The Amazing Adventures o/t Escapist

I love the idea of related reading–delving deep into topics that interest me. My reach, however, nearly always exceeds my grasp. After I re-read Michael Chabon’s Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I reserved a number of books from the library: The Escapists by Brian K. Vaughan, Dark Horse Comics’ Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, v. 1-3, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (the latest novel by Chabon’s wife, Ayelet Waldman, whom I’ve read much about, though never read) and The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hadju, (a well-reviewed non-fiction book from 2008 about the censorship of comics in the fifties after their meteoric rise as a medium in the forties). I doubt if I’ll manage to read all of these before something else jumps to the head of the queue, like the Infinite Summer challenge, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

This week I read all three volumes of Dark Horse Comics’ Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, collecting the six-issue comic-book run of a few years ago. Like Brian K. Vaughan’s The Escapists as well as Chabon’s source novel, the series blends fact and fiction so the reader can either wonder (and possibly research) which parts are “really” real, or just go along for the ride. These books include stories and editorials interweaving comic-book history and material from Chabon’s fictional world, with both new and classic authors and illustrators.

Volume 1 has an introduction by Chabon, and opens with the Escapist’s origin, illustrated by Eric Wight, best known now for his comics work for the television show The O.C. It has an eye-catching cover and clever back-cover parody by award-winning cartoonist Chris Ware. I loved the Luna Moth story written and illustrated by Jim Starlin. My favorite piece, though, was the closing story “The Lady or the Tiger, illustrated by Gene Colan and written and with a preface by Glen David Gold (author of the Kavalier and Clay-esque Carter Beats the Devil).

In Volume 2, the standout was the opening story, done in the style of EC’s horror comics, written by comics vet Marv Wolfman.

Volume 3 has stronger stories than 2, I thought, with Will Eisner’s final work, along with a war tale, a noir mystery, a twisted romance and a closing story about euthanasia.

As with any anthology, the quality varies, and the presence of the work by some legends is sometimes more notable than the actual work here. But this is a top-notch production, with excellent covers, heavy paper and great art. It’s a good companion to Kavalier and Clay, and a lark for fans of Chabon’s book to see his fictive comic-book character in actual comic books.

2 Responses to “The Amazing Adventures o/t Escapist”

  1. gretchen Says:

    I thought Waldman’s book was terrible. If you get around to reading it, I’d be curious to find out if you also dislike it.

  2. girldetective Says:

    I reviewed it today. I found it uneven, wildly so at times, but with some good stuff. I wouldn’t recommend it across the board, but I’ll likely recommend it to two women in the step mother role and a good friend who’s part of the NYC mommy culture.