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TALES TO ADMONISH
"A fun roster of stories ranging from the classic to the absurd accompanied by great artwork all round."
n a nutshell, Tales to Admonish is writer Andrez Bergen and artist Matt Kyme’s tribute to/sendup of the Silver Age of comics. Really, though, it’s much more than that. It’s an anthology of stories of all types, from sci-fi and fantasy to superhero adventures, to action thrillers, and, of course, a healthy dose of noir. What it is most of all, though, is a lot of fun.
Volume 1 collects the first three issues of Tales to Admonish. A lot of it consists of short stories written by Bergen previously (many of which are contained in his book,The Condimental Op), adapted into comic form with art by Kyme.
Some of the comics are standalone, while others reference the characters and events in Bergen’s previous works, such as Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat and Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? My personal favorites, though, are the Roy and Suzie comics. An odd couple detective duo, hard-boiled detective Roy and his perky assistant Suzie (who’s actually his perky boss) come up against vampires, zombies, and aliens, none of which can interrupt their constant arguing. This volume features three (well, three and a half) Roy and Suzie stories, all of which are very entertaining.
In addition to Roy and Suzie, some of the other notable stories include “Hell’s Angel,” about a WWI flying ace who accidentally shoots down the goddess Britannia, and “Salvation Nation,” which is an interesting and humorous take on post-apocalyptic stories.
After the first three issues, there are a few extra stories thrown in for good measure, written by Bergen but illustrated by other artists. While I’d read all the issues of Tales to Admonish previously, these extra stories were mostly new to me. My favorite? Probably “Witch’s Brew,” with art by Gareth Colliton. It features magic, vampires, time travel, and Countess Elizabeth Bathory. So, basically, the volume is worth buying for that comic alone.
There’s a lot to like in Tales to Admonish Vol. 1 and stories and adventures for just about every taste. The keen observer who’s familiar with Bergen and Kyme’s other works will also spot a number of in jokes and subtle references scattered throughout. Sometimes funny, sometimes exciting, it’s always a lot of fun. I sincerely hope that there will be more Tales to Admonish issues in the future, but until then, this collected volume will do quite nicely.
I have been looking for a book like this for a while, one which features a mashup of comic book lore, The Twilight Zone, and Tales of the Unexpected. Stories rooted in this genre are notoriously difficult to balance, often having to lead the reader down one path whilst, subtly cultivating a convincing and plausible twist along another.
I have seen many others attempt this task to varying degrees of success, but Tales to Admonish is the first to get it so right. Some of the stories contained in this anthology were truly surprising; others gave me genuine chills, which is not an easy feat given my propensity to over-analyse everything I read or watch (makes viewing films with me an absolute joy!).
One obvious drawback of mystery/plot twist type tales is the difficulty it creates when attempting to review plot aspects without spoiling the book. What I can say is that the stories contained within offer enough variety to cater for a broad spectrum of readers, and the appearance of two characters in multiple stories creates the idea of an overarching universe where events take place, which really helps sell the anthology as a whole.
The only downside to the book for me was the wildly varying art styles. But rather than the particular styles, it was more about the disconnection I experienced between stories, with some visuals tending to cause more of a distraction, as opposed to enhancing the reading experience.
On the whole, if you are looking for something mysteriously quirky, offbeat, but thoroughly entertaining, I would certainly recommend picking this up.