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Michael Chabon Presents...The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist: v. 1 Paperback – 11 May 2004


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I STILL REMEMBER THE FIRST ESCAPIST COMIC I EVER CAME ACROSS. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 12 reviews
37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
An Amusing "Comic" Romp 13 Jun 2004
By Leonard Fleisig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I haven't read a comic book in close to 35 years. I picked Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adentures of the Escapist on a whim because I had read and enjoyed Chabon's novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Chabon's novel detailed the story of two young men (Kavalier, a refugee who fled from Nazi-occupied Prague after an amazing escape and Klay, his New York cousin)who have a long stormy career after creating a sensational comic book hero - The Escapist. The Escapist, as his name suggests, has the extradorinary Houdini-like ability to escape even the toughest bonds and fights the forces of evil, specifically the Iron League whose ultimate goal is to enslave the world.
The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist is the comic book spin off of the novel. Chabon, together with a team of well known graphic artists (including Kyle Baker, Gene Colan, and Jae Lee) and writers (including Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the Devil)has created a series of comics that trace the history of The Escapist. The comics begin with the 'premiere' episode in the late 1930s and move chronologically through the late 1970s. As with real comics, some stories are better than others. I particularly enjoyed the opening story, The Passing of the Key, which serves as the premiere epdisode that explains the origin of the Escapist. Prison Break, and Divine Wind (a Japanese version of the Escapist authorized by Kavalier & Clay) were also particularly good. Although I liked Are You Now or Have You Ever Been (Chabon's comic book look at the McCarthy era) I am not at all certain that any comic published in the 1950s would advance the views contained in it but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
Each section is introduced by brief overviews written by Chabon and his collaborators. The overviews put the comics in their proper 'historic' context. They are amusing and well written.
I very much liked the Amazing Adventures of the Escapist. As noted, I have not read a comic in quite some time so I claim no particular expertise in this idiom. The era of the modern comic has passed me by. Perhaps now I might look into it further. However, this lay reader enjoyed both the story lines and the art work. Reading these stories took me back to my younger days reading Batman, Superman, Sgt. Fury (and yes - even Mad Magazine). In short, this is a fun read. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Chabon and the creators played this work out with a straight face even if one can see that they all clearly had fun working on this project. The cover art on the back page which harks back to comic book advertisements of days gone by is a case in point.
I think the fact that I had read Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay enhanced my enjoyment of this work and I would suggest this may be so for any reader for whom reading comics may be more an exercise in nostalgia than a current avocation. However, the book does stand up on its own, particularly because each story is advanced by explanatory overviews.
Again, this book was a lot of fun. I entered it with some trepidation at the thought that I was reading a comic - but as I got into it those feelings were replaced by the enjoyment of sitting down for some excellent 'escapist' reading.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Get This Now. 8 July 2004
By "zhalbrecht2" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent choice for post-reading when you have finished Kavalier and Clay. The art is outstanding, and to see the Escapist in so many different forms brought me nothing but joy. The writing/stories range from campy to fantastic, never giving you too much of one incarnation of the Escapist to induce boredom. The mythos of the Escapist throughout the years has been dutifully captured with some surprising tales featuring an aged Tom Mayflower and several (some of my favorites) of Luna Moth. The two bad things are this: 1) that is that there is not more in this volume. and 2) I don't think readers will fully appreciate this without reading Kavalier and Clay first. But if you have, go get this now. I read thorugh it way too fast the first time, but this book will have me re-reading it for years.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Cool Concept, but that's it (almost) 1 Oct 2009
By R. R. Henderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're like me, and loved Cavalier and Clay, you probably hit "buy" before you even got beyond the title of this book. And if you're as die-hard a fan as I am, probably nothing I can say here will dissuade you. I mean, come on, The Escapist? The hero from C & C's comics? The "real" Escapist, in "real" comic form? What could be cooler?
Well, for the first story in this collection, it is that cool. The first escapist comic, described detail by detail in the book, is here painted with modern graphic-novel style art- not at all like an early comic book, but who cares, right?
But as the story continues, you start to notice something. At first you avoid it, but it creeps up on you... it's not as great as you imagined it.
As the book goes on, this becomes clearer. The stories simply don't stand on their own. There is so much meta and just not enough good fiction. The art is great, but the plots are sloppy and poorly conceived. Only one or two stories are good enough to stand on their own, and too much time is spent playing with concepts surrounding the fictional "Escapist" timeline introduced at the beginning of the book. It's simply no fun to read.
The last story almost redeems the whole collection, though. The Escapist here movies beyond all the corny attempted recreations of authentic originals and into the genre of graphic novel, where it could stand on it's own. If the whole collection was like this, I'd recommend it for sure.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
too self-conscious at times, but good fun 9 Aug 2004
By Emily Held - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Here we have the comics allegedly written by Michael Chabon's pulitzer prize winning characters from Kavalier and Clay. This collects issues one and two of the Dark Horse title in a pricey, postmodern ironic package. I bought issue 1 when it first came out, and I liked the way this collection shuffled the stories in with those of issue 2. It's comics poking fun at comics, and fun at that, but some of the scholarly articles push the humour a bit far, as in the repeated assertion that Chabon's characters' innovative ideas predated all of the other comics in the field.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Live the story through the comics 6 Jan 2005
By Taylor Stevens - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
After reading Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," I was disheartened to realize that comic described in the book might never be actualized, and that the descriptions and accounts of the comics in general were fantasized. However, when I learned that Dark Horse Comics was planning on releasing "The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, Volume 1" I jumped at the opportunity to 'live' like the kids in the novel. Darkhorse has combined the first two of "The Escapist" quarterly comics in paper-back form, along with a good deal of comic book historical fiction similar to that found in Chabon's "Kavalier and Clay." The drawings are fantastic, showing different artists renditions of the Escapist and Luna Moth, and the story lines are great too. A wonderful addition to the world of Kavalier and Clay, and a great read for the train or for some downtime.
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