Monday, March 10, 2008

Avengers Fairy Tales #1

If the mere title of Avengers Fairy Tales doesn't summarize the story's themes clearly enough for you, I don't know what more I can do to help that process along. In this original one-shot, writer C.B. Cebulski does his best to tie the Avengers universe to the mythos of Peter Pan in the same vein as Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amano's The Sandman: Dream Hunters. On a few spectacular occasions, the comparison works, especially in the finer details, (The Wasp, for example, fills the role of Tinkerbell) but the big picture has a few snags.

Since it's relegated to just a single issue, the story feels like it gets off the ground much too quickly, and numerous opportunities for big, impressive visuals and amazing moments are passed over in favor of completing the story within the all-too-brief 23 page format. Some of the characters' counterparts in this story just don't seem to be a good match, either, and rather than eliminating them from the narrative, (or, perhaps, taking a little more creative license and inserting some new faces to the mix) they're just crammed into the picture anyway. That's a real shame, too, because for the most part the story is working really well, and the majority of the comparisons between Lost Boys and Avengers are surprisingly suitable… but just those few moments of weakness are enough to put a damper on the whole thing.

Joao Lemos's accompanying artwork is marvelous, and would feel right at home behind the cover of any number of children's books. Which isn't to say his style doesn't translate well to a more adult palette, either… quite the opposite, to tell the truth. Lemos's artwork is so clean and easy to comprehend that it allows the reader to really pinpoint and enjoy the grace and elegance of his gestures and compositions. His light, airy style is even further polished by Christina Strain's gorgeous colors, which respect the simplicity of his work while enlivening its surroundings. The issue's visual style casually floats from ethereal, dreamy watercolor to crisp, sharp separations between darkness and light, in the same vein as a good manga. The pair works together to create a visual that's frequently on the same level as the best Miyazaki films, the most fantastic Moebius comics. I don't think I could sing much higher praise.

This is quite an interesting concept, and in a few specific moments it really seems to click and deliver on its boatload of potential. The artwork in particular is genuinely beautiful, a perfect fit for the aura that should be surrounding this kind of a story, and the writing gives it as much opportunity to impress as it can afford. It's greatest downfall is its page count, however, and it frequently seems to be screaming at the top of its lungs for another issue or two to really flesh the concept out appropriately. Still, when it's working it's really working. Go ahead an borrow this if you get the chance, it retains all the finer aspects of a great old-fashioned fairy tale, while pairing them with a strangely familiar cast of characters.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 7

1 comment:

drqshadow said...

You can check out some of João Lemos's work from this issue, along with a few unused character models and sketchbook material in his blog. It's great, charming work.