Tuesday, January 28, 2014


A1 AnnualA hardcover collection of short, strong, and sharp factoids and fiction focusing on coffee and the comic book medium. Some of the world’s greatest and imaginative comic artists/storytellers appear in this anthology that gives true meaning to A1 moniker of the coffee table book.

Opening with ISLAND IN THE SKY, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s glimpse at space exploration shows the early development of the formative alien superhero and sci-fi centric storytelling within the comic medium. It’s one of the best stories in this collection and leaves the reader craving more.

TALES OF OLD FENNARIO by Sandy Plunkett is another of the standouts. This tale of a Victorian era criminally inclined town shines a spotlight on police corruption and a gritty local government. Plunkett’s writing it top shelf, as is evident by the following passage:

Fennario is a warren of back alleys and narrow streets; a byzantine maze not built by so much as grown from the blood and fevered sweat of each succeeding wave of immigrants. It’s a labyrinth as dark and as cryptic as the minds of the people who constructed it.

WIERD’S FINEST, a satire taking aim at Batman and Superman tells a condensed heart-to-heart tale between Zuberman and Batguy as Zuberman battles with his image while Batguy complains of his perceived public demeanour – largely due to the colours of his costume. Author illustrator Bambos Georgiou captures the essence of send up humour without going over the top. One of my favourites.

Others that stand out from A1 volume 1 include the violent blood thirsty world of the MELTING POT by Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley (the dark splatter feel art really worked for me in this one), EMILY ALMOST by Bill Sienkiewicz (poetic, depressing, beautiful), and FROG – a complex yet simplistic idea that moves the reader in a way few pieces of fiction do; it’s a still frame pictorial that can be read anyway conceivable and still deliver an interesting, thought provoking read. The follow-up essay was icing on the cake.  

However, it was MR MONSTER by Alan Moore and Michael T Gilbert that was the most fun to read. Mr Monster is a protagonist that screams pulply D-grade horror. His cheesy dialogue is great and fits the character perfectly. The art was complementary giving Mr. Monster the look and feel of a superhero with the chiselled angels of a dime store pulp. I’ve got to track down more of this character.

Interspersed amongst superheroes, space travel, death, murder, and crime are interesting facts of that alluring and addictive coffee bean to break things up and remind the reader to fill their cup before continuing with the stories in the collection (it worked for me).

Overall A1 THE WORLD’S GREATEST COMICS Volume 1 was a great way to read some diverse fiction presented in comic form by some of the best that ever did it. Fingers crossed for a volume 2.  

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