Scott Morseís Strange Science Fantasy is both strange and fantastic. Also, there is some science in it, which was completely unexpected. The series collects and expands stories previously posted in Morseís personal blog and he describes them as ďretro-crazy pure comics storytelling.Ē It occurs to me that every part of that sentence could be used as an accurate one-word definition of this series.
Is it retro? Yes. In a good way. As the title of the comic suggests, Morse is trying to recapture the weirdness of those pre-Fantastic Four monster strips where so many great artists came to define their styles. So whatís new about it? Well, the thing I like about neo-Kirby and neo-Ditko artists (Morse is both) is that they are a hundred times more dynamic than Kirby or Ditko ever got to be. I mean, those guys had to work within the limitations of the medium at that time, while Morse is free to tell a story in panoramic shots and gutter texts if he wants to. Kirby would be proud, Iím sure, and so would Ditko if he ever left the house.
Is it crazy? Hell, yes. The plot of this issue is so outlandish that it canít even be summarized, but Iíll do it anyway. When bizarre sea creatures attack feudal Japan, the ancient mystics turn to science and send their brave Shogunaut to outer space in search of a solution. The Cosmic Mind speaks to the Shogunaut, revealing his holy mission--to save his people, he must defeat a savage, vaguely human-like monster known as the Knucklehead. What follows is even more outrageous and unexpected.
Is it pure? Youíll be hard pressed to find a purer form of artistic expression on the shelves this month. Wow, that sounds like an exaggeration, but itís true. Reading the 30-something pages that make up this comic, itís really easy to see that it all began as a ďjust for funĒ project Morse innocently posted on his blog (though you wonít find it there now, Ďcause a manís gotta eat). Thereís a level of energy and enthusiasm here that you wonít see anywhere near the latest issue of Teen Titans.
Is it comics? Well, duh.
And finally, is it good storytelling? Does the Pope shit in the woods? The answer is yes--the Pope is constantly shitting in the woods. And this is greatstorytelling. Iíve mentioned that itís all told in panoramic shots and no balloons (except for a couple of completely justified splash pages), but the panel compositions are so full and dynamic that youíll forget youíre looking at the same layouts within two pages. And speaking of the Pope, Paul ditto contributes with a one-page strip at the end of every issue, and heís probably the best storyteller working in the medium right now.
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