I am a big fan of comics and I do take them seriously. I still cringe with the memory of my parents calling them funny-books. After all, comics and graphic novels have always played a key role in fandom and they are still important to the growth and success of the literary world. Some of the most prolific characters and memorable quotes have come from comics.
There are three important things I look for in a comic. One, of course you need a good story. Second, I expect exquisite artwork to enhance if not inspire the story. And the third thing I look for is perhaps the most important, and that is something unique to catch my attention and hit me with the Wow factor. There are a lot of comics out there. So if it does not say wow, then it just gets lost in the herd. With new creations hitting the shelves every week, and at $3 to $4 a pop, I’m pretty picky when it comes to buying comics…even if some people just consider them funny-books.
Sure there’s always the occasional surprise inside, but the wow factor happens most often on the cover. Dynamite Entertainment has recently started publishing a fresh new series titled Legenderry – A Steampunk Adventure. The stylishly romantic aspect of a Victorian steampunk world with twists of celebrated references is immediately evident in the cover illustration. We see two socially successful women posing with two extravagantly attired men. The main covers are by Joe Benitez (creator of the Lady Mechanika series), but Sergio Fernandez Davila is the credited artist for this series. Yes, the artwork was my wow factor that encouraged me to give this comic a closer look.
Though the spelling is a bit unique (another eye catching element that makes the reader wonder if there may be more to it), the series title is a foreshadow to the fantastic array of “legendary” characters who will appear in the story. Writer Bill Willingham brings his successful knack of resurrecting classic characters to this series (his successful Fables series out of the DC Vertigo imprint is known for reviving classic literary characters from mythology, fairy tales and other folklore). The fact that these characters mesh so smoothly in this stage he has created, Willingham gives the readers a sense of believability and comfort that begs to question why they have not been used more often.
Along with some new original characters in the Legenderry series, Willingham also includes the familiar likes of Vampirella, The Green Hornet and Kato, Captain Victory, The Phantom, Flash Gordon and Dr Moreau. Even The Six Thousand Dollar Man (that’s thousand, not million because it’s Victorian era) makes an appearance. It doesn’t take long to understand why this is a “Legenderry” series as more and more recognizable characters keep turning up.
Oh yeah, the first priority I listed as important when looking for a great comic was a good story. We already know the Legenderry series is loaded with strong established characters, but the backbone for literary success is the story. From the very first pages of issue #1, the elaborate setting of the Big City is a fitting stage for conflict. The beautiful Miss Magna Spadarossa is searching for her missing sister Sonja, but when the mysterious Mr. Avalon and his clone-like troops attempt to interfere with her efforts, the vast collection of legendary forces step in and help. The action is fast paced and the plot twists as little nuggets of clues are gradually provided. In the tradition of the successful “to be continued” cliffhangers, the last page leaves the reader with the anticipation of what’s to come “next” rather than the dread of having to dish out more cash for the next issue.
Those familiar with my postings here and elsewhere are well aware of my fondness for works of Steampunk. So when I stumbled upon Legenderry – A Steampunk Adventure, I was pleasantly surprised. It is presented by Dynamite as a limited seven-issue series, so you won’t be facing the long term (and sometimes endless) commitment many series force upon their readers. If you’re looking for a unique comic with a good story and top notch artwork, Legenderry is a good place to start. Who knows? You might even say “Wow.”