[Review] Image Comics’ 20TH CENTURY MEN Vol. 1 TPB
PopCultHQ received a review copy of 20TH CENTURY MEN Vol. 1 TPB from Image Comics. Available Wednesday, May 24th, the creative team for this collection features writer Deniz Camp, artist S. Morian, and letterer Aditya Bidikar.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of…
20TH CENTURY MEN Vol. 1 TPB
Written by Deniz Camp
Art by S. Morian
Letters by Aditya Bidikar
Cover Art by S. Morian
Release Date: May 24th, 2023
Collects 20TH CENTURY MEN #1-6
At the end of the 20th Century, superheroes, geniuses, madmen and activists rush towards WWIII! A Soviet “iron” hero; a super-powered American President; an insane cyborg soldier; an Afghan woman hellbent on building a better life for her people—these strange yet familiar beings collide in a story that mixes history, politics, and comic book mythology into something totally new. Welcome to 20th CENTURY MEN, where the edges of our reality and fiction touch, overlap…and then explode.
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
20TH CENTURY MEN Vol. 1 TPB
The year is 1987. Our setting is a familiar one. America and the Soviet Union are entering what will ultimately be the endgame moves of the Cold War. And yet there are wildcards in this world. A Soviet super-agent in a suit of armor. An American President who has powers and once fought for democracy and freedom during WWII. All of these are familiar players, yet very different in the pages of 20th Century Men. Fans of comics will get a kick out of the script and artwork. They are both utterly fantastic and hook you in right from the start.
Writing: Deniz Camp is a big name in comics. And while I was not familiar with his work before picking up 20th Century Men, now I can see why fans dig him. He writes with a style that speaks to his passion as a comics writer, but also layers in a hefty level of character development and dialogue that speaks to the more profound message he is trying to convey. That message is this: how do we reconcile ourselves in a world hell-bent on tearing itself apart? Everyone in this story has their own answer on how to deal with things: peace through war, peace through force, and peace through new ideas and forms of government. Yet in Camp’s 1987, none of them can work. They can only fail or take on new and terrifying forms. And that is why people will love Deniz Camp’s writing.
Art: Stipan Morian is a newcomer to the comics scene and makes quite a splash with his artwork in this series. It is gorgeous, it is vivid, and by gosh, is it full of ultra-violence. Even though this is Stipan’s own stuff, the fanboy in me sees a hint of Frank Miller within, the Frank Miller of Sin City and 300. Morian has an eye for detail and excellent linework that plays well with the script from Deniz. Readers will take note of the grittiness and determination that are significant components of every character’s facial expressions. Whether it is the President, the Soviet hero, or the determined heroine from Afghanistan who wishes for better things for her people. Stipan captures all of this and more.
Letters: For those who are fans of lettering, Aditya Bidikar is a recognizable name. He has lettered for various books from DC, Dark Horse, and other publishers. What he brings to the table is a gift for making words pop. At the book’s opening, there are panels where the F word is repeated in time to the thrum of helicopter blades as if identical. As with the artwork, the little details like that will keep your attention hooked. Suppose you need another example of what Bidikar can do. In that case, whenever Ali has an internal dialogue with herself, it is done in a magnificent cursive script, like pages from a journal. Combined with the rest of the beautiful lettering throughout this book, people will never want to put it down.
“We have met the enemy and they are ours.”
– Oliver Hazard Perry, 1812.
Never before has that single line rang more true than when I picked up the TPB of 20th Century Men. Not only does it incorporate characters who are tasteful homages to some of the comics’ most iconic characters, but it is also filled to the brim with artwork that will keep readers glued to the pages. You add in the script that is equal parts superhero adventure and a treatise on the Cold War smattered with mythology and philosophy, and you have a graphic novel that is worth having in your private collection and even being taught in the classrooms of major universities. A grand triumph by the creative team, one that will last forever.
5 out of 5 Stars
Publisher – Image Comics
Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of bestselling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has six individuals on the Board of Directors: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, Jim Valentino, and Eric Stephenson. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline Comics, Skybound Entertainment, and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit www.imagecomics.com.