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Tim O’Neil On Marvel’s Strange Tales
posted December 17, 2010

I think the important thing to take away from these books is not that they have some good work in them -- they do, although nothing as mind-bending as the Kramer's Ergot/Simpsons jam thing -- but that it's really not that unusual to imagine seeing, say, a Harvey Pekar/Thing story in the year 2010. What's really awesome is that Pekar gets co-billing with the Thing and you almost think it could just be a normal issue of Marvel Two-In-One. (Although, for obvious reasons, I think a Pekar/Howard the Duck story would simply have been the sine qua non of American comics.)

But it's worth it to check out the second issue of the second series, it's actually one of the strongest single issues I've ever read of any of these oddball anthologies. The reason why is that both Jaime and Gilbert do longish stories. Their approach is refreshing: they seriously love the '60s books they are homaging and play it perfectly straight. Both the Los Bros stories could actually fit into regular continuity with no problems -- Gilbert actually follows up on an early plot thread from the '60s with Toro still trying to track down the OG Human Torch's body and enlisting Iron Man's help to fight the Leader. There's something very nice and cozy about seeing the obvious respect they have for those original stories, that they aren't just using them like silly putty to bend into weird shapes for the fuck of it. (Not that that can't be rewarding, too, and obviously since this is a Marvel branded book none of the creators get away with too much in the way of sacrilege -- although someone in that same issue does get in a pretty nasty bit about USAgent, but I guess since no one likes him that's OK.)