(For the rest of the story, check out previous entries in the series. Also, an electronic copy was provided for purposes of review.)
Thanks to my co-hosting duties on Zone 4, I've been able to meet a variety of cool people doing great things. I mean, I don't think there's been anyone else who's ever asked Mike Baron if he uses martial arts on "lippy fans".
I've been fortunate enough to get to know Mike Luoma of Glow in the Dark Radio, having worked with him twice on Zone 4. At our last episode together, he mentioned the anthology Earthbound Presents # 1, and I told him that if he were so willing, that I would accept an electronic copy, read it, and review.
In short, there are some really good stories in this book - three out of the four are pretty top-notch. Only one doesn't quite hit....but it's also a preview of an upcoming regular series.
The first story in the anthology, The Core (by Max Fauser and Ethan Slayton) is a pretty good slice of space opera that integrates some material that....well, handled differently it would have seemed cliche, but it's the kind of obvious fit that works. Part of the joy is that I didn't see it coming (only when I reread did I get some of the more obscure references), but it sets the book off to a good start.
My personal favorite story in the book is Shots Fired: Shake & Bake (by Buck Weiss and Ruthi Garcia), a rural-based crime drama involving kidnapping and meth. No, no, I'm not being facetious - it's actually rather straightforward, but there's something about the art that gives it a slightly more "authentic" look. (And I've worked in rural Missouri, so I should know better). Their letterer even has a cute name - "Nikki Foxrobot."
Now, here's where I get to fawn over Mike Luoma himself, who wrote Alibi Jones: In Over His Head, a really short science fiction piece about diplomatic relations gone wrong, to put it lightly. It's a pretty good, extremely short story which is very funny (for all the right - and wrong - reasons), and Juan Carlos Quattordio's artwork has just the right mix - not too cartoony, but not super realistic. (And the last panel joke - killer). Definitely one of the highlights.
The only story that did not work for me was Ethan Slayton and Ben Ferrari's Villains short - it seemed an almost stereotypical superhero-goes-too-far piece, but in all honesty, since it was a lead-in to an upcoming series....I can give it the benefit of the doubt. It's not my favorite, but it's also not that bad, either.
Earthbound Presents # 1 is a pretty cool anthology with some good stories, and is a great change of pace from regular comics reading. (Thanks, Mike!) Either bug your local comic shop to acquire a copy, or head to Earthbound Comics.com and ask them how to acquire this book, as well as any other fine reading materials.
(And by the way, I'll be writing about Dirk Manning's Nightmare World soon - want to wait until the next Zone 4 episode's up and online. Thanks for reading!)