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Bound & Ungagged:
TPB Reviews
By Dan Epstein


Fantastic Four Visionaries
Reprinting Fantastic Four Vol. 1 issues #232 - #240
by John Byrne
Paperback - 224 pages
Marvel Books

Believe me, when Marvel started the Visionaries line I wasn’t very impressed. Kevin Smith is an alright comic book writer but the first Daredevil Visionaries should have not been him. And X-Men Visionaries: Joe Madureira? Please, more like a peyote vision. What the hell was Bob Harras smokin’!

When I heard that Marvel was going to be releasing a Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne "best of" I was pretty upset. Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil was comprehensively reprinted in three volumes. I felt that they weren’t giving Byrne’s run on FF as much respect as they gave Miller’s run on Daredevil.

But Marvel came through and has started the first reprint volume of Byrne’s run on Fantastic Four. These stories hold up just as well, if not better, than when they first appeared in the early 1980’s. About the only things out of date are the hairstyles and when someone mentions “those new solar powered calculators.”

I only had a smattering of issues from Byrne’s run so this book is great for people like me and even better for people who have those issues and don’t want to ruin them in anticipation of the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. For the first time I get to read stories I only read about in flashback or in Marvel Universe. Stuff like how the Inhumans moved to the moon, when Frankie Raye (Nova) first burst into flames and, this is the coolest one, Byrne started experimenting with the Invisible Girl’s powers and she was able to travel on her shield. Awesome.

The book has just a few problems. Like the coloring should have been rendered again, perhaps on computer. Also, every trade paperback from every company should be accompanied by an introduction. I don’t care if it's by Byrne himself, Terry Austin or even Joe Quesada talking about what an impact these books had on people that influenced him. But since Marvel’s trade paperbacks keep going up in price, give us a little extra.

Article continued below advertisement

Horrible, Horrible Cartoons
by Ivan Brunetti
Paperback - 96 pages
Fantagraphics Books

Did you ever read The Family Circus? Don’t worry, Ivan Brunetti did. Probably just everyday for 25 years and it screwed him up big time. Haw! is subtitled, "Horrible, Horrible Cartoons" and believe me these cartoons are everything sick could possibly be. From misogyny to castration to child molestation, every God dies on the very first page.

As I wrote above, if Alan Moore had gotten the rights to revamp Family Circus and Peanuts instead of changing the names of the Charlton characters, it would be Haw!

But it's funny and even I was offended but offended in that funny way. Like if my girlfriend saw me laughing at it, I would hide the book, but if some artsy stranger in a downtown coffee shop saw me reading it while they were sipping their damn latte I would show it to them just so they would walk away disgusted.

Brunetti is obviously a fan of the Marquis de Sade. It was always rumored that de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom wasn’t an actuality but a fantasy done by a brilliant satirist ripping the seams of an uptight society. I would say nearly the same statement about Haw!

It wouldn’t be right just to pigeonhole Brunetti as surrealistic Sunday comic strip. On the back of it he proves by having a quote by Arhur Schopenhauer, one of the more influential philosophers of the 20th century. The quote is, “The world is itself the last judgment on it.” Reading into it, every single one of the events that takes place could have happened in real life and Brunetti is holding up that classic mirror to society. But it's also damn funny.

Brunetti tries in both in the first and last page of the book to play this book and his role in it down. In the first page he says that these are jokes he thought of a long time ago. Still, I have the feeling he came up with them a week before being published and still finds them just as funny as always. And in the last page he calls himself impotent. And with all the anger spewed out on these pages……..this I believe.

Metabarons: Book 2
Reprinting issues 6 - 10
by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Juan Giminez
Humanoids Publishing

As Warren Ellis has stated in the past, this book defies description. Jodorowsky has created some of the most visually unique films of all time like the cult film El Topo and more recently 1989’s Santa Sangre. But with the Metabarons he may have created his most beautiful work and compelling work yet.

Years before David Lynch did his film version of Dune, Jodorowsky was set to do his. He had hired Moebius (before The Airtight Garage) and had met with SFX wizard Douglas Trumbull. But as we all know it was not met to be. Metabarons may well be a form of revenge. The series is more multi-layered than anything Lynch or anyone else has ever has done with the science fiction form. Jodorowsky has created a fascinating lineage within this world. The Metabarons are a long line of powerful warriors who must be killed by their sons who thus become the new Metabaron in their stead. The Metabarons are super-strong, fast, and when one unhooks from his robotic feet he can fly due to an accident of birth.

The story is fascinating; my only complaint is that the story is told in flashback by this extremely annoying robot to a more “naïve” robot. Perhaps this humorous aspect of the story is lost in the translation from French to English.

But though the story is brilliant, and would perhaps still be brilliant if Scott Adams of Dilbert fame were drawing it, artist and frequent Jodorowsky collaborator Juan Gimenez brings it to a level that would even drop Terry Gilliam’s jaw in awe. Each page has something new and wonderful to look at. It is an insane book. And I have never enjoyed comic book space sagas (or movie ones for that matter). If the Wachowski brothers (creators of The Matrix films) subjugate a comic book, this will probably be it.


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