Tales to Admonish is the latest creative endeavor from Australian author Andrez Bergen, who recently brought us Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? With words by Bergen and art by Matt Kyme, the comic hearkens back to the Silver Age style, with a vibe that’s part tribute, part tongue-in-cheek. Even the title is a spoof of Marvel’s ’60s comic series Tales to Astonish, and the ’60s vibe is present throughout, in the artistic style and in other, more subtle ways.
The three stories told in this first issue are all adapted from stories in Bergen’s anthology, The Condimental Op. First up is “Sugar/Spice/Dice” (formerly “Sugar & Spice” in the anthology) about a couple of kids who try to steal a valuable comic from a shop, only to have it go horribly wrong. While a good story, it was one of the less memorable ones in The Condimental Op, but I think it works a lot better as a comic. The visual element helps to set the scene better and makes the story more engaging. In addition, look for some fun Easter eggs in the comic titles shown on the shelves.
Next up is “Icing on the Cape,” which comes from a deleted scene from Heropa. It introduces us to Sir Omphalos, the legendary superhero of the titular city, who is often talked about in the book, but never seen. The tongue-in-cheek Silver Age style is most palpable in this one. Not only are there a couple of cameo appearances, we even get to hear the Big O exclaim, “Blazes!” It’s an extremely short adventure, and if you’re not familiar with Heropa, it might seem somewhat random and abrupt. It’s still an entertaining piece, though. And if, like me, you ARE familiar with Heropa, it’s pretty cool to see the Big O in full flight.
Finally, we have “Lazarus Slept,” which, in my opinion, is the best of the lot. I love the two main characters, Roy Scherer and Suzie Miller, Investigators of the Paranormal and Supermundane, who had a whole series of adventures in The Condimental Op. Roy is the hard-boiled private investigator, and Suzie is his annoyingly effervescent partner. Their stories are part noir, part horror, and part comedy, and the banter between the two characters is golden.
In “Lazarus Slept,” we see them go up against a zombie, which Suzie is quick to point out doesn’t actually meet the technical definition of a zombie, and is in fact something else entirely. They argue about technical definitions while facing down the undead. This is why I love Roy and Suzie. I’d love to see Mr. Bergen write some more adventures for them down the line.
Even the last page reinforces the tongue-in-cheek Silver Age motif. There’s a section for letters, notes from the editor, an increasingly bizarre list of upcoming comics, and more, all dripping with silliness and sarcasm. There’s even an invitation to join their fan club and an uncomfortably sexist call for submissions—both staples of the Silver Age of Comics.
All-in-all, this is a fun first issue, and it will be interesting to see what tales Bergen and Kyme will admonish us with next.