"Alex + Ada" Concludes, Marvel's Mighty Coloring Books Arrive





Three years before the Casey/Holguin/McGuinness series hit (that I recently reviewed in two parts), the short-lived anthology, "WildStorm Presents" debuted. That first issue featured a single issue story by Alan Moore featuring Mister Majestic at the end of the universe. From a writer who got early work writing short science fiction twist stories in Great Britain, the topic and structure of this story makes perfect sense. Majestic and nine other life forms are left together at the end of the universe. Together, they'll see the end.

It's like "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" minus the gags.

Again, it's a Mister Majestic story populated with big ideas, both profound and funny. One life form is the syphillis living in another character. The remaining human in the universe is Manny Weiss, The Wandering Jew. A random assortment of bizarre aliens fill the ranks out.

One by one, they meet their final fates, until Majestic is alone with Eucrastia, who teaches him a little about what life might actually be about, just before some golden tentacles attack and Majestic finds himself, at the end, in a fight for his life, just as he led his life.

Then there's a twist. I won't spoil it, but I think it's pretty good. It works from the perspective of Wildcast/WildStorm mythology as well as, well, Biblical history. Odd combination, right? Only Moore could pull off something like that.

The story is a strong one. While there's a certain melancholy to it, given the inevitable end of the world that approaches, it's nice to see a group of characters who are accepting that fate and resigned to find the best ending for themselves that they can. Ultimately, each chooses their own fate, and it makes sense from the short time we've spent with them. The science through the story makes sense; I don't know how truthful it is, but Moore presents it in such a way that you can nod and keep reading.

Moore's narrative is florid, with well-constructed captions that feel almost lyrical. It doesn't feel wordy at all, despite the number of words per page. So much of the importance of the story comes across in the way Moore uses language. It's hard to explain without reading a large dose of it, but this issue teems with life thanks to Moore's measured and descriptive prose/dialogue/captions.

The art is by then-newcomer Carlos D'Anda, with inks from Richard Friend. D'Anda does a good job drawing a science-fiction tale, rather than the superhero comics he likely signed up for when he joined WildStorm. Majestic looks gray and slightly haggard, but still muscular and powerful. The other characters are appropriately alien, with a good amount of detail and fine line work spread across the pages. This is accomplished artwork, from someone who knows how to draw ships and backgrounds and aliens and a good story. Some of the panels are laid out perfectly, in a very specific way that looks deliberate and not just beginner's luck.

Some of that fine line work has to be credited to Richard Friend. Friend also inked Travis Charest at WildStorm, and there are lots of little flourishes in this issue that remind me of Charest on Wildcats. Those tight thin lines are mostly Friend's, I'd guess.

Mike Heisler hand lettered the comics on the art boards. I've read too many modern comics lately; It's good to go back to a time (not even 20 years ago) when lettering was an imperfect and fully human art form. He has some large chunks of text to write out in the story, but he does a great job. The balloons are places as perfectly as they could be, the letters look consistent, and his lettering style is direct and consistent.

On the negative side, there's probably one too many splash pages in the issue, and the exposition and prose stand out just a bit too much from being grouped together into those larger panels. I didn't notice that until I went through the book a second time for this column, so maybe it's nothing to worry about.

Alan Moore did a lot of work at Image in the late 90s. Some of it is forgotten and some of it should be forgotten, and some of it is worthy of the best work he's done in the last twenty years in comics. This is one of those hidden gems: irreverent, humorous, dark, sad, and with a very high concept. It just works.

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