Movie Stars and Gossip
Dave Elliott’s A1 continues to be one of the best comics Titan are publishing at the moment. For new readers, A1 is a monthly anthology of 3 on-going comics: The Weirding Willows, where literary characters wander around a strange fantasy landscape; Carpe DIEm, which follows a team of assassins named after the days of the week who fight bad guys with numerous video game references; and Odyssey, where superheroes meet fantasy lit starring a Captain America-esque figure called Glory.
A1 #4, unlike other issues in the series, works better in collected form than as a standalone comic. The Weirding Willows and Odyssey are both great stories but if you’ve not been following along, you’re unlikely to get much from this issue which sees events move along towards a resolution of sorts.
Willows unfortunately does something a lot of mainstream comics does by promoting a character on the cover and barely featuring them in the story – in this instance, a purple dinosaur (not Barney). The dinosaur is only in a few panels and isn’t even the driving force of this episode, playing more of an incidental role. Instead, it’s more about Badger and Mole and what’s revealed to be under Badger’s house. It’s still an enjoyable read with some fantastic art – and I love the gruff and tough Beatrix Potter characters – but readers expecting dino-shenanigans will be disappointed. It does however move the story forward to explaining why all of these animals are suddenly talking.
Anyone reading Odyssey will mention immediately how much Glory looks like Captain America but this issue shows that appearance (minus the shield) is the only thing Glory and Cap share – when it comes to nobility of spirit, Cap wins hands down while Glory is anything but. Set in the early ’00s, Glory is on a mission in Iraq to recover Saddam Hussein who’s holed up in a children’s hospital, only to discover the real target was Dracula who has the power to leech the lifeforce of people to live forever!
More revelations follow in this episode as the Major reveals himself to be someone unexpected and, when his life is threatened, Glory chooses to save his own skin rather than save others at the same time, leaving that up to ordinary soldiers instead – a decidedly un-heroic move. It actually makes Odyssey a more interesting book – if our hero turns out not to be as heroic as we thought, what other revelations are in store? As this story arc ends, a larger one begins, and, now we’ve been introduced to the main cast and the tone of the series, looks to be a really exciting one.
The third and final comic is Carpe DIEm which is still my favourite story in the anthology mainly for being funny, silly and chaotically imaginative. This is the one story that can be read as a standalone, although it is an extended riff on Sir Tuesday’s ongoing supposed cowardice and uselessness in the team. The group head to a crazy golf putting green at night to fight a villain – an evil stuffed tiger – who has made the various obstacles into deathtraps leading to his lair.
There isn’t much else to this episode – the various team members must overcome the nefarious traps like the pirate ship firing real cannonballs while the windmill can generate hurricane force winds – but it’s still good fun. WH Rauf’s script is quirky, energetic and cheerful while Rhoald Marcellius’ art continues to impress with his brilliantly conceived character designs and clever layouts while colourist Sakti Yuwono brings the strip to colourful, eye-catching life.
A1 #4 is another fine addition to the A1 series with all 3 titles continuing to be entertaining with plenty to recommend them all – but collected together in one comic? It’s quite a line-up! A1 is an excellent comics anthology featuring some of the best writing and art around today.
A1 #4 by Dave Elliott et al. is out tomorrow
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