Friday, June 8, 2012

A Book Worthy Of Your Almighty Dollar

My pals Sam Johnson and Mike Gagnon have come out with a really fascinating new comic called The Almighties, and Sam was kind enough to get a copy into my hands (which is brave of him, as he has no idea where these hands have been).

I'm going to pay this comic a compliment that I rarely ever use: I have no idea where it's going. Now, with far too many of today's funnybooks, that's a definite negative. But in this context, I point it out as one of the book's greatest strengths. Unlike a lot of comics, I can't say "well, this is obviously trying to capitalize on the readership of Vertigo titles," or "it's obvious that they're going for a Teen Titans vibe here." The Almighties is very much its own thing, and as someone who takes great pride in trying to make my comics unique, I can appreciate that quality more than most.

Ostensibly, this is a superteam comic, but its line-up is a quirky hodge-podge of interesting characters, including the power-armored Maxi-Tron (who finds himself in need of a testicular exam), Ms. F (sort of a Carol Danvers type, but also nothing like her), Nite Fang (a werewolf), Mason (a mercenary), and Stefanos, who apparently runs a kabob shop between having meetings at the White House and fighting crime with a big skewer of meat (and not the way that Ron Jeremy does).

Now in and of itself, a peculiar line-up of characters doesn't make a superteam book unique, as we've seen similar things in 1980s indy comics like Southern Knights, Justice Machine, etc., and in some ways this book is reminiscent of such great titles (though the Almighties team is odder than most). But the real difference is in the WAY the comic is written, and that's where my job here becomes difficult, as how do you describe an unknown quality without using a "yardstick" of familiarity with which to compare it? If I had to describe the way this story is told, it would be sort of like if you took a more light-hearted superteam comic (say, the Great Lakes Avengers of the Legion of Substitute Heroes), but then you doused it liberally with the sheer oddness of Bob Burden's work (Flaming Carrot, Mystery Men, etc.). There's a certain controlled lunacy to the comic that could be misconstrued as just wackiness, but there's actually a lot more to it than that. In the salad days of the Comics Journal, I think they might've called this comic "dadaistic," which might be as appropriate, and as incomplete, as any other classification.

However you chose to label it, though, I really enjoyed it. There are laughs (my favorite probably being the L'il Jonze character's preoccupation with sex and dips), cool character interaction, and a very fast pace. I would be remiss if I didn't also mention the artwork by Eleonora Kortsarz, Pablo Zambrano, and D.C. White, which is equally hard to describe (again, it would be like if you took the cool indie team books of thirty years ago, but then added an almost underground points it almost looks like the Elementals if Bill Willingham had collaborated with Reid Fleming's David Boswell!), some great coloring by Gulliver Vianei, Jennifer Scott, and the aforementioned Mike Gagnon (oooh, Mr. Multi-tasking!), and first-rate lettering by Kris Johnson.

Again, I'll praise the book in a strange way: it's not for everybody. And thank goodness for that, as I really don't want to read a comic that's for everyone. But I do want to read one that's intended for sharp readers with an appreciation of creators doing something outside the box, and that's what we've got here.

Check it out. The Almighties #1 is published by Actuality Press, Rated Teen+, and is available at and in $3.99 regular and Variant editions. And the $1.99 Digital Edition is available now at and

It's cool to have another comic out there that I actually want to read. I may not give up on this funnybook thing yet...

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