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Disappear and Returns
This week on The Comics Alternative podcast, Derek and Andy W. get back into the regular swing of things by discussing three recent titles, one book and two single issues. They begin with something that was published late last year, Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López’s The Eternaut (Fantagraphics). This is a legendary text, and not just within the realm of comics history. The Eternaut is a post-apocalyptic tale of alien invasion, originally serialized in the Argentinian weekly, Hora Cero Semanal, between 1957 and 1959. It was revised and expanded in 1969 and 1975, respectively, and it’s notable for its politically informed subtext. Many have read Oesterheld’s text allegorically in light of Argentina’s history of dictatorship, its Dirty War, and United States imperialism. Indeed, the writer was “disappeared” in 1977, making The Eternaut even more of a poignant read. Although the collected series, originally titled El Eternauta, has been translated in a variety of different languages, it wasn’t until the recent Fantagraphics publication that the book has been available in English. For both Andy and Derek, this is one of the best comics of 2015, and they wanted to start this year by discussing it in depth. Next, the guys turn to a title that had once been thought “disappeared,” Nowhere Men (Image Comics). It’s been over two years since we saw the last issue in the series — completing the first narrative arc — so the publication of issue #7, written by Eric Stephenson with art by Dave Taylor, is of particular interest. The two approach Nowhere Men #7 from different perspectives: Derek went back to reread the first six issues, so as to refresh his memory over the storyline, while Andy came to the issue “cold,” having forgotten much of what went on in the first trade. These different reading experiences drew them to the same assessment: readers would do well to go back and revisit the first arc, as this latest issue doesn’t provide any context or backstory to reorient its audience. Nonetheless, the guys conclude that it’s great to have Nowhere Men back and that it’s a series well worth the effort. They then wrap up with Erick Freitas and Ulises Farinas’s Amazing Forest #1 (IDW Publishing). This is a new anthology where each of the short stories, all written by Freitas and Farinas, features the work of a different illustrator. Julien Dufour (“Tank”), Matt Rota (“Wolf Mother”), Melody Often (“Ronnie the Robot”), and Yumi Sakugawa (“Bird Watcher”) are the artists in this inaugural issue, and with the exception of Sakugawa, who last year published Ikebana through Retrofit/Big Planet, these are creators with whom the guys are unfamiliar. But all of the stories in Amazing Forest are strong, art as well as narrative, and both Derek and Andy are expecting great things from the title. There need to be more collections like this!