Overview

The Next Issue Project #1

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The Next Issue Project #1

Credits

  • Words: Erik Larsen, Joe Casey, et al.
  • Art: Erik Larsen, Bill Sienkiewicz, et al.
  • Inks: Erik Larsen, Bill Sienkiewicz, et al.
  • Colors: Erik Larsen, Andy Kuhn, et al.
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $5.99
  • Release Date: Feb 13, 2008

An all-star list of top writers and artists tackle ten tales starring long-forgotten Golden Age characters.

In the heady Golden Age of comic books publishing companies rose and set with the sun and dozens upon dozens of characters were created in an attempt to capture the interest of readers and the market. Many of those characters faded into obscurity when the companies that owned them folded and, with the copyrights no longer current, they have fallen into the public domain. Now the wily folks at Image Comics have rounded up a list of some of the well-respected names in comics and turned them loose on the Golden Age to re-interpret, re-envision, and tribute it as they see fit. The result is a mixed bag but heady, imaginative stuff.

The ten stories contained within the Golden Age sized cover of "Fantastic Comics #24" run the gamut from a prose piece to space opera, but all with a modern twist. For example, in the first story "Samson", writer and artist Erik Larsen gets a chance to poke a little fun at the superhero sidekick convention. How many times have fans commented that Batman would have been indicted for child endangerment for having Robin as a sidekick? Well, Larsen actually plays around with that idea with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Moving in an entirely opposite direction, however, Joe Casey spins a wild sci-fi story with religious overtones in "Flip Wilson in the Fourth Dimension". Also doing a space-opera style story, Tom Scioli handles "Space Smith" – a story that incorporates some elements of style that Godland fans may recognize. All in all, the stories are witty, satirical, sarcastic, and sincere by turns. A few, such as the "Sub Saunders" piece are a bit bewildering but that in no way detracts from the enjoyment. There is a sense of kids in a candy store here as writers and artists take the opportunity to step outside some of their usual styles.

Speaking of the artists… some fans may find themselves more than pleasantly surprised as familiar artists play around with their own styles. Several here, such as Mike Allred, actively attempt to make their art resemble that of the artists of the Golden Age. Even where they do not step far outside their usual style it is still always welcome to see work from greats like Bill Sienkiewicz.

The Next Issue Project is an anthology with a twist and just enough gimmicks to keep it going as well. Some may balk at the $5.99 price tag but it is important to note just how immersive an experience readers get for that price. This comic runs to 64 pages, has ten stories, and even includes ads such as readers would have seen in Golden Age comics. It is printed on a nice, heavy paper that is better than newsprint but lends itself well to the coloring and printing styles of old newsprint. In short, Image has gone out of its way to create something that looks and feels like a bit of the past while still giving readers the modern quality they have become accustomed to. Even better, since each issue is self-contained and readers do not need to know anything about these old characters in order to enjoy the stories, each issue of The Next Issue Project can be enjoyed on its own. As an experiment in bridging the present and the past with freedom and creativity Image has found a ringing success.

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