Apocalypse Al #1
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Line Art by Sid Kotian
Color by Bill Farmer
Review by Mike Duke
Apocalypse Al, the latest miniseries from Image imprint Joe’s Comics, is here to bring you the lighter side of Hell. It’s chock full of fun characters, quirky situations, and a world on the brink every few minutes, along with a few laughs for good measure. While I have a small issue with the format–which I will talk about later–this is a book that definitely deserves a read.
The “Al” in Apocalypse Al is Alison Carter, private detective specializing in the end of the world. She saves the world on a regular basis, some of her best friends are zombies, and her best informant lives under a bridge and wears a tin-foil hat. Mix a little Constantine/Hellblazer, a dash Ninth Gate, and a spoonful of Veronica Mars and you’ll get the idea. What sells a series like this is the main character, and I found Al to be instantly likable. She’s sarcastic without being caustic, funny without overdoing it, and smart enough to get herself and any bystanders out of any situation. She’s not motivated by the death of a lover or any of those tired cliches. She’s simply the next in line to inherit the job from her father, who got it from his father, and so on. My only issue with her is the moment she decides to run out of the house wearing nothing but skimpy lingerie, a jacket, and high heeled boots, but since the artist didn’t take gross advantage and start posing her all over the place, I will try to forgive it.
My biggest problem with the issue is simply that it’s an issue–the first of four. The more time I spend reading comics, the more I believe that we, the comics buying public, need to call for an end to the four issue miniseries. Many of you reading this will make a mental note of the fact that I liked the issue and store it away so that you can recall it later when the trade paperback is available. A story like this will almost always read better in trade, no matter how good the individual issues are. Why can’t we skip the middle step and just get these in trade right away?
The art in Apocalypse Al is good for all the right reasons. It doesn’t take advantage of the book’s female protagonist and try to make her into a pinup, even though the story presents the opportunity many times. The art adapts to the story nicely also, playing with non-traditional layouts and alternative art styles when the panel or the page calls for it. The pages flow well and everything fits together nicely. Colors and light effects are also nicely handled and do a great job of enhancing the line art.
Buy it. As I said, this will probably read better in trade, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for waiting. However, it is a good, fun, and funny read. And, for an industry that is trying hard to come up with more strong female characters, Apocalypse Al is a great example of how to create a good character and treat her with respect (most of the time.)