The 77 is the latest series to try and rekindle that 70s spirit of comic anthologies like Action or Warrior. Evolving out of a 2000 AD Facebook group, editor Ben S Ky has assembled a really eclectic and interesting group of stories for this debut – many of which have a decidedly vintage feel to them.
Publisher: The 77 Publishing
Price: £6.95 from GetMyComics
It’s an interesting angle for an anthology and one that goes nicely with the overall tone of the book – and is exemplified by its brilliant throwback cover design. Ky and his team have thrown everything at this first issue, weighing in at a bumper 68 pages, it is an ambitious first issue that is packed full of an interesting mix of styles and stories.
Opener Temporal Anarchy is a fantastic example of The 77’s retro charm, as it mixes punk rock attitude, time travel and 80s Liam Sharp style airbrushed artwork to brilliant effect. It gets the book off to a great start and is followed with other stand outs such as Mal Earl’s The Prodigal (a slice of gory fantasy), Joe Assi, John Charles and Tom Newell’s Technofreak (a quirky heist comedy) and Steve Bull and Ade Hughes V (the main cover star which is a brutal slice of gladiator sci fi).
While all of these have the kind of vintage charm that would make them feel at home in the pages of Action or The Prog, its is perhaps Michael Powell and Phil Elliot’s The Last Man which was our favourite and has much more of contemporary small press feel to it. The story of a benevolent alien race and mankind’s reaction to them has the kind of slick artwork of an Avery Hill book and feels like something very different, and like a concept which could easily be expanded into something more.
As with a lot of small press anthologies, not everything works as well as others, and there are as many hits as misses in the first issue. However, which ones those are will ultimately be down to personal taste. There is definitely enough of a broad range of stories that it should appeal to most comics fans, especially fans of those vintage anthologies.
As with all anthologies it will be interesting to see which strips continue to develop and ultimately stand out from the crowd, but on the basis of this first issue it feels like there is plenty of potential. With more issues in the pipeline, and plans to include Ian Gibson’s ‘lost masterpiece’ The Lifeboat in future issues, The 77 is an anthology which is aiming for the stars and this first issue is a great launch pad for that journey.