Friday, April 11, 2008

Mutant Bounty Hunter edition with Strontium Dog and Durham Red

Here's how this works: I finish reading something, and I tell you about it, and I try not to bore you to death.

Absolutely triumphant. There's a reason this is one of the Eagle Award nominees for best reprint volume of '07: it's absolutely the work of three creators at the top of their game, telling brilliant stories with a mix of lighthearted wit and downright mean energy. Wulf Sternhammer's death really was a shock at the time; what's even more shocking in retrospect is the impact it has on Johnny Alpha, who becomes a taciturn, vengeance-driven monster for many episodes thereafter. The revenge he takes out on Max Bubba is the sort of thing that superhero funnybooks just wish they could get away with. Highly recommended!

This is the last of a three-volume series telling the story of what happened to the sexy vampire bounty hunter Durham Red several centuries after she was last seen as a supporting character in Strontium Dog. It never really sparks, suggesting it would have worked better as two books rather than three, although Mark Harrison's art is never less than interesting.

What really makes this collection shine is the inclusion of the seven episodes of "The Scarlet Apocrypha," in which Dan Abnett reimagines the character in seven very different scenarios, with seven very different artists, throughout history and fiction. Only one doesn't work - Steve Kyte's Japanese animation parody is just stupid - but some of these are downright excellent. John Burns really shines depicting Red in the setting of a 70s Italian horror film, and Enric Romero has fun putting her up against Count Dracula. Steve Yeowell, Frazer Irving and Carlos Ezquerra also contribute great installments before Harrison returns with a fascinating, dense and fun story drawn in a completely different style from his standard - an imitation of Mad's Mort Drucker! - and set at a science fiction convention in a world where Durham Red movies have been sci-fi staples for decades. It's very fun stuff, and, packed as it is with background notes and production artwork, it's a package I have to recommend, even though the lead story left me a bit cold.

(Originally posted April 11, 2008 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

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