Amazing High Adventure (#3, #5) – Mike Baron, Various

3 out of 5

Not really my cuppa, and from the letters page in issue #3 (and the relatively short run – I think the series ended after the fifth issue), maybe not a lot of readers cuppas, either.

Amazing High Adventure got some extra page space for its anthology format, 4 10ish-page tales per book, with an historical focus.  That focus had sort of a wide berth though: you could go slightly fantastical, such as Mark Wheatley / Marc Hempel’s ghostly recollection of American Revolutionary figure George Rogers Clark, or Bill Mantlo’s / Steve Purcell’s Indian warrior’s drug-fueled, god-filled, maybe-racist dreams of a figurehead during the British-ruled Indian era.  You could focus on seemingly any era: Steve Englehart and Mike Mignola go with Napoleon; Mike Baron and Tomosina Cawthorn Artis go with the Bible.  And you could certainly fictionalize, with several tales taking seeds of overheard stories and fleshing them out, while others are just illustrating th’ facts.  Regardless of these variations, the subject matter still isn’t necessarily my bag, but I don’t know that these guys – however talented they were, and you can see the big names mentioned – did themselves much favors with presentation.  Baron, my bias aside, makes out the best here: he has two stories in each issue I read, and most have a sense of character first, which helps drive them.  Elsewhere, we get history dumps propped up by art, and all of the blabber is either very, very dry, or very, very derivative, or, as mentioned with Mantlo, vaguely redolent of cultural ignorance.

The presentation is nice, with painted covers, and warm color printing.  The over-sized format and caliber of the contributors makes it clear that editor Carl Potts was going for a more prestigious style, but the book feels out of time even by the 80s; it’s a series trying to mimic historical comics of yore when there maybe wasn’t a call for it.  As a Baron fan, his four entries are worth it, but as a casual read, the book – at least these two issues – don’t offer much beyond those entries.