If you’re looking for an example of why Joe Kubert was venerated as an artist, then look no further than this collection. The exploits of Abraham Stone, a young farmboy who has come to the city in search of… VENGEANCE, are drawn with an expressiveness and attention to detail that’s still impressive to see nearly three decades removed from their original publication. You really get a sense for the gritty, run-down sections of New York; the fanciful glamour of the many sets of early Hollywood; and the chaos that follows Pancho Villa in the wake of his revolution. The roughness of Kubert’s linework feels perfectly suited to this bygone era and it’s easy to marvel at all the work he put into a single page. Sure, sometimes his characters can come off like they’re overacting, but it actually fits in with the storytelling’s throwback charm
“Throwback charm” is also the most charitable way I can describe the appeal of the storytelling here. The feel of these three stories can best be described as coming off like episodes of an old 70’s action/adventure TV show. Abraham may have the naivete of a young man, but he’s got a strength and resourcefulness beyond his years that will see the places mentioned above. Which leaves him as a likeable lead that’s to be stuck in stories that are predictable and offer few surprises. Speaking of which, don’t go into this expecting a progressive vision of minority or women’s roles. Only the portrayal of Pancho Villa and his men comes off as being borderline racist, however. Which ultimately leaves the stories to get by on the charm of its main character and the art from their creator. Something that will ultimately be decided by the reader’s own personal tastes.