Various writers and artists
Publisher: SuperHeroStore Multimedia
(4 Lothian Crescent, Paisley, Scotland PA2 8AQ)
I'd read the first issue of the first volume of Starscape a year or so ago, and while it had potential, its production values left a lot to be desired. I'm very pleased to see that this second volume shows improvement across the board. Production is still a bit iffy, with lots of wasted space and uninspired design, but the content cannot be faulted. All of the work is of a high standard, and it's very hard to pick out any particular favourite. Zombie western Dead starts the package off, and provides a stunning cover image. The art in the story is similarly impressive, and the writing is strong, with some tantalising mysteries and interesting characters. DC Thomson superhero spoof "The Guard Dogs" is a fun romp that succeeds as a parody, although I wonder how much potential for follow-ups it really has. Nonetheless, it's great fun for anyone who's familiar with the source material it mocks. Grant Springford, of Pest Control fame, produces more weirdness with "Clock Works," which seems to be heading off into time travelling superhero territory, although it's rather too early to know what's going on yet. Even at this early stage however, it's clear that the inventiveness and impressive art style Springford employs in his own book are in evidence here too. The back cover brings a one page Quisling strip, which while very well drawn and rather intriguing, is too short to engage me. I'm very interested in seeing more of this, which I suppose in itself is a recommendation.
All of these are strong strips, but the biggest surprise for me is the Mick Anglo Superman analogue "Wonderman." It's fascinating from a technical perspective to see how comic storytelling has changed over the years, but I got most enjoyment from the wonderful characters. I'm not at all familiar with Superman's early days, but I doubt that Clark Kent was ever as hilariously inept and useless as Wonderman's alter-ego. I had to check to make sure that this story wasn't a parody too, as his ambivalent attitude to his love interest leads to some tremendously funny situations. Great stuff.
The first volume of Starscape was a strong anthology, but this issue suggests that volume two will be streets ahead of even that. I don't remember the last time I read an issue of a "professional" anthology that was as consistently good as this book.
(This issue also comes with a free gift, upholding an age-old British comics tradition: a VCD, playable on most computers and DVD players, containing a classic Superman cartoon and Romero's original Night Of The Living Dead.)
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