by Andrez Bergen & Matt Kyme
A new series being published by Australian comics publisher, if? Commix, Tales to Admonish is an anthology series with a fondness for the classics. Not classics in the sense of Silver Age or Golden Age cape comics, but something with a lot more pulp. The shorts filling out the pages of Tales to Admonish issue two are filled with a b-movie style, camp sensibility that touts pieces of the strange, caped crusaders and a post World War Three tale. The visuals are a solid pairing and there is a lot to enjoy here.
One thing about anthology books is that their length is often skewed by the number of different stories on display within the book’s pages. Here, Bergen and Kyme, in under twenty pages of true content, present three different stories, each with their own flavor. Initially, the odd pairing of Roy Sherer and Suzie Miller, investigators of the strange, return after their appearance in the first issue. The duo debate and disagree over the likelihood of a man being definitively a vampire. Suzie is not convinced, despite the obvious, and cautions against the possibility of a mistake and lawsuit. It’s silly and, naturally, the debate takes just long enough to let the creature strike.
The next two stories feature a female vigilante caught between a dilemma of nothing to wear on her date and a crime in progress, and a duo looking for a solution to staying alive after a nuclear fallout in the not-too-distant future. Each story lasts a few pages but offers enough to be satisfying. Bergen has a great sense of timing and voice to give each of these characters and their stories their own distinctions. Writers who shoulder several series and characters are tasked with treating each one with enough independence that they stand apart. With an anthology series, scripted by one author, that task becomes harder as the varying stories come one after another. Bergen, though, does a very good job and the issue holds up quite well.
The timing and tone of this type of series requires a complementary art style in order to be truly effective. Kyme’s art is every bit that. Each of the three tales take on a slightly different stylization. Whether its a small shift in character design, the panel sequencing, or the shift in color choice, Tales to Admonish is successful in providing some distinction to each of its three shorts. Kyme is a great choice for capturing the era and style intended.
Though the genre of these stories, as well as the anthology-presentation itself typically attract a smaller and more specific audience, Tales to Admonish works because it feels honest. The stories on display here are not ironic or using the air of homage to falsely attract fans of the genre. Instead, Bergen and Kyme do a solid job at offering new chapters into an old style. So while it won’t be for everyone, readers who are likely to seek out great pulp and monster stories have a lot to love here and Tales to Admonish really is a great bit of fun.