It’s been nearly two years since I reviewed the first volume of Adventureman. While I remember the basic story, I was a bit fuzzy on some of the details. So, before embarking on this new graphic novel, I took it upon myself to reread the first volume and be sure I was up to speed. No easy task, to be sure, but I did it for you, dear reader. I made that sacrifice for you. (Truth be told, I probably could have just jumped right into the new volume and been fine, but it was as good an excuse as any to reread one of the most fun comics I’ve read in a long time.)
When we last left our hero at the end of Volume 1, Claire Connell, the new Adventureman, was in the fight of her life to stop the evil Baroness Bizarre from destroying the world with an army of bugs. Now, as we pick up the story with Volume 2… the crisis is resolved within the first chapter. The rest of the volume is then devoted to a completely new story arc.
I found this rather jarring, and throughout the entire story, I kept wondering why they didn’t add an extra chapter to the previous volume, to finish out that arc, then begin the new volume with the new story. Then, at the end of this volume, when the story ended on yet another cliffhanger, it finally dawned on me: The cliffhanger ending was a staple of the type of story that Adventureman homages (i.e., pulp magazines and movie adventure serials of the 1930s and 1940s). Then, Matt Fraction essentially admitted as much in the backmatter of the volume. Cliffhangers are a big part of what Adventureman is all about.
(Side note: Did you know that the extra content at the end of a book or graphic novel, after the story part is done, is called backmatter? You probably did. I did not. Matt Fraction explained that, too.)
In the new story arc, we meet the Crossdraw Kid – the Last Black Cowboy of Brooklyn. A title passed down the generations, we see a previous iteration of the hero helping Adventureman on Christmas Eve somewhere around the 1920s, complete with mask, horse, cowboy hat, and magical guns. Then in the present, we meet his grandson, Chris, who drives a hansom cab around New York as a tourist attraction and isn’t quite sure about the whole cowboy business.
Meanwhile, Claire is running low on the Adventureserum that gives her her powers, just as a gang of ghosts starts terrorizing the New York subway system. Plus, Claire’s son, Tommy, is rehearsing to be in his school’s stage production of A Christmas Carol and has some rather unorthodox ideas about how the production should go.
Between the new Adventureman and her family, and the reluctant new Crossdraw Kid and his grandfather, can they find out what’s behind this gang of ghosts and stop them before they cause any more harm? You won’t exactly find out the answers to these questions, because, again, the volume ends on a cliffhanger, before the story is completed. Still, the journey getting there is quite a ride and a lot of fun as always.
The only drawback to this story arc is that I miss the characters from the old Adventureteam. They were a prominent part of the previous volume, but hardly show up at all in this story. Even the old Adventureman himself has a reduced role, as the flashbacks that are a staple of this comic now focus more on the Crossdraw Kid and his family lineage; however, that’s not a bad thing. I love the character and his backstory. Honestly, I’d love to see the Crossdraw Kid and his family get their own spinoff. First, though, let’s see how this story plays out.
This volume is full of adventure and fun and very much worth reading. I can’t wait to see how the story ends and how the next one begins. Hopefully, I won’t have to wait two years this time. Even if I do, though, this comic is worth waiting for. And rest assured that when Volume 3 does come out, I will take it upon myself to reread both Volumes 1 and 2 to ensure that I’m all caught up. It’s no easy task, dear reader, but I will make that sacrifice for you.
Creative Team: Matt Fraction (writer), Terry Dodson (penciler and colorist), Rachel Dodson (inker), Clayton Cowles (letterer), Leonardo Olea (designer), and Turner Lobey (editor)
Publisher: Image Comics
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