Taking a chance on an anthology can be risky business. This is doubly so when you’re dealing with independent creators, who have no usual attachment to the Marvel universe. It’s also not going to help sales to know that none of these tales are canon or in current continuity. This series had an initial three issue run last year and I was very impressed with what I read there. So, in my earnest effort to help sales, I am going to say one thing: there is some great stuff in this comic.
I would love to buy an anthology where every single inclusion is gold dust. I don’t think it has ever happened. This comic doesn’t break the trend, I don’t expect anything ever will, but there is enough quality here to make the purchase worthwhile, definitely. In the count, there are nine stories I liked and three I didn’t. That’s good darts by anyone’s count. There are even some things I loved, and a great cover piece of art.
Rafael Grampa opens the comic with a tale of violence and emotion about Wolverine. We see a sick fight club of mutants with healing powers who tear each other apart each day only to do it again the next. There is an excess of blood and gore here which is surprising because the main premise is that Wolverine just can’t connect. While we figure that out, we get Grampa’s intense and leathery designs and use of Sabretooth, Wild Child, and Deadpool. This story is five stars, easily.
There’s an amazing ability for many of these creators to generate some laughs amidst all of the varied character moments. It would be nice if Wolverine didn’t seem like such an easy choice for an anthology, but it’s not off-putting. Though there is humor here, often it is juxtaposed by a solid emotional moment that slaps you in the face as it walks away. It’s nice to see a level of literary control displayed with these characters we love so much, and some we don’t.
The art is a mish-mash of styles and it’s refreshing to turn the page and be confronted with new lines and takes on the Marvel U. It’s like flipping through different sites on the internet. This anthology is perfect for ADD types who live and die by the ALT-TAB combo; you won’t get bored in these pages.
When this comic is on it’s pretty well on. Funny, insightful, brutal, or just cool, this comic gives you bits of everything. If you want to see an alliance between Galactus and Magneto, how the Red Skull can’t stand in the way of capitalism no matter what he tries, how to distract Kraven, what happens when a kid in a suit just doesn’t get it, or Jeff Lemire’s Man-Thing, then you must buy this comic. Or you could just soak up Grampa’s tale; Did I mention it’s a rock solid five stars? You owe it to yourself to support this comic with your money, it’s smart and well made and something different. “Strange Tales II” is great and the world deserves so much more of it.