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You want proof that we live in a platinum age of comics? Freaking Meltdown Man is available in a single, big edition. If you told me, five years back, that such a thing would exist outside of privately-licensed small press editions, I’d have said you were nuts.
…
Back in the eighties, when 2000 AD’s publisher licensed its reprints out to third parties, Meltdown Man never resurfaced. Belardinelli was not a favorite of Titan Books’ Nick Landau, and while a series that ran this long could have filled four of those skinny, black-spined albums that Titan used to release, neither Titan nor Eagle / Quality Comics wanted to reprint it. Of course, at the time, the perception of 2000 AD that other marketers wanted to emphasize was that the comic was the home of weird, freaky heroes unlike anything else in comics, and Nick Stone himself is a square-jawed, inventive hero of the classic tradition, despite the trappings of his wild world.Actually, wild doesn’t even begin to cover it. As I slowly amassed a piecemeal collection of back issues, Meltdown Man was the one strip, dipping into at random order, that I could not follow at all. That’s because the serial is one of the most entertaining roller coasters in comics, with several parallel-running plotlines and a host of recurring characters who show up after weeks away. The story doesn’t reach any natural breaks, and it isn’t a collection of several short adventures, and it doesn’t fall into any kind of predictable structure like comics of this sort do, where you know that, for example, at some point, the Harlem Heroes will get back into an arena to play another game. I finally read the thing start to finish across my back issues some years ago and was really stunned by how brilliantly constructed it is. A reread of this volume confirms it: this is a terrific, badly underrated comic. It’s the sort of anything-goes, surprising adventure that the more recent The Red Seas feels like, but with a straight run of fifty weeks, Hebden and Belardinelli were able to accomplish so much more than The Red Seas’ creators can, with so many aggravating breaks of so many months in their narrative.
…
And as for the reprint itself, Rebellion have done another splendid job. I think I’d quibble about the cover, which is a recolored take on an old Dave Gibbons pin-up from the period. While I’d agree that there were no better images from the period to sell this book, there’s a stodgy, macho, po-faced feel to that image that totally belies how weird and exciting the story actually is. That said, this is clearly a barely-known property and sales are going to be pretty low, so I can understand why the publishers went with this, rather than bend the budget to buy a new, better representative image from somebody like Boo Cook, who, it’s been observed, has a style clearly influenced by Belardinelli. It really is a shame that this is going to be a low-selling book, because it’s really fun and unpredictable and needs to be seen. I had a blast with it, and certainly recommend it highly.

You want proof that we live in a platinum age of comics? Freaking Meltdown Man is available in a single, big edition. If you told me, five years back, that such a thing would exist outside of privately-licensed small press editions, I’d have said you were nuts.

Back in the eighties, when 2000 AD’s publisher licensed its reprints out to third parties, Meltdown Man never resurfaced. Belardinelli was not a favorite of Titan Books’ Nick Landau, and while a series that ran this long could have filled four of those skinny, black-spined albums that Titan used to release, neither Titan nor Eagle / Quality Comics wanted to reprint it. Of course, at the time, the perception of 2000 AD that other marketers wanted to emphasize was that the comic was the home of weird, freaky heroes unlike anything else in comics, and Nick Stone himself is a square-jawed, inventive hero of the classic tradition, despite the trappings of his wild world.

Actually, wild doesn’t even begin to cover it. As I slowly amassed a piecemeal collection of back issues, Meltdown Man was the one strip, dipping into at random order, that I could not follow at all. That’s because the serial is one of the most entertaining roller coasters in comics, with several parallel-running plotlines and a host of recurring characters who show up after weeks away. The story doesn’t reach any natural breaks, and it isn’t a collection of several short adventures, and it doesn’t fall into any kind of predictable structure like comics of this sort do, where you know that, for example, at some point, the Harlem Heroes will get back into an arena to play another game. I finally read the thing start to finish across my back issues some years ago and was really stunned by how brilliantly constructed it is. A reread of this volume confirms it: this is a terrific, badly underrated comic. It’s the sort of anything-goes, surprising adventure that the more recent The Red Seas feels like, but with a straight run of fifty weeks, Hebden and Belardinelli were able to accomplish so much more than The Red Seas’ creators can, with so many aggravating breaks of so many months in their narrative.

And as for the reprint itself, Rebellion have done another splendid job. I think I’d quibble about the cover, which is a recolored take on an old Dave Gibbons pin-up from the period. While I’d agree that there were no better images from the period to sell this book, there’s a stodgy, macho, po-faced feel to that image that totally belies how weird and exciting the story actually is. That said, this is clearly a barely-known property and sales are going to be pretty low, so I can understand why the publishers went with this, rather than bend the budget to buy a new, better representative image from somebody like Boo Cook, who, it’s been observed, has a style clearly influenced by Belardinelli. It really is a shame that this is going to be a low-selling book, because it’s really fun and unpredictable and needs to be seen. I had a blast with it, and certainly recommend it highly.

  1. 2000adonline posted this
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