Exclusive Fantagraphics Preview: All Time Comics: Atlas #1 is Bloody, Exploitive Superhero Fun

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Exclusive Fantagraphics Preview: <i>All Time Comics: Atlas</i> #1 is Bloody, Exploitive Superhero Fun

Earlier this month, indie comics publisher Fantagraphics did the unthinkable and published a superhero book. For a bastion devoted to showing the elasticity of where comics can go through slice-of-life, manga, erotica and beyond, venturing into the world of capes and cowls seemed like heresy. Sequential art has long fought to define itself as a medium, and not a genre; the biggest companies rely on men and women punching each other in unitards, so why venture into markets already mined to hell and back?

Writer Josh Bayer, industry veteran Herb Trimpe and Songs Illustrated alumnus Benjamin Marra showed us how with Crime Destroyer, the first entry in a quadriptych of new characters under the new All Time Comics umbrella. Fangraphics’ rationale for the endeavor, articulated in an Entertainment Weekly piece, is passionately apt in the age of shameless synergy:

This is also a period when comics seem to be in danger of being eclipsed by movies and videogames, and All Time Comics is here to remind people that comics, not movies, not action figures or toys, that started our cultural obsession with superheroes. All Time Comics is us, and we stand for comics. Comics are not fading. They will stand… for all time.

Atlas joins other All Time characters Crime Destroyer, Bullwhip and Blind Justice with a debut in late May—the third release in the series following Bullwhip #1 next month. Written by Bayer and illustrated by Marra, Atlas embraces old-school, four-color nostalgia—you can almost smell the pulp looking over the textures and chiseled physiques. Of note, Marra also has a story credit in the issue, which perfectly fits his ethos—this comic looks batshit violent. Any reader who’s ventured into Marra’s graphic novel Terror Assaulter or odds-and-ends collection, American Blood, should recognize the collage of b-movie adulation, cultural insight and sheer fun splattered across these pages. He and Bayor play with exploitation prison tropes before adding the big-chested bravado of Atlas, a caped strongman with “anti-matter breath” who attempts to save a burn victim. (Spoiler Alert: he probably doesn’t.)

Though the issue is two months away, the five pages below should offer a potent taste of the book to come. Also: Anders Nilsen is doing a variant cover (???!!!!)

Full Solicitation:


Josh Bayer (writer); Bayer and Ben Marra (story), Marra (art); Das Pastoras (cover); Paul Lyons (Cover); Anders Nilsen (cover) MAY 2017

The American public is being manipulated. The media is powerless. The Congressman is corrupt. Can Atlas save us? Or will be be defeated…. by his own deepest fears? Writer Josh Bayer and acclaimed artist Ben Marra (Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T.) present the darkest, the most political, the most relevant and the most fanta*stic All Time Comics adventure yet. Read it now, before Congress says you can’t! Covers by Das Pastoras and TK.

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All Time Comics: Atlas #1 Interior Art by Benjamin Marra

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All Time Comics: Atlas #1 Interior Art by Benjamin Marra

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All Time Comics: Atlas #1 Interior Art by Benjamin Marra

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All Time Comics: Atlas #1 Interior Art by Benjamin Marra

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All Time Comics: Atlas #1 Interior Art by Benjamin Marra