Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Classic Comics - The Way of the Rat #1

   Turning the clock back to the long-ago days of 2002, one of the upstart comic companies that actually seemed to have a shot at earning parity with the "Big Two" was CrossGen.

   The company hired some of the industry's top writers and artists and unleashed them on a wildly creative line of comics.

   For a wide variety of reasons, the company eventually crashed and burned (to the ground), leaving almost no trace - and I'll be honest, I don't miss most of their titles at all.

   But there are a few exceptions, and at the top of the list is the brilliant Way of the Rat.

   Written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Jeff Johnson and Tom Ryder, it tells the story of a humble thief in medieval China who stumbles on two unique treasures and finds himself fighting for his life against angry females, murderers, fellow thieves and assassins.

   It's a tale of magic, murder and martial arts, paying homage to classic martial arts movies while mixing in humor, intrigue and terrific characters. The best way to sum it up would be to say it's like the best Jackie Chan movie ever - in comics form.

   The art is amazing, with realistic and inventive fight sequences, amazing environments and designs - just a pure delight.

   The good news is, the series isn't completely lost to the ages - there are collections of the series available (though it may take some digging) - and there's even a (somewhat crudely) animated version.

   It's a terrific story, and if there was any justice, we'd be reading the 130th (or so) issue right now, instead of settling for the wonderful collections (when you can find them).

   Just a great romp and loads of fun - it gets my highest recommendation!

Grade: A+




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