Friday, April 21, 2017
"To say I was in trouble makes me guilty of considerable understatement."
Tarzan is pretty much a known entity. It helps that the most recent attempt at rebooting him as a film franchise came out recently, but there's a lot more to the legend of the character that has endured. There are quite a few other characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs that may not be as well known to modern day readers. Dynamite Entertainment is looking to change that in The Greatest Adventure #1. The issue is written by Bill Willingham, illustrated by Cezar Razek, colored by Daniela Miwa and lettered by Taylor Esposito.
In ancient days, Jason gathered the greatest heroes of his age and set out on the ultimate sea voyage. Now, in Tarzan's era, Jason Gridley does the same. The greatest heroes of the Edgar Rice Burroughs universe come together as the crew of the good ship Venture, with none other than Tarzan as their captain. It's a race this time, against a battleship of dark hearted villains, and the fate of many worlds hangs in the balance.
Willingham spends most of the first issue getting the reader ready for the series by having Jason Gridley recount a series of set-up events. Typically, such an overdose of expository might be a little overwhelming (and it is to an extent here), but Willingham makes it work very well. Considering the sheer number of characters included in the book, Willingham does a fantastic job of giving everyone page-time while simultaneously getting the reader up to speed. There's a lot of disparate mythologies involved in the book and Willingham successfully weaves them all together through Gridley's tale. The dialogue assists in this as well with characters introducing themselves to one another in a way that moves the story along and helps out the likely uninformed reader.
This is a book about pulp heroes, so it only makes sense that Razek's style fits accordingly. Razek's approach emphasizes that sense of nostalgia by showing characters drawn with multiple coarse lines that gives them a greater sense of heft. There's a sense of grittiness in the way Razek places the characters on the page that goes a long way in reinforcing the notion that this comic could easily be found in a newspaper from a century ago. And each of the characters are pretty clearly distinguishable based on decades of lore; the establishing, two-page spread at the end of the issue is a great look at everyone involved. Miwa's color work goes a long way in furthering the old-school comic mentality here, capitalizing on washed out tones throughout.
The Greatest Adventure #1 is a very intense first issue as far as storytelling goes, but the payoff could be immense. Bringing together such storied literary heroes is certainly no small task, but The Greatest Adventure #1 looks to be handling it well. Willingham spends the majority of the issue getting the reader acquainted with the key players and setting before diving into all the good stuff further down the line. Razek's illustrations are perfect for the content of the story. The Greatest Adventure #1 is a pretty slick take on a slew of known characters, bringing them all together for a grand--dare I say great--adventure.
The Greatest Adventure #1 is available now.