Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Classics - Guest Review - Journey #1

   Here with another Guest Review is our man Dave Wright with a review of one of my favorite Independent comics:

   Journey: The Adventures of Wolverine MacAlistaire by William Messner-Loebs was initially published by Aardvark-Vanaheim for the first 14 issues, and then published by  Fantagraphics for further adventures.   

   I didn't pick up the early run on it, I found a few copies somewhere in the middle of the series, and then later found a copy of the IDW collection, which contains issues #1 - 16.  

   Journey is an adventure comics about frontier life in around the territories of Michigan and Fort Miami in the 1800s.  

   Wolverine MacAlistaire is a trapper by trade, who shuns society, yet can be brave and resilient when needed. He is described as a brute of a man, grown old on the frontier. More beast than human, with the evil and darkness of the wild in his soul. 

   The first issue opens with a flashback tale told while waiting for a ferry by a cut-throat villain who, along with two other accomplices, had previously jumped MacAlistaire at his camp, stealing his animal pelts, clothing and livelihood, leaving him staked out to die in the snow. 

   So the story starts out as a tale of revenge and equity, and after old scores are settled, we follow Wolverine as he travels through  the wilderness. William Messner-Loebs has a unique way that he tells his stories, in the slang and voice of that time period, sometimes writing in that manner as well.  This can be a bit jarring at first, but you get used to it quickly.  

   His artwork is unique too, sometimes stark, sometimes detailed,  a bit sketchy or perfunctory at times, using gesture and negative space to convey the mood as well.  

   The last part of issue #1 turns into a high chase and some comic relief as well, as Wolverine stumbles up on a black bear. He runs for his life, hoping to outfox the bear, not wanting to become some bleached bones for some other trapper to find later.  

   If  you enjoy westerns like Jeremiah Johnson and Little Big Man and stories of early historical frontier life, this would be a good comic to pick up.  It's a mixture of heroic adventure, fictional and historical drama, and dealing with the awe of nature.  

Grade A



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