Under the Radar: A1 Anthology

This week on Under the Radar I’m going to be showing you guys an anthology series, A1

A1 is a series with quite a bit of history.  It started with the British publisher, Atomeka Press, in the late 80’s and featured one off and serial stories; some featuring characters published by other companies such as the Flaming Carrot and Mr. Monster.  It also featured some big names in comics such as Alan Moore.  Then in 1992, A1 was picked up Epic Comics, an imprint of Marvel Comics.  It was revived again in 2004 by Atomeka and now, with help from the newly formed Titan Publishing imprint. Titan Comics, Atomeka and the A1 anthology are being brought back yet again.

Since the book is an anthology, it contains multiple stories, three to be exact: The Weirding Willows, Odyssey, and Carpe Diem. So, in no particular order, I’ll give you guys a brief review of each

The Weirding Willows: So what if Alice was the daughter of Dr. Moreau, Dr. Jekyll and the Wicked Witch were partners in crime, Dr. Doolittle was an animal smugger, and Peter Rabbit lived in the woods just outside the Moreau property?  Well if you said a delightfully creepy tale about Moreau getting commissioned to create the Wicked Witche’s flying monkey army then you’re freaking psychic because I had no idea what to expect from this story.  Half the fun with this story is trying to remember where you’ve seen the characters before. It took me a while to remember where Farmer McGregor was from.   The Weirding Willows is an interesting twist on some classic, English children’s story characters and well worth the purchase price even if the other two stories don’t float your boat.

Carpe Diem: This one is about a quirky super spy/super hero team called Carpe Diem.  The theme runs deep with this team with everyone getting a week day as a code name with Sir Monday being a rotating position because often due to a case of sudden death.  It’s a fun read, lost of crazy action and one really crazy villain.  He’s a French cook named called The Iron who cooks up a giant Salad Demon.  But other than that, and looking forward to seeing who the new Sir Monday is, there’s not much else to say about it other than it is also worth the price of admission.

Odyssey: This one is much more serious than the other two stories.  Set in WWII, Odyssey takes the premise of what if the Americans were also using dark magic to fight the war.  The issue just shows us the particular project that the story is focusing on and not much else.  So as far as to how different this story will be compared to other high fantasy, alternate history narratives is yet to be determined.  I’m not completely sold on this story but that’s due to a general lack of information than what was shown.

While all these stories are entertaining, they all share two big drawbacks.  First, they’re all introductions and nothing more.  Carpe Diem is has the most complete narrative as compared that the others, but it still falls short in that it doesn’t really give us anything other than “Hey here’s some characters and a premise, tune in next month to find out what they do!”.  Second is that the all feel like knockoffs of bigger works.  The Weirding Willows feels like a more British, less sexy Fables, Odyssey is basically Captain America if his powers came from magic rather than science, and, again, Carpe Diem is the closest to being a standalone book, but even it feels like some sort of Umbrella Academy spinoff.  Now the criticisms are by no means insults but rather warnings.  All three stories could easily be run away hits or half baked rehashes of better books.  I still highly recommend this book because, even with their problems, this is still a first issue and there is high possibility that I’m wrong in my assessment of these stories.

Final Verdict: Carpe Librum, or What Would Homer Do? or I better see some Rescuers!

Till next time I’m The Writing Writer.

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