Posted tagged ‘Mike Allred’

Review: Madman Atomic Comics Vol.2

March 29, 2009

Mike Allred continues his artistic evolution in the second volume of Madman Atomic Comics.  There’s not another artist in comics willing to push himself in the way that Allred does in this series.  In the first volume he began using a new pencil shading technique, took his writing in a metaphisical direction, and spent an entire issue highlighting his influences.

I’m ecstatic to see that Allred was not content to rest with that.  This time around he’s begun to play with cel shading.  And in one of his biggest experiements he attempts a comic with a single panel (the pages can be lined up end to end to form a single image).  The story’s pretty good too, mainly focusing on my one grievance from the last volume, which is handled in a truly unique and unexpected way.


Review: The Immortal Iron Fist Vol.3

October 25, 2008

The book marks the end of one of the best collaborations in the history of Marvel comics.  Together Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja have managed to take a b-list 70’s character and elevate him to greatness.

Volume 3, collects a series of stand alone tales under the title, the Book of the Iron Fist.  These stories are focused on the history of the Immortal Iron Fist, so named because the title is transfered to a new inheritor upon each Iron Fist’s death.  The first story tells the history of Wu Ao-Shi, the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay, who was the only woman to have been the Iron Fist.  Next up is Bei Bang-Wen, who used his skills to defend China from the British in 1860.

But the real highlight of this book is Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death, which is worth the cover price alone.  Orson Randall, the previous Iron Fist to Danny Rand, has appeared throughout the series as the last of the pulp adventurers, which gives the creative team tons to play with.  The issue contains four chapters from throughout Orson’s career, with the presence of the John Aman (a recently revived character that can be traced back to 1939) as the connecting thread.  But really the book is just a chance to tell a bunch of stories the likes of which are rarely seen nowadays.  Nick Dragotta & Mike Allread illustrate the first portion dealing with a stage magician, followed by legendary artist Russ Heath for a western tale, then it’s Lewis LaRosa for a brief battle with Frankenstein, and finally Mitch Breitweiser for the redemption of the Prince of Orphans.  This issue was my favorite story to be published last year and it’s an enormous shame that Matt Fraction will not be writing another like it anytime soon.

Which brings me to the final story here, which wraps up the Brubaker/Fraction/Aja run on the series and serves to hand it off to the next creative team.  It’s a great touch that Marvel decided to collect the series in such a way that the stories about the character’s history are bookended by one dealing with his future.  It’s a nice story, but a very odd note for the creative team to end on.  One which only makes sense when you read the follow-up by Duane Swierczynski and Travel Foreman, which thankfully has maintained both the high standard for this series so far and its pulp leanings.

Review: Madman Atomic Comics Vol.1

August 14, 2008

Mike Allred is one of the greats of modern comics, being the best pop artist the medium has ever produced (with the possible exception of Steranko).  And now, after taking a number of years off to work on other projects he has finally returned to his greatest creation, Madman.

Now Madman had always been a great comic, fun, clever, and full of brilliant art (and 70’s rock references), but in the time off it is clear that Allred has grown enormously as an artist.  He’s picked up a new pencilling technique (influenced by a new friendship with Eric Powell) and has begun to experiment far more in each issue.  Most notable in this collection is the third issue in which Madman goes off on a metaphysical journey to redefine himself, passing through a series of images in which Allred exorcises all of his artistic influences.  Every panel of the issue is modeled on a different artist, and Allred nails each and every tribute (these range from illustrators like Maurice Sendak to animators like Chuck Jones to comics luminaries like George Herriman and Gil Kane).

Allred has also picked up some changes to his writing after working with Peter Milligan on the X-Statix, a book that was unafrad to completely upset the story in every issue.  Madman is now a book in which anything can happen at any time.  This approach isn’t entirely without its faults.  In a seeming effort to prove how far he’s willing to go Allred has opted to kill off two of the more important characters almost randomly, and their death scenes ring a bit hollow.  But overall Allred’s gambles have paid off and Madman has become a comic truly worth watching.