Strange Tales II #1

Strange Tales II #1

A-

Last year when Marvel released the first Strange Tales miniseries — an anthology book in which indie comic creators tackled Marvel heroes and villains — I thought it was about the freshest thing the company had put out in years. You can imagine my delight, then, when I heard it was getting a sequel. One issue in, I feel like Strange Tales II does its predecessor proud.

True, the nature of a book like this means you’re going to get something of an uneven read — that much is guaranteed. But I think overall the hits outnumber the misses, and besides that, I believe the overriding concept of Strange Tales is so strong that it can weather a few less-than-spectacular entries. I find it very bold of Marvel to allow edgy modern cartoonists to play with their characters, especially since some of them completely wreak havoc on trademarked characters that Marvel has worked hard to build up, but this is an experiment that can — and does — produce tremendous results.

Every Strange Tales so far has run the gamut in tone, from stories that are hilarious to touching to downright bizarre. I find I enjoy these books most when it comes to humor, so for me the absolute standout entry in this issue is Kate Beaton‘s two-page Kraven the Hunter story “Distraction,” in which Kraven must find a date to the prom. I can’t really quote any of it for fear of giving away the best jokes, but truthfully, I spent more time laughing about it than I did reading it, which I believe to be a high compliment. For me, “Distraction” is worth the $4.99 price tag alone.

Meanwhile, in the “this could really happen in the Marvel Universe” department, Jeff Lemire turns in a terrific four-page story about Canadian hunters tracking the monster Wendigo called “A Civilized-Thing.” Lemire does an amazing job of balancing his own style with the Marvel world, and I’d happily read a book about his hunting team (providing he drew it, of course). I’m convinced that Lemire is one of the hottest rising stars of the comics industry; although his slightly off-kilter drawing style may keep him off artwork duties for any major book from the big two, I believe he’ll continue making must-read work in the indie world for decades to come.

Strange Tales II #1 has some other winners, as well. Within these pages we get a kind of funny and touching tale about the Fabulous Frog-Man (the greatest hero you’ve never heard of!), a twisted look at Wolverine from Jhonen Vasquez, and two really interesting Galactus stories — one quite emotional, one hilarious, both drawn exquisitely. The other stories in this issue are, in my opinion, not so great, but no matter — I didn’t feel let down in any sense after finishing this book, and in fact I’m probably going to pick it up and read it again after I publish this review. Thank you, Marvel, for allowing a book like Strange Tales to exist, and please keep it coming!

tags: Jeff Lemire, Jhonen Vasquez, Kate Beaton, Strange Tales

  • Mike M

    I really enjoyed it also.The Frog-man story was great.I also enjoyed the Kraven story and the Red Skull.I love the wackiness of this book.It looks I shall be getting the hardcover of this one too.

  • http://nerdynothings.com Rebel Rikki

    Mike–totally! The hardcover collections of these things are great, and if it’s anything like last time, they’ll have a couple new stories in them.

    Seriously, that Kraven story had me laughing for like two minutes. “YOU MAY NOT LEAVE UNTIL THE EVENING HAS BEEN MAGICAL!”

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