Can the old school aesthetic of ‘MCMLXXV’ work long term or does it just impress for one issue?
The first issue of MCMLXXV from Image Comics was a throwback to a bygone era of comic books. Along with being set in the year 1975, the story sounds like something that was written during that time. Centered on a down-to-earth protagonist battling creatures from other worlds, the book also looks like a comic from decades ago. The debut issue seemed to set the tone and atmosphere for an engaging story. Can the old school aesthetic work long term or does it just impress for one issue?
Once again, the art of Ian MacEwan is this book’s standout feature. The issue is a series of frantic and violent battles that MacEwan captures perfectly. MCMLXXV continues the cinematic look and feel from its premiere. Panels flow from one to the next, helping readers to easily feel the whirlwind action that is taking place. MacEwan does a great job capturing the frenetic pace.
The expressive characters also add to the comic’s action. Pamela Evans is filled with anger and determination as she battles the never ending onslaught of monsters. She also has a heroic look that fits her character and, perhaps more importantly, she looks like an absolute badass. Creature design continues to impress — the second issue depicts some of the baddies having a more detailed look than the first one.
Prefect Patterson essentially serves as a commentator for some of the battles and it’s a nice touch. While the battle scenes looks great, twenty straight pages of nothing more than punches and blood may be a little much, but adding something as simple as two panels of Prefect calling the action is a unique technique that breaks possible monotony without downplaying the significance of what is happening.
Brad Simpson’s colors enhance the art of MacEwan. Once again, Simpson goes with a muted style that evokes the comics of the story’s setting. The use of red and blinding white light of Pamela’s magical tire iron are absolutely stunning. Simpson also uses oranges to maximize the impact of the story’s action. The look of MCMLXXV will certainly stand out.
Unfortunately, Joe Casey’s story is not as eye catching as the art. Issue two of MCMLXXV has only two things. Along with the nonstop action in the issue, there is also something of a backstory given to Pamela. The first issue was original and made its protagonist very relatable. Pamela was just a cab driver who also happened to be a badass. Her weapon in her fight against evil is an enchanted tire iron. The issue may have looked like something from the 1970s, but its story was promising to be one of a kind.
This potential is what makes the backstory given for Pamela such a letdown. Pamela is essentially given a “chosen one” origin and it follows all the tropes. She stumbles into another realm where higher powers of unknown intentions sense a great power in her. She is put through a series of tests (an endless series of battles, basically) until she is deemed worthy. It’s by no means bad, but it is certainly disappointing considering the promise of the first issue.
That being said, Casey makes the wise decision to show Pamela’s vulnerability. By the end of the first issue, it seemed like nothing would be able to stop her. There’s nothing wrong with having an unbeatable hero initially, but this premise wears thin since the conclusion is foregone. Letting it be known that Pamela can be defeated was a smart idea.
MCMLXXV #2continues the old school look and high-paced action of its debut. The story makes a serious misstep by going with a more generic origin for Pamela instead of continuing to focus on the unique decisions of the debut, however. MCMLXXV is a fine series that looks great but also lacks consistency after its first two issues.