All Star Pulp Comics Review

All-Star Pulp Comics #1Dave Brzeski posted the following review, which makes special mention of my contribution:

Right from the outset I realised this item had both good and bad features, as regards my taste in comics. On the good side, I’m a pulp fan. My favourite comic superheroes are those that are most similar in style to the classic pulp heroes. On the bad side, I tend to favour book-length features, preferably with longer story arcs covering several issues. I’m not generally big on anthology titles of short stories, which this is.

The book opens with a Green Lama strip by Adam Garcia and Mike Fyles. I’d previously read a couple of Green Lama prose stories by Garcia and enjoyed them, so I was hopeful. I noticed immediately that this story continued directly from Garcia’s Green Lama novel, ‘The Green Lama Unbound’, published by Airship 27, and that the artist was the same man who contributed the cover and several nice B&W illustrations to that volume. His comic strip style reminded me of movie storyboards, initially crude-looking, but I found myself liking it more and more as I read on. The story is, as I’d feared, somewhat lacking in substance, being a mere 6 pages, but it appears to be the first chapter of a longer work, so I will reserve my judgement for a few issues…

‘Jim Anthony’ by Erwin K. Roberts and Pedro Cruz is a complete story, but at 10 pages it has a little more room to breath. It serves as an introduction of sorts to the 3 books of Jim Anthony stories published by Airship 27 and the one soon to be published by Pro Se Productions. Jim Anthony is also one of many lesser known pulp heroes, who have had their original adventures reprinted in collected volumes by Altus Press. In many ways, Jim Anthony is a Doc savage clone, but with a little Native American mysticism thrown in. I liked Cruz’s artwork, which reminded me of John Byrne in places.

C. William Russette and Wayne Beeman’s ‘Black Bat’ tale was a little disappointing. The story was okay, but it was too short to have any real substance. Beeman’s artwork was just too crude for my tastes, although it did evoke an authentic 1940s feel. One gripe I have is that so many writers of period adventure do not seem to realise that the title, “Ms.” was not in common usage until the ’70s and is totally out of place in a tale set not long after WW2.

I wasn’t at all familiar with ‘The Blue Lady’, star of ‘Slave to No Man’, by Sean Taylor and James Ritchey III. She seems an interesting character, but this short is little more than an extended fight scene, so I don’t really know much more about her than I did before. The art is dynamic, if a little loose and something of an amalgam of Ditko, Kirby and their contemporaries in style. I was intrigued enough to want to see more.

I’m a fan of Barry Reese’s writing, but I have yet to read any of his prose work, featuring his character, ‘The Rook’, although I plan on rectifying that situation as soon as I can. This tale, which has the titular hero face off against a villain who wouldn’t be out of place in some of the weirder comics of the 1960s, and the Lovecraftian entity he’s trying to conjure up, is a fine introduction. The excellent artwork by Craig Wilson didn’t hurt either. I would definitely love to see more comic books featuring the work of these creators.

Bobby Nash is an award-winning ‘New Pulp’ author, and it shows. In his untitled ‘Secret Agent “X”’ story, he, and artist Jeremy McHugh, manage to convey to the reader everything you need to know about the character without resorting to exposition. This was a close second favourite for me.

Finally, we come to ‘All Fall Down’, by Percival Constantine, with art by Rick Baker and Jeff Austin. It’s a story from early in the career of ‘Domino Lady’, as she exacts revenge for the murder of her husband. It’s nice to see a Domino Lady who can really handle herself. In the original pulp stories, she often seemed to get by on good looks and blind luck.

Overall, the book was an entertaining read. The writing highlights were definitely Barry Reese and Bobby Nash’s contributions. It just so happened that these two stories also had the best artwork in the book. I’m still not especially enamoured of standalone 6-10 page comic strips, and would definitely like to see some of these characters in full-length books of their own, but I am looking forward to seeing what issue #2 has to offer.

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