Tag Archives: Fantasy

Amazing Fantasy #2 Review

Amazing Fantasy #2
Reviewed by Andy Flood


Story: Kaare Andrews
Art: Kaare Andrews
Letters: Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
Released: Aug 25th 2021

Another luscious cover awaits with issue #2 of Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy, again reminiscent of the pulp fantasy art of bygone times. We’re treated to the spectacle of a beleaguered Spider Man locked in underwater combat with a grotesque giant snake while a captive maiden and treasure await. It’s a scene full of nostalgia, bringing to mind many of the great illustrations from the sword and sorcery genre.

This gorgeous cover painting does a great job of making the reader wonder why Spidey finds himself in such a situation and why he’s wielding a dagger and a whole host of other questions. Some are answered ably in the ‘story so far’ blurb on the title page within. Broadly, World War II Captain America, teenage Spidey and young Black Widow find themselves in a strange land after having seemingly died or otherwise departed their plane of existence.

Each then encounter fantastical, fearsome and, in some cases, ethereal beings and become involved with the people of this new land. ‘Tribes’ picks up from the last instalment with a nightmare for Spidey, a journey for Cap’ and pampering for Black Widow. Each goes on to have different adventures with their adoptive tribes, revealing more of the world as the story unfolds. And what a world it is, full of sweeping vistas, dense forests and grand throne rooms. Equally interesting are its denizens, split into at least three factions in conflict.

It’s apparent that Kaare Andrews has enjoyed creating this world and he’s crafted a story which makes the integration of our super heroes into this almost classic fantasy setting a lot of fun to experience. As we go along for the ride, we see dragon flights, elves, orcs and more. We encounter danger, romance, conflict and intrigue. We, as readers, have a really good time. The creator’s passion for this project shines through and includes us in the excitement.

Andrews plays with different ideas in both the art and writing, using light and shadow along with vibrant colours and distinctive line work to great effect. He teases us with hints of what is going on in the world and suggestions of why our protagonists might be there while always keeping things moving forward.

Even after the mysterious reveal at the end of this chapter, this near one man show isn’t quite done with us. We are treated to some back matter showing some of the creative process, including a cover concept sketch and several page layout to finished colours examples. These insights should be included more often, as they deepen the appreciation for just how much goes into making a comic like this. Lastly, we get a sneak preview of next issue’s cover, and it’s a thing of beauty; reason enough, in fact to look forward to #3!

If all that doesn’t tempt you, we get even more value for money with this series, as each issue comes with a bonus digital edition code inside, for use on tablets, phones and the like. Being able to pan, scan, pinch and zoom to your heart’s content offers another way to enjoy this great title.


Verdict

It’s hopefully pretty clear by now that I love this pulp fantasy and sci-fi infused title and, for me, the covers alone seal the deal. That said, these are a great choice for someone wanting something unpretentiously entertaining from their comics or an adventure story to share with their kids. It’s a short run, which makes it manageable, and it has a genuinely unique feel. Give Amazing Fantasy a try, if you can. I think you’ll stay for more than just the covers.


Review by Andy Flood, 03/09/21


Amazing Fantasy #1 Review

Amazing Fantasy #1

Reviewed by Andy Flood, 8/8/21

Story:  Kaare Andrews
Art:  Kaare Andrews
Letters:  Joe Sabino
Released: 28/7/21
Published by Marvel Comics


If you’re in a comic shop and don’t feel even the remotest pull of curiosity when faced with an image of Captain America riding a winged lion, then perhaps you are browsing the wrong shelves.  The first issue of Amazing Fantasy has such an image on its cover and it really is one you have to hold in your hands to appreciate.

Granted, old ‘Cap’ looks a little different here, with Thor-like hair and beard and Conan-esque garb.  But the shield is there, albeit peppered with arrows.  The whole composition of the cover, from the languid pose of the supple elf-maiden to the hyper muscled orc (?) and Cap bring to mind the classic sword and sorcery art of Frank Frazetta and maybe even a little Boris Vallejo.

The whole cover is gleefully anachronistic, and I love it.  From the title font down to the brief cover pitch, it instantly conjures up the feel of the pulps of old.  Indeed, the original run of Amazing Fantasy (originally titled Amazing Adult Fantasy) harkens back to the post-pulp early ‘60s, and while primarily being famous for featuring the first ever appearance of Spider Man, had previously featured some excellent, weird and wonderful stories from Stan Lee, illustrated by Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby!

It is perhaps fitting then, that this new book contains not only numerous nods to Marvel history but also stars Spider Man alongside Captain America.  Joining them is Black Widow, or perhaps more accurately here, ‘red-room’ era Natasha Romanoff.  Kaare Andrews has elected to use World War II era Cap and teenage Spidey in this awesome story.

Aside from the letters and editor credits, this title is very much a one man show, and Kaare Andrews makes sure it is a seriously impressive show, at that.  The opening scenes of ‘Arrival’ show us Captain America on what seems to be an ocean-bound escort mission during WWII.  Disaster soon strikes and the Cap is transported to a strange new world, lit by twin suns and populated by fearsome beasts.

We then change pace, tone and art style to join a young Black Widow in the depths of the Red Room programme.  Soon after experiencing some of her harsh reality, we shift over to join everyone’s favourite webslinger, mid-fight with the Green Goblin, just before he is similarly whisked away to find himself in hot water surrounded by odd, misshapen creatures.

This whole book is a love letter not only to Marvel but also the many early pulp fantasy and science fiction stories which informed a lot of later entertainment.  Kaare Andrews uses his shifts in art style to take us from one era or scene to another, with changes in line work and colours very effectively charting a course through the chaos until our three protagonists all arrive in this strange new world.

As the action unfolds and builds towards the climactic closing pages, we are left with a sense of wonder and discovery but also with questions as to the exact nature of our heroes’ experiences.  Is it real, a shared dream, or something more… permanent?


Verdict


‘Arrival’ is a superb opening issue for this 5 book run.  The standard cover is worth the price of admission alone (there are a few nice variant covers around, too).  As a comic creator, Kaare Andrews is openly flexing here, showing off his considerable talents to bring us a tale worthy of that awesome cover and a gathering of some of Marvel’s most popular characters.  This one is highly recommended.  I can’t wait for issue 2!


Review by Andy Flood, 8/8/21


Star Wars #15 Review


Review By Nathan Harrison

Written by: Charles Soule

Art: Ramon Rosanas
Released: 28/07/21Publisher: Marvel Comics

Though it may be named after one small set of characters, The Skywalker Saga and stories set within it will always be ensemble pieces. Charles Soule’s approach to his run has truly embraced this, bringing on board a wealth of new characters, reintroducing some old ones and occasionally taking some time away from whoever has been the focus of the last few issues to show what’s going on elsewhere in the galaxy. #15 is one of these issues, as we wipe transition from the main action of the War of the Bounty Hunters to see what Starlight Squadron, with Luke Skywalker in tow, have been up to. And while this issue may carry the overarching event’s name on its eye-popping cover, the story here is mostly separate from it and acts as a nice palette cleanser before hopping back into the action with the next issue of the central mini-series as we near the halfway point.

While it may be an almost standalone story, ‘Friends and Enemies’, as issue 15 is known, is densely packed – a huge dogfight makes up a good chunk of its duration, yet it’s still full of well thought out dialogue and character moments as Luke relives the destruction of the Death Star and finds that lightning doesn’t always strike twice. Ramon Rosanas brings a frenetic feel to the battle and his layouts make for tense, fast-paced reading, almost as nail-biting as the famous trench run itself. 

Starlight Squadron continue to be an engaging and fun element of Soule’s run, bringing Wedge Antilles right to the foreground, where he deserves to be. Considering how many strong, memorable, and iconic existing characters form the core of this title, Soule has done an incredible job of introducing a whole crop of new ones and making the reader genuinely care about them. 

His role as a writer on The High Republic also continues to have an influence – hope is a key theme of the original trilogy, so giving little nods to a period where the Jedi were at the height of their powers fits right in with this. Also, fans of Soule’s High Republic novel, Light of the Jedi, will get a kick out of the setting of this story. It’s satisfying to see some of the newest parts of the canon intertwining with what has been in place for over 40 years.



VERDICT

TIE fighters vs. X-wings, a desperate rebel last stand and an explosive finale make for possibly the most breathlessly exciting issue of this outstanding run so far. Soule provides some outstanding character moments and fun action, and Rosanas provides one of the most balletic and intense dogfights ever committed to the page, with many of his panels in glorious widescreen. While they and the rest of the team across the current Star Wars titles may be excelling at telling a broad, sweeping story right now, this slight detour proves that this comic is in just as rude health when almost the whole story is contained in just a handful of outstanding pages.


Review by Nathan Harrison, 30/07/2021