Popgun Volume 2


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Popgun Volume 2


  • Words: Various
  • Art: Various
  • Inks: Various
  • Colors: Various
  • Story Title: Various
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $29.99
  • Release Date: Jul 30, 2008

Like any good mixtape, Popgun Volume 2 has its ups and its downs. There are familiar favorites and new things you weren’t expecting. You see in the end, Joe Keatinge and Mark Andrew Smith are trying to woo the discerning comic reader and just as they did last time, they make you remember why you love the medium.

This time around, there is almost a theme as 90% of the 59 stories seem to deal with monsters in one way or another. Whether it be a unique story involving a famous monster as in the newly unemployed yeti of Justin Robinson’s "The New Job" or the humorous take on the classics like Erik Larsen’s "Bacon Mummy" or a complete turn around on the genre as when Dereck McCulloch and Ron Turner show a very human side to Richard Nixon in "Nixon’s the One". That theme runs in and out the book like the majority of a love song mix would feature sentimental favorites.

Every once in a while there is a shake up like Michel Fiffe’s very real portrayal of how an actual mixtape can be made and what it means in "Never Again Until the Next Time" or when Dan Goldman uses photos and memories to tell his dream of making comics in "42nd & Lex". It is like the unnerving inclusion of Pantera or the strange sounding "Take the A Train" in the same love song mix.

Really though, to extend the metaphor, editors Smith and Keatinge are doing the same thing. This is their graphic love letter to the medium through their favorite artists and surprising talents just emerging on the scene. There are already established hits like MacPherson and Bond’s Archibald. There are pieces that work like advertisements for upcoming projects like Glen Brunswick and Dan McCaid’s Jersey Gods. There are also threads that reappear from the last volume like Chris Moreno’s loveable Sanz Pantz that follows the adventures of a platypus ninja. Then there are the established pros like Frank Espinoza who works in a familiar vein in "The Belukha". There are also established artists who surprise with stunning new styles like the incredibly detailed work of Ryan Ottley in Chris Stevens’s "King and No King", who wows in a work that is so drastically different from the minimalism of Invincible.

In this way, the anthology works towards Keatinge and Smith’s overall goal which is to basically say that we live in a exciting time of comics, here are a bunch of things we think you will dig, check them out. That is the real purpose of a mixtape anyhow; to show someone that you care about, here the consumer who purchases the book, that there is a whole world of stuff they might dig outside of what they usually read. It is the perfect platform for new and old artists to try new things, to show their chops.

Some artists and writers do just that. They shine and become a reason to look for more material. There is the great artwork and inventiveness in "The Clockwork People". Artist Christian Nauck and colorist Sven Strangmeyer illustrate Yann Krehl’s story of future mob bosses thrown for a loop by urban myth with the most stunning artwork since Duncan Rouleau burst on the scene with his Metal Men late last year. It is the kind of artwork that stands out above the rest. The kind that gets the curious to find out what the artist has been working on in Germany all these years.

The great artwork is not reserved to just "The Clockwork People". "2 Copper Pieces", "Out of Focus" and "Red" are just a few of the pieces that show off the talents of many different artists with a wide variety of styles.

Jonathan David Hanh Vu Hill shows that it isn’t just about the art though. In "Sucky Sucky", he uses the mistaken impressions of a girl’s marks to tell a story of baby vampires. It is inventive and lives up the promise of the idea that I first saw in Brian K. Vaughan’s arc on Buffy the Vampire Slayer last year. What was used as a throw away there leads to a highly ironic story where we get to see the little monsters at work and how real people would react. It is frighteningly funny and equally disturbing. That is what a writer can do.

This story along with others like "Kid Revolver" leave the writer wanting more immediately, either from the characters presented here or just from the writer who does such a phenomenal job with such a short space to showcase his chops.

Yup, like any mixtape, Popgun teases and tantalizes, is familiar and new, a discovery and a reminder. Here’s hoping that we get to see whole shelves filled with such diverse and solid material for many more years (and volumes) to come.

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