Shadowmen II

 SMV2   (Black Coat Press, 2004)

™ and © Black Coat Press

This more than worthy follow–up to the authors’ first Shadowmen focuses on fantastic characters and elements in French comics and makes addicting reading for comic–book fans.

Rather than a straight–ahead history of the subject, the chapters spotlight individual characters, so readers can begin anywhere they’d like. The first stop will undoubtedly be the attempts to create genuinely Gallic super–heroes. Some of those—like Hourman imitator Fantax and a Super Boy who owes more to Adam Strange than his almost namesake—will seem familiar. Or look at early boys’ adventure strips that dared to incorporate such “dangerous” elements as world–conquering villains and trips to other planets. There’s also a chapter on the unusually ’60s psychedelic SF of Barbarella and Lone Sloane, which helped establish the idea that comics in France could be for adults.

There’s such original French imagination and energy in evidence in these strips that it’s disheartening reading portions devoted to such mediocre imitators as Photonik, who appeared in the recent Image mini–series Strangers.

— S.A. Bennett

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