When it comes to my favourite comic book artists, I’ve got two. The first is Alex Ross, and the second is the one who I’m celebrating in this week’s column – Michael Allred.
I’m no art critic but I know what I like, and while Ross and Allred’s works are completely distinct from one another, what I find appealing about both of them is not just their individual styles, but their shared love of the pop culture subject matter both of them often put their skills towards.
Take, for instance, The Monkees. I LOVE the Monkees. In fact, they may very well be a top ten band for me. Last year, I bought a gorgeous Alex Ross print during SDCC that he’d done of the band. It’s now hanging in my front hall.
I love Ross’s picture perfect take on the Pre-Fab Four. But he’s not the only comic artist who clearly loves Mike, Micky, Davey and Peter, since Michael Allred had the distinction of crafting the gorgeous cover art for the band’s 2018 Christmas album! I keep waiting for Rhino to release a print of this piece of awesomeness.
Man, I love that album cover. The Monkees aren’t the only legends Allred has lent his distinctive tough too; you can read my review on his gorgeous Bowie biography, BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns &Moonage Daydreams, which is a must purchase for fans of the Thin White Duke.
There’s clearly a connection between Ross and Allred thanks to their love of pop culture, and I’m sure at some point I’ll write more about Alex Ross, but it just so happens this past week saw the release of two distinct Michael Allred books that I wanted to highlight.
First up is The X-Cellent #1, a new mini-series from Allred and writer Peter Milligan, the masterminds behind the beloved, classic X-Statix series, which branched off from the duos work on X-Force. This first issue finds a new team, The X-Cellent making headlines for their hardcore heroics, being led by the former X-Statix member and long thought dead Zeitgeist. As we see throughout the book, this team is brutal and not necessarily what we’d consider a group of good guys. The reunited X-Statix team are looking to tame the X-Cellent, but their battles come with consequences.
It’s as though time has stood still in the best way possible with this book; both Milligan and Allred are completely delivering a great, fun, and violent story that fits right in with their previous work. It certainly helps to be familiar with the previous X-Statix stories, but I don’t think it’s an absolute must. Milligan gets us up to speed quickly on what’s happened in the past, so there aren’t too many questions for the novice as they read. Allred’s art, meanwhile, is absolutely on par with his best (and kudos have to go out to his creative partner, wife Laura Allred, who is a master colourist and the perfect person to bring out his work). The X-Cellent #1 is kinetic and unique, and well worth a read for old fans and ones looking to get their first taste of the ‘ole Milligan/Allred magic.
Now, normally, since this column is called From The House of Ideas, it would be strictly Marvel titles featured, but I think our friends there won’t mind if I highlight another Michael Allred release. This comes in the form of the Madman Library Edition Volume 2 from Dark Horse Comics. Our Uncle Highlander wrote about the first entry a few months ago, and now the second book has been released. It’s sitting right next to me and, as you’d expect, is absolutely gorgeous.
As per the dust jacket, “Volume Two collects many of Mike Allred’s popular Madman Comics stories including numerous Madman spinoffs and crossovers featuring the Superman/Madman crossover and the Powers/Madman one-shot written By Brian Michael Bendis and drawn By Michel Avon Oeming.”
As someone who reads most of my comics digitally, I can’t stress enough how amazing the Dark Horse Library Editions are. In my humble opinion, they are the best way to experience Allred’s work – they’re beautfully put together, and there’s something just right reading the exploits of Madman in a physical way. I have lots of Allred’s work digitally, to be sure, including his FF and X-Statix books, and on the right tablet, they absolutely pop, but Dark Horse Comics puts so much love into these hardcover books, they’re just the way to go to experience Allred (though it must be said, I did buy Volume 1 of the Madman Library Edition digitally as well, just so I can take it wherever I go).
There’s lots of Michael Allred to choose from this week, and whether its with The X-Cellent or Madman Library Edition Volume 2, whatever you choose will be all…right.