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A1: The World Greatest Comics, vol. 1

A1: The World Greatest Comics, vol. 1 by Dave Elliot (ed)

A1 has always been a laboratory for creators to experiment and innovate, to break away from corporate creations and unleash their own ideas. Already proving a success with the new monthly comic book, this first all-new A1 Annual marks the thrilling return of the award-winning graphic anthology series to bookshelves everywhere!
Inside these oversized pages, a Who’s Who of comics talent – past, present and future – spreads their imaginative wings across a gripping selection of all-new short stories. Which ones will be the breakout creator-owned characters of tomorrow?!

In the last couple of week I have been getting around doing some comic/graphic novel reviews, this has been a whole new terrain for me. First I didn't really know how to tackle writing such a review but its essentially the same as a book to be honest. I have been enjoying reading comic books, they allow me to break away a bit from the normal regime adding more diversity to my reading schedule, and if one comic book can do it, A1 Annual does it multiple times! This comic is an anthology of different comics all from the A1 line up. After some searching on the internet I found that A1 has been one of the leading comic publishers and Titan together with Atomeka Press plan to release a new anthology annually, something to look forward to!

The A1 Annual collects a total of 16 different comic stories by a plenty full of illustrators and writers. The complete line up is as follows:

  • Island in the Sky by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby 
  • Odd Ball by Alex SHiekman and Norman Felchle
  • Tales of Old Fennario by Sandy Plunkett
  • Odyssey: A Question of Priorities by Dave Elliot, Toby Cypress and Sakti Yuwono
  • Image Duplication by Rian Hughes and Dave Gibbons
  • Weird's Finest by Bambos Georgiou
  • Little Star by Dominic Regan
  • Emily Almost by Bill Sienkiewicz
  • Daniel by Scott Hampton
  • Frogs by Jim Steranko
  • Boston Metaphysical Society by Madeleine Holly-Rosing and Emily Hu
  • Mr Monster by Alan Moore and Micheal T. GIlbert
  • The Weirding Willows: Origins of Evil by Dave Elliot, Barnaby Bagenda and Jessica Kholinne
  • Devil's Whisper by James Robinson and D'Israeli
  • The Artful Latte by Depth Radius 
  • Melting Pot by Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley
As you can see and maybe judge by the names themselves there are some pretty skilled contributors in this anthology, and as much as I would like to discuss all the stories in this review it will turn into quite a lenghty one if I would do so. The collection in the A1 Annual Anthology shows a lot and I mean a lot of diveristy, different themes, from fantasy to science fiction and a bit 1800's-1900's era as well, but not only the themes differ, every comic is drawn in its own unique way, it's not all curved and well drawn pencil lines, some are more colorful, pixelated, jagged, crude or completely black and white, there are some internal pictures of the A1 annual added to this review. There is something for everyone hidden within this anthology. 

The first story that drew my attention was that of Odyssey, I am not familiar with this superhero branch but judging from his portrait I think he must fall in the lines of Captain America, this story focuses on John Wilson who died and got to be able to tell the tale, now with his secret identity he helps people in need. The cover image shows the image that you think of an all American superhero but once you open the comic itself it this kinda jagged rough feeling, its drawn in a most interesting way allowing several feats of the human body to be accentuated, yes I know.. kinda cryptic.. take a look at the pic to the left and you will know what I mean. Big burly guys, with a thick torso and limbs and heads to are a bit small in comparison in the proportions, I really enjoyed the way this comic was drawn as it is something that you don't see that often. Added to this is also the way that this story is told, yes it's a short one only 13 pages it's quite action packed, in the drawings it also comes to show that it's gritty, John's team is more ruthless than he is, they just do without thinking and a threat gets called in, they take direct action... even though it were protesters that just planned to egg the president, they get beaten, severly... In this few pages you get the essence of John character and that he puts everything in front of himself to save them. It's a pretty cool comic and I hope to read more about the Odyssey comic. 

Another story that leapt out of the pages was Doctor Arachnid "Little Star". This comic similarly to Odyssey has been drawn in a unique was, I don't know how to say it but its all color, is technicolor the correct word? It looks stunning especially in the contrasting colors used from dark pruple blue to red and contrasting it with white and yellow. I do have to admit that the story itself is a bit weird, and first couldn't really make heads or tails from it but rereading it shows some interesting views. 

A third story in the A1 annual that is quite different from your ordinary comic story is the Boston Metaphysical Society - The Way Home. This is an fill-in between the original webcomics of the Boston Metaphysical Society and is essentially a story by itself. There are to be exact 3 drawn pictures that highlight parts of the story and the rest all text,

but it all feels like you are NOT reading a story. The way that the pictures are drawn and how the story is being told are in perfect sync with each other. Even though the story does move forward you can relate a lot of the text to the picture itself giving you still that comic kind of feeling, with three pages of text. I will be sure to check out the webcomics asap.

Here is a link: 

And lastly there is the story of the Weirding Willows: Origins of Evil. This comic got me from the cover, what you can see are human and animals and as soon as you read the first pages you see they are talking animals. The protagonist of the series is a girl named Alice and in Origins of Evil she is preparing dinner at her Badger friends house. For me it was interesting to see how the animals would be shown, and in this comic they are "High Class" talking and in general acting as humans, and again the way they are drawn not all fluffy and furry but with several features highlighted, especially the mouse gave me some creeps. As I mentioned above the main protagonist is called Alice and that must ring some bells, as similarly to the popular show, there is also a cat that makes an appearance. The story explains on where Evil came from and who is better to tell such a story that than the Cheshire cat himself! And when you look closely at the message in this comic and how it was called into this world, it's all in an interesting perspective. Who is more evil than who?

These are just a few amazing tales that you can find in the A1 Annual, there are a lot more to discover and as I mentioned above each one is drawn and told in their own way. Some of the finest illustrators and authors have contributed to this first A1 volume. I already marked several comics that I will definitely be following up in the future and I look forward to the second volume of A1.

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