The Mysterious Strangers #1 & #2 Review
By: Rob Neil Gruszecki
Back during a time of Cold War, Beatlemania and burgeoning space travel, a group of crime fighters with eerie abilities are united to protect the world from threats extra-terrestrial and superhuman in origin. Battling against terrorist beauty pageant whack-jobs, goat headed demon cultists, mind controlling behemoths, alien fish warriors and even more bizarre and unbelievable enemies of mankind. Verity Mills, Michael Kono, Sandoval and their mastermind Absalom Quince join together and utilize their individual strengths and god like powers to bring justice to a strange world.
The Mysterious Strangers from Oni Press comics is the new project from Monkeybrain mastermind Chris Roberson (iZombie) and Calgary artist Scott Kowalchuk (The Intrepids) and it reads like a mashup of television’s the Avengers and the Doom Patrol. Featuring outrageous characters, sci-fi mayhem and secret agent style espionage, this new monthly series boasts wild imagination and honest fun. Embracing all the qualities of joy and light-hearted adventure that the medium is a perfect stage for the Strangers is setting out to be one of the most enjoyable new titles of the summer.
Issue one of the series, first released on Free Comic Book Day this year, is reissued alongside the publication of issue two and features a connecting cover by Kowalchuk showing the heroes as they wrestle monsters and the crazed Occult. The two issues comprise both parts of the initial story arc The Purloined Leader featuring a mystical discovery buried deep in the Caribbean Island of Hidalgo. The story tosses you into a thickly detailed world with well realized characters already in the midst of adventure and the introduction into their universe is exciting and seamless, not bogged down with origins or ‘getting the band together’ storytelling. The exciting pace is consistent throughout the whole story, exploding in the first chapter and satisfyingly wrapped up in the second.
Scott Kowalchuk’s style captures the psychedelia of the era while combining it with elements of the metaphysical. His designs for otherworldly oddities who fight with the Strangers are phenomenal, creative and amusing and simultaneously, his main character designs of the team are classy and look pulled from an early Bond film. An incredible talent such as Kowalchuk’s is great when seen in this environment of superhero craziness and zany science fiction and it will hopefully bring his name a lot more attention.
Having read iZombie and Action Comics from Roberson I was already a fan of his voice but this series I think is a project that really highlights his strengths as a creator and will quickly become my favorite from him. The dialogue is so perfectly B movie and the whole team has a delightful, curious charm to them that makes them both compelling and loveable.
The Mysterious Strangers is a well scripted, beautifully drawn, colourful, ass-kicking, action comic that unleashes everything out of the toybox to dream up a blast of a fantasy.
Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician, podcaster and Wednesday Warrior
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