Jack Staff #12

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
It's an all-out action issue as Jack Staff battles a time-lost Kapitan Kreig, the Nazi super-warrior who has a deep mystical secret inside him.

Okay, yeah, it does sound a little bit silly, but this issue is really a tremendously fun and unique super-hero story with spectacular art by Paul Grist. Grist seems to love taking standard setups in this series and turning them in completely unexpected directions. For one thing, Kapitan Kreig isn't actually an evil villain, even during World War II. Instead he appears to simply be a guy who tried to be patriotic and got a bizarre demon stuck inside his body for his trouble. Various heroes show up and try to defeat the demon, but it truly is a team effort, as Helen Morgan, Agent of Q, the Eternal Warrior, and a certain very familiar visionary called Morlan help Jack to overcome evil.

There are so many clever scenes in this comic. The way Morlan defeats the demon is a very clever pastiche to a famous comic that a guy with a name similar to Morlan's wrote many years ago. A reader who knows the pastiche can't help but to laugh, while a reader coming to it fresh will still think the scene is clever.

I loved the spookiness of how the demon emerged from Kapitan Krieg's body, and how the demon looked both familiar and strange. I can't help but feel like I saw something like him before, but I have no idea where that might have been. Meanwhile the roots of the Eternal Warrior were obvious, but Grist's take on Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion was funny and fascinating.

Those are two words that really fit the comic that Grist creates here. It's funny in such a unique way - playing with the roots and traditions of super-hero comics while also blazing its own special trail. The backgrounds for Grist’s characters are fascinating. Very little seems to be on the surface; each character seems to have their own inner depth to themselves.

And of course Grist's art is impeccable. He's a master of the clean line style, with the ability (obviously influenced by Alex Toth) to use a minimum number of lines to produce work of startling depth and complexity. The bright coloring in the comic helps even more, as it adds to the feeling that this comic by a British cartoonist is a sort of merger of the best of British and American comics done right. This really is a special comic, one that rewards repeat readings on unexpected levels. Even for an all-out action comic, Jack Staff #12 gives a reader a lot to think about.

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