This is an anthology, consisting of 9 stories, all of which are written by Eric San Juan, but each one is drawn by a different artist. The book opens with an interesting forward written by the one and only Erik Larsen (comic-book creator, and current Image Comics President), who, despite admitting that he hadn’t read any of the stories yet, praises San Juan and his collaborators for taking the initiative in creating something new, which is what all of the great comic-book legends, like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did. It’s a rather inspiring message that he gives.
And then we get to the stories.
TIME UNRAVELED illustrated by Rick Lundeen
This is an 8-page story, listed as “Chapter 1 of 15” so we’re immediately aware that it’s meant to be part of a much longer tale. And that’s probably the main problem I have with it, as it does feel incomplete, which makes the story seem out of place in an anthology such as this. It’s a time travel story, which is one of my favorite sci-fi themes, but I’m unable to get a clear idea of exactly what is going on. Lundeen’s artwork is great, though.
THE END OF ALL SUMMERS illustrated by James Pipik
This 16-page story is a slice of life tale, set in a small town, with a bunch of pre-teenage boys, best friends, enjoying a last summer day, before one of them moves away forever. A nice tale, that brought back memories of my own childhood, when everything seems much simpler, and the future was wide open. Nice artwork by Pipik.
SEEKER: THE GHOST OF ASTEROID 351B illustrated by James Hanson
An 8-page sci-fi story, set in outer space, as a futuristic super man is sent to rescue some workers that are trapped in a deep space asteroid base. A fun, exciting story, with great artwork by Hanson.
THE HOMECOMING OF CARLOS RUIZ illustrated by John Benson
A 10-page story, set in a small town diner, where a young worker, turns out to be more than he appears. I can’t say more without spoiling it (let’s just say that this is also a “sci-fi” story), but I really liked this, although I was not very impressed with Benson’s artwork, which seemed almost half-finished to me.
COUPLE: A RELATIONSHIP STORY illustrated by Matt Linton
This is a hilarious 4-page story, about a couple that is out on a date, when the man says the wrong thing, and the woman won’t let him forget it. Hey, guys, haven’t we all been there? It’s short, and to the point, and Linton draws it in a somewhat cartoon-ish style that fits perfectly to the story. I’d say that this is, overall, my favorite story in the book.
WHENCE COMES…LIBERTY! illustrated by Marcus Kelligrew
We get a classic superhero origin, in this 8-page story. Set during World War II, an American G.I. is shot down behind enemy lines, and while seeking shelter, he comes across a fallen meteor, who’s radiation gives him powers & abilities far beyond mortal men. And then he immediately finds himself forced to use those powers against a squad of nazi soldiers who are after the meteor. I can’t say that this is the most “original” superhero I’ve ever seen, but it’s fun. Artwork by Kelligrew (who is also listed as co-creator of this character) is very nice. I’d be interested in reading the further adventures of this hero, by this same creative team.
SHACKLES illustrated by Stanley Lieber
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this 12-page story. It is primarily a “talking heads” story, set in London, during the days just before the American Revolution, as a British Governor and a Constable have a long conversation regarding the concept of “freedom,” as it relates to mankind. There are some deep thoughts here, I suppose. Lieber’s minimalist artwork fits the story, since it doesn’t call for much action, or a lot of details.
PRECENCT 42: THE BUGS ARE ALL RIGHT illustrated by Clayton Cooke
This is a 10-page story, and I am going to have to admit that I did not finish it. I tried to read it, but Clayton Cooke’s artwork just does not appeal to me @ all. Looking @ the pictures, it was difficult for me to make out what was supposed to be happening in each panel. The images are too muddled, and even the lettering was a mess. I wanted to force my way through it anyway, just so that I could give an opinion on the actual story, but gave up, and never got around to it. Comics are a visual medium, and if the visual doesn’t grab me, then that’s it. PASS.
THE LAST SHOT illustrated by Rick Hannah
The anthology ends on a rather maudlin note, with an extremely depressing 8-page story, set during the days of the Wild West, about a man who’s home has been invaded by bandits, who have killed his two young daughters, shot off the fingers on his left hand, and are preparing to rape his wife before, presumably, killing the both. The man wants his revenge, and he gets it, while paying a staggeringly high price for it. Rick Hannah’s artwork is wonderful, it looks like it was drawn directly with a #2 pencil on paper, and fits the mood of the story perfectly.
So, in conclusion: Not every story was a winner, but the thing about anthologies is that you don’t need to enjoy every single story, a good anthology has something for everyone, you just need to enjoy enough that you feel that you got your money’s worth. And, on that level, this book succeeded for me. Eric San Juan filled this book with stories that crossed genre’s, and picked artists who styles were often specially suited for the stories that they worked on. If the proposed Vol. 2 gets completed, I will be sure to pick up a copy of that one, as well.
Pitched Vol. 1 can be ordered for $9.99, plus shipping and handling, on LULU: