More of the same stylish and weird interpretations of Marvel myths by heroes of the underground comix scene (this time around focusing more on the Silver Surfer, and hardly at all on MODOK or the Hulk as they had in the first installment), albeit a bit less fun than the first Strange Tales. Naturally, to keep consistency (and to retain one of the best parts of Strange Tales), Chris Sanderson carries on with the weird tales of The Watcher, one-pagers interspersed throughout the book (Uatu and his little buddy go to a strip bar, they hang out in the park with dogs, Uatu gets a lobotomy...). Nice. There's a "deep" and gory tale about Logan and his relationship with pain, and his relationship with women - no small crossover here (and we also get a similar, but less good, tale of Logan heartbreak in the hot dog tale that comes up later on in the book). Gene Luen Yang takes on the Fabulous Frog-man's son and his goofy antics (probably Marvel's lamest "super-villain"). Frank Santoro does a strangely childish cosmic Silver Surfer tale, another tale shows Kraven the Hunter hunting for a date to the prom (funny, playful, naive), then there's a weird colorful tale of the Dazzler getting in touch with her inner rock goddess. Shannon Wheeler does a very cool retro Red Skull in an Amazonian village (he's gone eco-warrior), Kevin Huizenga draws nutty simple Logan vs Silver Surfer panels, , and Jeff Lemire draws one of those "Marvel tie-in with our human history" by showing old Mounties in the forest taking on what might be a Wendigo, but which is actually... Swamp Thing? Episodes like this are good because they're well-drawn, they're semi-serious, but ultimately they do no more than gratuitously wallow in Marvel lore, I love it.
"Meanwhile... in the park!!" by Johnen V is really very silly - a heartbroken Wolverine gorging on hot dogs, an encounter with the Sentinels, silly... Nicholas Gurewitch does a funny two-pager about Magento offering his services to Galactus (nice art - stupid gag). This is followed by the best stories in the whole book, two Love And Rockets-style tales by Gilbert Hernandez, with his patented Archie-like take on adult themes: this time we get Iron Man teaming up with Toro, the sidekick of the original Human Torch (remember the Invaders?) taking on the Leader, followed by a weird little tale of the Space Phantom trying unsuccessfully to crash the girls' beach party. Great girl politics, and a nice revival of one of the weirder Marvel characters form 50 years ago (he originally appeared in Avengers #2. Nice X-Men adventure by Jeffrey Brown showing the X-Men taking on the Sentinels, even as Scott and Jean have relationship problems. Weird. Mr Sheldon, whoever he is, does a very cool Ghost Rider-with-friendly-muttonchops that is pure Lemmy. "I'm the rebel son of Satan, Hell nor Heaven ain't my friend". Nice Spiderman adventure with Paul Maybury, "Little Lies", where Peter demonstrates one of the lesser-told aspects of Spider-man's life - how he explains away all of the cuts and bruises he gets fighting Vermin, Sandman, Doc Ock, etc. Beautifully-drawn, a real treat. The ever-weird Tony Millionaire takes on Thor, explaining how he lost his hammer, lost his powers, and had to resort to selling Thor Brand Pickled Herring at the crumbling Coney Island amusement park to wandering Danes. Of course, he can easily get it back by taking on Mud-O and Can Man. Nice. A weird "Wolverine and Power Pack" adventure by Maya and Sam that results in Logan going to Japan to learn to control his animal nature. Then Farel Darymple tells the "You Won't Feel A Thing" tale which is, as he describes it, "a ridiculous retelling of the firs encounter between the stoic Silver Surfer and one very stressed-out Spidey." Between the panel we see the message "I copied this entire page from John Buscema and `How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way'. I apologize if anyone finds it offensive. There is no disrespect intended. Please don't be mad." Beautiful drawings, boring story. Modok is back finally in "Crisis - In The Lair Of Modok" by Jon Vermilyer, that shows a crazy Ant Man flying up Modok's nose. It's pretty gnarly... Terry Moore tells a silly story of a young Thor and "How Mjolnir Got Its Strap." Ho hum. James Stokoe tells a cool (and well-drawen story) about a bunch of Skrulls playing poker with the Silver Surfer as their planet gets devoured by Galactus. Cool art!! A story by Benjamin Marra that involves US Agent being hired to do a hit is sheer insanity.
Government agent: It's a terrorist who's been genetically spliced with the DNA of a velociraptor!! And if that weren't enough, he has a nuclear warhead strapped to his back!! We call him the Terror-saur!!
US Agent: Sounds like a real nerd.
US Agent is some sort of Captain America mercenary who's a heartless killer. Nice. Tim Hamilton does a cool Machine Man story, as he takes on a Michael Morbius (The Living Vampire) who's allied himself with Baphomet. Great story, great art. Kate Beaton tells another funny, "cute" story about Rogue absorbing the powers of a kitten when she smashes Professor X's favorite vase (why would Professor X have a favorite vase anyway?). "Oh Rogue! How can I stay mad at youuu...?" The Left Hand of Boom" is a cool story by Dean Haspiel (great art!) of Woodgod, the Sentinels, Alicia Masters and the Thing. And a game of stickball. T Cypress shows what happens when some comic book fans call Luke Cage's Heroes-For-Hire hotline (1-555-HERO). Cool! Badass!! Michael Deforge shows young mutants getting in trouble, also quite grisly. "Fantastic... Before" is a well-drawn story about a young Reed Richards, pre-Sue Richards, chasing girls with his buddy Ben Grimm. Eduardo Medeiros tells a funny tale of Spidey, with the Juggernaut calling up to Aunt May to find out if Spiderman can come out to play. Harvey Pekar gets the last story, "Harvey Pekar Meets The Thing", a well-drawn and textured tale of New York, showing the Thing catching up to Harvey, having a conversation on the side of the street about employment, job security, Jewish neighborhoods (who knew that The Thing's Jewish?!?!) and other mundane matters. Very nice indeed.
I wonder what it would take to get Michael Allred onto one of these crazy adventures!
This book, while it's pretty good, is not as good as the first Strange Tales; check that one out first.