01st Nov2013

Graphic Novel Review: ‘A1 – The World’s Greatest Comics Vol.1′

by Phil Wheat

Written and drawn by Various | Edited by Dave Elliott | Published by Atomeka/Titan Comics

A1-Annual-cover

British comics have always done things a little bit differently. From the heady days of Marvel UK to the more recent CLiNT, British comic writers and artists have not been afraid to experiment with both format and story. A1 has always been a laboratory for creators to experiment and innovate, to break away from corporate creations and unleash their own ideas - and that traditional continues in A1: The World’s Greatest Comics Vol.1.

Already a very successful new monthly comic book, A1: The World’s Greatest Comics Vol.1. is the first annual and features a veritable Who’s Who of comics’ talent  past, present and future, writing and drawing a veritable cornucopia of stories… Including such famous names as Ron Marz, Matt Wagner, Jim Steranko, D’Israeli, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Dave Gibbons, Bill Sienkiewicz and Kevin Eastman.

Such a wide variety of artist and writers means that A1: The World’s Greatest Comics Vol.1 feels very disjointed – some stories run long, others too short, then there are more prose pieces (the less said about the “Artful Latte” the better however). And I’ll be honest, a lot of the stories in this anthology are completely forgettable. Except one. One tale stands out from the pack and still sticks in my mind now, days after reading the book, and that is Tales of Old Fennario, written and drawn by Sandy Plunkett… An old-school black and white tale, Tales of Old Fennario features some truly impressive art, lovely and rich and expressive, with plenty of heavy line-art that is reminiscent of the old British Scream comic, or William Gaines’ Tales From the Crypt; the story has the same moralistic “sting-in-the-tale” conclusion that proliferated those types of comic too.

There are a few other notable strips in this book: Odyssey, a riff on the oft-told Captain America story that plays on audience expectations; and The Melting Pot: In The Beginning by Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley which, whilst light on story, features some bloody (literally) amazing artwork.

An eclectic mix of art, story and creators, A1: The World’s Greatest Comics Vol.1 is unlike any other collected works on the market today. It doesn’t quite live up to the books subtitle but it surely ranks right up there.

A1: The World’s Greatest Comics Vol.1 is available now from Titan Comics.

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