[Brass Ring Productions $2.50 US B&W]
Written & Illustrated by Various
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I’ve got to applaud the guys (and gal) who put out Anomaly. They’ve published three issues of an anthology title and managed to find creators who’ll not only produce work but produce work of a surprisingly high quality overall.
The strongest of the seven stories appear first. In “Champion” Caleb Gerard explores the problems a super-hero who also happens to be mayor of a large city might face. The premise and the characters were intriguing enough that I would like to see the story expand into a stand-alone issue or series. The pencils by Bobby Breed and inks by Jay Leisten & Julio Naran are solid especially when it comes to handling the action sequences.
The second story, “Along the Foggy Trail” by Dennis Shumate was a western with a Twilight Zone twist ending. My only complaint with this story was that I figured out the twist ending far too early. The artwork by Seaward Tuthill was beautifully detailed and reminiscent of a much rougher and less polished John Severin. I’d love to see more comic work from this artist in the future.
“Sworn Enemies,” written by Raymond E. Brown, was an amusing look at a super-hero being deposed. Not removed from his position of power, but deposed by lawyers. The super-hero in question, Donar, is a Norse god of Thunder and full of the regal majesty of his position. Reading the interplay between him and the opposing counsel was a hoot. Jacob Bear’s artwork in this story was influenced by the Jim Lee/Marc Silvestri School of character design, which sometimes made it difficult to differentiate between characters. A skilled inker could give Bear’s artwork a more polished look and perhaps bring solidity to his figures.
Johnny Lowe’s “Artifacts” was an origin story for a geeky high school teen as she discovers her link to some recently discovered mysterious artifacts. The pacing was a little rushed for me but I realize they’re trying to cram as much as they can in a few pages. Here was another concept that could hold its own as a comic series. Richard Garcia’s art was chock full of background details and each of his characters was distinctive. It was also refreshing to see characters that looked like real people.
“Year of the Boar” by Dan Hoagland with artwork by Corey Peery ended up being the weakest of the issue. It was told without words and involved two martial artists battling in an outdoor arena with the end result being a statement about the United State’s two party political system. The artwork was very rough and consisted mainly of panels of the two martial arts guys posing and fighting. There wasn’t much of a story here and the artwork wasn‘t of a high enough quality to carry the plot.
Another foray into the super-hero genre by Ellen Topkis, “The Fire Brand,” had the potential to be really good but I felt like I’d been dumped in the middle of this world and what little was explained was told with dialogue that was too snappy for its own good. One page of panels in particular was so dialogue heavy I got lost among the word balloons. This one was really hurt by the anthology format. With more pages the artist could have spread the conversations out over several pages thus keeping the reader from getting way too confused. As it was I felt like I was dumped in the middle of your average Image Comics team super-hero book full of inter-changeable heroes and villains with no real connection to the people or the world they inhabit.
This story, though short, also ended up with two different artists. Fabian Chow illustrated the bulk of the story. Chow’s art seemed to be influenced by Travis Charest’s figure work, and except for those word balloon crowded panels, was a highlight of the story. Julio Naran handles the last two pages and the change in styles was noticeable. Naran’s work wasn't near as polished and looked amateurish next to Chow‘s.
“Lapse,” written and inked by Daniel R. Wickline told the tale of a time-traveling hit man. I really liked the artwork on this story. Mikel Whelan’s layouts were good and brought this rather pedestrian story up a notch or two.
It’s tough to sell an anthology title especially in today’s crowded market but Anomaly does a good job of giving the reader an entertaining mix of stories and at only $2.50 for 56 pages you definitely get more good stuff than bad.
If you’d like to give this issue a try and can’t find it at your local comic shop write to Brass Ring Productions. 1152 West 24th Street, #1, San Pedro, CA 90731. Or e-mail them at BrssRngCmx@aol.com.