Here's another one of my famous One Penny Purchases (plus £2.80 p&p) from the Amazon Marketplace. It's a book I've had my eye on for a while as a curio, but couldn't really bring myself to pay full price for as I feared it wouldn't really be my thing. I enjoyed it more than I expected, but I'm not sure I'd have been quite as pleased if I'd paid the Panini UK cover price of £12.99.
The book collects three "feature length" graphic novels starring four of Marvel's most famous characters, written and drawn by top European comics creators. I'd never heard of any of the writers or artists involved, but that's partly because they normally work in comics that don't often get translated into English and partly because I'm an insular yankee-comics reading xenophobe.
The first story, Wolverine: Saudade is by French creators Jean-David Morvan (writer) and Phillipe Bouchet (artist). Surprisingly, it doesn't feature Logan carving up the Eiffel Tower with his claws, but instead sends the shortarse muttonchop-wearer to Brazil in a search for two powerful mutants - a young street kid with hallucinatory powers and a crooked healer. It's quite a good read, particularly for the artwork which often crams 9+ panels to a page yet never looked crowded. The only complaint I had was with the translation (not the fault of the original writer) which is a little clumsy at times and features rather more adult language than you'd normally expect from an all-ages X-Men comic.
Then we have Dead On Arrival, starring Daredevil and Captain America, by Italian creators Tito Faraci and Claudio Villa. Set in the US, this features the return of Daredevil's old foe The Death Stalker through a time travel accident that threatens to have paradoxical consequences for the rest of the world. Plotwise it reads like a classic old Marvel Team-Up adventure, forcing DD and Cap into battle before they eventually work together to stop Death Stalker. There's a big slab of exposition early on that's a little hard to swallow in one go, but once that's out of the way Faraci shows a strong - if old-school - understanding of his cast. Villa's art is beautiful, reminiscent of Steve Eptig's better work, but also drawing atmospheric influence from classic Gene Colan Death Stalker appearances. Lovely stuff.
Finally, the one I was waiting for, Spider-Man In Venice, also written by Faraci, with art by native Venetian Giorgio Cavazzano. Stylistically this is the most traditionally European-looking strip of the three (though Cavazzano's cartoony style also reminds me of Sergio Aragones in places). Plotwise it's a little bit Scooby Doo, but Faraci is obviously having loads of fun writing Peter Parker. It's by far the shortest of the three stories, yet it's also the one I enjoyed the most... though that might be because I'm such a big Spidey fan. Made me long for a reprint of Mike Collins' old Spidey In Britain story that Marvel UK ran when I was a kid, and to the best of my knowledge has never been collected in the US.