go to investigate.  Unfortunately they become the topic for the day and F.A. gets lampooned for having an underage sidekick.  What is Jury's diabolical secret and how will the American public react?  
  • "The Curse of the Reverse!" - F.A. and U.S.Angel battle Dozier D. Daze and his Nostalgitator which can reverse time.  The nefarious villain wants to bring us all back to a simpler time and hates the modern era.  Can the patriotic duo fight through the fads of various decades to stop him?
  • "The Peril of the Pediatric Perpetrators" - Criminals keep getting younger and F.A. goes undercover in a preschool to bring them to justice.  Can he make it as a toddler gangster?
  • "The Bitter Crumbs of Defeat!?!" - F.A. and U.S.Angel get put on trial by Mortal Ken for their shameless product endorsements over the years.  It's a mockery of truth and justice as F.A. pleads the Fifth!
  • "A Christmas Cop-Out" - F.A. fires U.S.Angel on Christmas eve and gets visited by the "Ghost of Comic Books Past".  They take him on a journey to show how lame comic books have been over the years.  
  • "Lo! There Shall Come a Closeness and Commitment!" - F.A. attempts to find love, but is too insanely dysfunctional.  His true love is U.S.Angel, but she wants nothing to do with him!  
The First American defends himself (unsuccessfully) in court
Splash Brannigan is a the Leak of the Week, Hot Blot, and Main Stain!  He battles crime as a living puddle of ink with a major weakness for a pretty face.
  • "The Return of the Remarkable Rivulet!" - Miss Screensaver gets a job as an illustrator at Kaput Comics, where the legendary hack Mort Gort used to work.  Five minutes on the job and she already has to crank out an entire comic issue by lunchtime!  In a panic she opens an old bottle of ink and out comes Splash Brannigan!  He's a perverted hero from the past who was sealed away.  Learn the fascinating (or completely boring) origin of the Pigment of the Imagination!
The debut of Splash Brannigan

Pros: Moore co-creates and scripts every story, some interesting characters based on older works, some fun science fiction and crime noir stories, goofy satire of the superhero genre, won an Eisner Award in 2000 for "Best Anthology Series"

Cons: Strikingly different art styles and characters are a bit jarring to the reader, anthology format, most of the stories are hit-or-miss

Mike Tells It Straight: Moore writes an anthology book featuring a smattering of heroes who pay homage to a range of different comic eras.  Jack B. Quick is a homage to the old science fiction pulp stories of the '50s and '60s.  Greyshirt is an obvious homage to Will Eisner's The Spirit.  Cobweb is a homage to the golden age Phantom Lady and William Marston's Wonder Woman.  Splash Brannigan apes the tone of old Plastic Man adventures.  The First American is a satire piece on comics and society.

The series garnered enough praise to earn an Eisner award and several of the short stories over the six issues presented in this collection were quite good.  I liked almost all of the Greyshirt stories, the buttered-cat Jack B. Quick story was hilarious, Cobweb contained subtle eroticism and reminded me of Moore and Gebbie's Lost Girls, and First American was fairly amusing in small doses.  Some of the Cobweb stories were a bit too experimental, F.A. was a overtly corny, and a few Jack B. Quick stories were lukewarm.

Overall a solid set of short stories by Moore in this anthology.  Some highs and lows for sure, but fairly entertaining.  A nice range of crime noir to science fiction to comedic satire.  I'm planning to check out the next (and final) volume as I wind my way through the ABC line this year.  Stay tuned!

TO BUY and Recommendations: