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Adventureman #1: a spectacular-looking homage to the Golden Age of comics

Written by Matt Fraction, Pencils and colours by Terry Dodson, Inks by Rachel Dodson, Letters by Clayton Cowles.

Adventureman #1 is a 60 page epic start to an ongoing series by Matt Fraction and the Dodsons. The process started in 2008, when the team were working on Uncanny X-Men, according to Fraction's 4 page afterword. They wanted to do something that was an homage to the pulp heroes of yesteryear, yet also something that had a passing of the torch to a modern hero. For this to happen, the first half of the issue is about the original team, needing a fully functioning team with backstory on each character. Yet when we meet our “present day” protagonists all this effort is wiped out. However, it was needed to make sure the characters didn’t feel one-dimensional. Thankfully, the team is a triumph that’s fully fleshed out, and I’m actually slightly disappointed we didn’t get more. Although I get the feeling that we will get glimpses of these heroes as the series progresses.

The comic is about Claire, a single mother to a super fan Tommy. Both love the stories of the heroes. We get a sense that she feels intimidated by her large family (potentially foster as there’s 7 sisters), maybe because she runs her deceased mother's book store, and not out saving lives like some of the others, or it could be due to her hearing disability. Either way it seems like she’s embarrassed by her life. This however might change, as a suspicious lady enters the store giving Claire a book about the heroes. From then on she starts to see clues everywhere. We start to wonder along with her, are these heroes real? What happened? It’s clear this will challenge her and change her life, yet her super fan son can’t wait to start the adventure.

The first thing that struck me about this book was how spectacular the art was. I cannot think of a modern comic that looks as good as this.

The Dodsons clearly know what goes well for each other. The colour palettes are truly amazing, giving off the classic look when we see the original team, yet also looking contemporary when we get to Claire’s story.

This feels like something special. I felt it when I picked up Die and I’m feeling it now. It’s clear that a lot of love, time, and effort has been put into this book. At 60 pages for a first issue, that’s still got a normal price tag, this is incredible value for the money. I say that you get what you pay for, and I’m happy to pay extra for a quality product, but this feels like we are being undercharged! The art alone is worth more than the issue price. The story is fantastically told from 2 different eras, Fraction is at the top of his game here, and it shows how much he and the team care about this book. He also says in the afterword that he can imagine telling many stories within this world, saying that kind of idea doesn’t come around often.

I was worried about what comics we were going to get post-COVID; would there be problems with delays of comics, or problems with rushing comics out that aren’t finished just to get a product on the shelf. If this is anything to go by, there are not going to be many setbacks. If we get this kind of quality constantly, then I will be happy. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Adventureman #1 was released on 10th June by Image Comics. Available from your local comic shop (some are still trading even if officially closed) or from comixology

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