Tales of the Unexpected #1


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Tales of the Unexpected #1


  • Words: David Lapham & Brian Azzarello
  • Art: Eric Battle & Cliff Chiang
  • Inks: Prentiss Rollins & Cliff Chiang
  • Colors: Guy Major & Patricia Mulvihill
  • Story Title: The Cold Hand of Vengeance
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Oct 11, 2006

A brand new anthology series debuts to allow a malevolent spirit of vengeance and a crusading paranormal detective a chance to shine.

It’s nice to see the good folks at DC attempt another stab at resurrecting old stalwart characters such as the Spectre and Dr. Thirteen. In fact, the reemergence of both characters is being showcased in a new anthology series appropriately entitled Tales of the Unexpected. It’s a nifty idea to usher in these characters in this manner, and I find genre stories like these are hardly ever produced more regularly nowadays.

This one starts off with the Spectre in the lead story that sees Crispus Allen continue his quest as the newly appointed spirit of vengeance. He appears at a murder scene and is disgusted with the way the detectives assigned to the case handle things, so he decides to let the Spectre probe deeper. Then in the second tale, Dr. Thirteen along with his daughter Traci are called to France by an old friend to investigate some unexplained phenomena. The good doctor is convinced there is a logical explanation to the strange events occurring in the French Alps, but ultimately gets more than he bargained for in the process.

Now that’s just a small sample of what you’ll find awaiting you within the pages of Tales of the Unexpected. The lead story written by Dave Lapham was handled rather pedestrian I thought in terms of the plotting. I was actually hoping for more intensity, since this is a character noted for viciousness when exacting vengeance on the wicked. I’m not saying it was written poorly, but Dave is known to enjoy telling grittier crime dramas and I thought this was lacking the gut-punch it needed to sustain my interests for a return read. On the other hand though, I thought Brian Azzarello handled his script involving the hardly used Dr. Thirteen in a more interesting manner. I liked the way he introduced him with a first person voice over narrative to really give you the needed insight into the character’s state of mind. The best part was of course the cliffhanger ending, and since this book is supposed to be about unexpected tales the ending here was entirely appropriate.

If anything else, the art chores for both stories were handled by talented artists Eric Battle and Cliff Chiang. I found Eric’s work to be solid from beginning to end and his style certainly made the story appear grittier than it really was. Eric’s penciling style on the Spectre is confident looking on every page and I think I can draw sleight comparisons to artist Justiniano. Now on the flipside, artist Cliff Chiang works from a totally different perspective since his style is rendered in the simplest of terms. Again, I liked the way he handled the scenario involving Dr. Thirteen, and his drawing skills reflect a very fluid look for all the characters involved.

So now that all my bases have been covered here, this anthology as a whole appears to be a little uneven for my tastes. I think the weak point for me seems to revolve around the Spectre and I was let down by the lack of grit needed to propel the story. But to balance things out, the second segment involving Dr. Thirteen worked best in the format provided, and it certainly left me feeling like I was able to salvage something from this read. I don’t know if I want to invest another 4 bucks to read the remainder of the Dr. Thirteen segment, and that’s a shame because it started off on a right note. Maybe the problem with this kind of project is that it needed a strong angle to make it work, but so far the Spectre isn’t living up to the task to do just that.

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