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Comic Review: The Escapists
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The Escapists (Hardcover)
Based on The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Steve Rolston, Phillip Bond, Jason Shawn Alexander, Eduardo Barreto
Dark Horse Comics
Cover price: $19.95; Available now

As an addendum to my year-end review, I have to add one book that I missed until recently when I finally got the hardcover of this series. In a word, this is one of the greatest anythings (comics, movies, TV, books) released last year. This is a love letter to friendship, creativity, fathers, Cleveland, comics (both old and new), and plain old romance. Brian K Vaughan has produced a story that tugs at the heart while making the reader giddy with excitement. I will say this up front, if you haven’t bought this series, do so now. It’s the kind of work that needs more exposure and it greatly deserves your attention.

After the death of his father, Max Roth discovers his dad’s great passion for the comics and memorabilia of The Escapist, a classic golden age hero (for more info on The Escapist and its creators, read Michael Chabon’s excellent novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay which is damn fine in its own right.) Finding this out, Max dives into the stack of comics and begins his own love affair with the character, going so far as to buy the rights after his mother passes away. Max teams up with his best friend Denny, who wants to be a letterer, and finds an artist is the attractive Case Weaver and they set about to create their own “Escapist” comic. They end up making a big splash with it, which brings their book to the attention of a large publisher who used to have the rights.

If you long for the days of character-driven indie books that have some depth, look no further. Vaughan has created a cast of characters that you’ll cheer for from the first page. The story moves at a good clip but never feels rushed, and while the tone changes from light and funny to darker and more serious from time to time, the shifts always feel right. The joy that Vaughan has for the medium of comics comes straight through his characters and you can’t help but join in their enthusiasm. Speaking of characters, the city of Cleveland becomes a character itself, with the setting quietly affecting everything that goes on. It almost feels like an issue of Brian Wood’s Local, and the familiarity that Vaughan has with the area adds another layer to an already complete package.

The main art from Steve Rolston and Phillip Bond is simple and elegant, but captures the mood and the emotion perfectly. Again, they do a great job of bringing the setting to life and placing the story in the real world. The pages from the comic that the characters are creating are drawn by Jason Shawn Alexander whose style evokes early Jae Lee, which works well as the style is very different from the rest of the art. Vaughan does a good job of using both styles to play off each other, particularly in a scene that shows the growing relationship between Max and Case. The art manages to do one of my favorite things, which is to be great by itself, but also manage to not bring attention to itself and away from the story.

Yes, I know, I’m gushing about this book but honestly, I was blown away by how good it is. You won’t find a better example of what comics are capable of. Also, you won’t find another comic that makes you want to get off your bottom and produce work of your own. Finally, you won’t find another comic that makes you fall back in love with this crazy medium. Find it, read it, love it.

2 Comments »

  1. THis sounds very good.

    Comment by Jerry — February 26, 2008 @ 7:28 pm

  2. […] Comic Review: The Escapists […]

    Pingback by runhost.net — February 27, 2008 @ 7:12 pm

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