Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sunday Sitdowns: Jack Staff Volume 1: Everything Used to be in Black and White by Paul Grist

Published by Image Comics

Jack Staff is Britains Greatest Hero, or at least he used to be. Twenty years ago he disappeared and everyone just forgot about him. Except for Becky Burdock, Girl Reporter for The World's Press. She's investigating a series of murders in Castletown, but finds a lot more than she expected, including a long forgotten superhero and a secret that's been hidden for over sixty years. This volume collects all 12 issues of the original black and white Jack Staff series, published by Dancing Elephant Press.
I've read a lot of books this past month and there were some really good ones in there, which made this a kind of hard to choose. Ultimately, Jack Staff got the pass, probably because I read all four trades of it available so far. I say this a lot, but this book is fun which, sadly, isn't commonplace in today's comic industry. Everyone wants their dark and gritty books so very few people are willing to take the risk with a comic embracing what it is and encourage fun characters and comic book roots. Fitting the story and subject matter, Paul Grist's style has a nice classic feel to it with a modern touch.

One of the biggest praises for Grist's Jack Staff is it's anthology presentation and multi-linear storylines. I can't agree enough. Especially in a trade form, though I imagine it works great in individual issues, Jack Staff's anthology presentation cuts up the story in a refreshing way. The first trade follows reporter Becky Burdock and Jack Staff in the present while every now and then we visit Jack Staff in his Freedom Fighter days with homages to Captain America and Human Torch, then a father and son vampire hunting team, and The Q who are paranormal investigators. The story ranges from World War II to present day as the reader slowly figures out characters now and then and in the future.

I would certainly recommend this to someone looking for a superhero book. It's fun and interesting and while the characters are more like homages, there's a nice feel to them. Jack Staff crams the fun of comic books, old pulp fiction stories, fantasy, and even some television tropes here and there. Being a British book there are a lot of cultural references but all is not lost if they go over one's head. I'm pumped for the next volume to get put in a trade so I can pick it up and read it. Rating: 4/5.

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