DC Comics - America's Best Comics
$24.95 (2002) Hardcover
$17.95 (2002) Trade Paperback
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|
- "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|
- "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: