The Escapists #1-3 (Dark Horse)

Vaughan, Alexander, and Rolston prove a little nostalgia can be golden.

32 pgs. ea. FC; #1 – $1.00 #2-3 – $2.99

(W: Brian K. Vaughan; A: Philip Bond, Eduardo Barreto, Jason S. Alexander and Steve Rolston)


The cover to The Escapists #1 by Frank Miller. Click thumbnail for a larger image.As writing goes, Brian K. Vaughan has nothing to prove. A multiple Eisner Award-winning and Wizard top ten writer, the man is responsible for some truly amazing comics (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Runaways, and Ultimate X-Men just to name a few). Teaming up with artists Steve Rolston (Queen and Country, MEK) and Jason S. Alexander (Damn Nation, Gotham Central) creates an impressive forum for storytelling.


But what's left to say that Michael Chabon hasn't already with his Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, or his Eisner Award-winning comic adaptation, the anthology The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist? It turns out, a lot. Vaughan certainly does not disappoint with the first three issues of this compelling tale revolving around Maxwell, a young comic writer who, after inheriting a sizable Golden Age comic collection from his father and an even larger inheritance from his mother, purchases the rights to The Escapist, a long-forgotten superhero that occupied much of Maxwell's childhood.


The cover to The Escapists #2 by James Jean. Click on thumbnail for a larger image.Together with the recently-out-of-work graphic designer Case and the surgeon-handed brick wall Denny, Maxwell forms The League of the Golden Key, a company that seeks to revive The Escapist. When Denny dresses up like the hero to stage a publicity stunt for the soon-to-be-released comic, he unwittingly wanders into the middle of a robbery. And foiling it leads to much more publicity than anyone in the League expects. It may seem like a simple story about the beginnings of a comic, but what makes it all the more memorable are the human moments that Vaughan's writing and Alexander and Rolston's art highlight.


Transitions are powerful tools in this kind of story, and Vaughan takes expert advantage of them, most notably the scene where The Escapist chases Luna Moth across the rooftops and winds up nearly kissing him, which bleeds simultaneously into the world of Maxwell and Case, who also nearly share a lip lock. This line blurring adds another dimension to Maxwell's depth, and the artwork helps fully realize these details in a wonderful juxtaposition of modern and vintage styles. The fact that Vaughan titles the series The Escapists suggests subtly that the focus is not just upon the characters the League creates, but also the creators themselves, each of whom is trying to escape from some particular aspect of reality by donning the mantle of the League in order to become something greater than themselves.


The cover to The Escapists #3 by John Cassaday. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Vaughan also sets up future conflict possibilities with Maxwell witnessing the good luck cheek-peck between Case and Denny, the compounding financial burden and uncertainty of the comic book's future, and the looming threat of corporatization, definitely a story that speaks to the comic writer, artist, penciler, and the little guy attempting to stand up in the face of threats like the Omnigrip International. So, if you're fighting the good fight, or just wishing you were, pick up a copy. Vaughan, Alexander, and Rolston prove a little nostalgia can be golden.

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