Short Cuts 6: I.M.A.G.I.N.E. Agents; Richard Stark’s Parker–Slayground; The Little Man–Short Strips 1980–1995; Battling Boy–The Rise of Aurora West

Imagine AgentsI.M.A.G.I.N.E. Agents [BOOM! Studios, 2014] was a four-issue miniseries by writer Brian Joines (“Noble Causes”) and artist Bachan (“Justice League”) which I picked up as an e-comic in one of the Humble Bundle offers. It’s a mostly-fun story about covert agents (think “Men In Black”) charged with corralling rogue children’s imaginary friends–the idea is that children become unable to see their imaginary friends (which the agents call “figments”) when they turn eight, leaving their imagined creatures free to roam in the wild. Some of them need managing, either due to malice or just being casually destructive. The story focuses on two agents whose routine day quickly turns into something much larger than routine. Given the premise, a lot of the storytelling weight falls on the artist’s shoulders, and Bachan does not disappoint. He turns in a wide variety of fanciful creatures.It was recently announced that Michael Keaton had acquired the movie rights for a film from Fox.

Cooke SlaygroundFinally got to Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground, Darwyn Cooke’s fourth Parker adaptation. Terrific and brutal, as always. In this one Parker escapes from an armored car robbery gone wrong and takes refuge in an amusement park that is closed for the season. When the police don’t come right in after him he correctly surmises that they’re on the take: which means they will come in after his money and kill him so there will be no witnesses. He rigs up a number of traps in the park, but his escape plan becomes complicated by the presence of a local gangster. There’s two protracted hunts for him, and he finally pulls some of his nearly superhuman moves to escape. This book also contains a short story, “The 7enth.” And a final note: “Parker will return in 2015.” The only thing wrong with the Parker series is the long wait between installments.

The-Little-Man-cover-webThe Little Man: Short Strips 1980–1995 is a collection of Chester Brown cartoons that I got as an e-book in the Forbidden Comics Humble Bundle. Most of the early ones are only a page long, and feature some surreal twist. Occasionally they’re funny, but mostly they’re just odd.  Brown’s draftsmanship improves markedly during the later cartoons, as he acknowledges in his final notes. The strips also tend to get longer, especially the autobiographical ones like “Helder” (which appeared in Yummy Fur #19), “Showing Helder,” “The Little Man” and “Danny’s Story.” By the end of this period Brown had moved on to longer form narratives, but this was a nice introduction to his work for me.

Pope Aurora WestBattling Boy: The Rise of Aurora West continues Paul Pope’s Battling Boy series by focusing on Haggard West and his daughter. Pope is only credited as co-writer, with JT Petty; David Rubin provides the B&W art. So it’s surprising how well it fits in with the first Battling Boy story that Pope wrote and illustrated himself. It’s got the same energy (especially during the fight scenes), and looks similar visually. The story goes back to Haggard West’s origins as a science hero/monster hunter, including the death of his wife and daughter Aurora’s apprenticeship. It’s a fairly complete story, but is only the first part of Aurora’s adventures, which continue in Battling Boy: The Fall of the House of West, due out later this month.

About marksullivan5

Freelance Journalist & Musician; Senior Contributor, All About; writing on comics at & No Flying, No
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