Welcome to the glorious return of Funnybooks Offline … here’s hoping we can keep this a weekly column this time :).  So what’s Funnybooks Offline?  Well, all your regular co-hosts on Funnybooks read a lot more comics than just the ones we talk about.  Great books like Irredeemable, Little Depressed Boy, Wolverine, and others that don’t get talked about on the show.  Mostly the reason is that we’ve found, when only one person has read a particular book, it takes away from the discussion format of the show for them to review it alone.   However, that also means that there are some great books out there that aren’t getting talked about.  Funnybooks Offline is our answer to that.

I spoke about Marvel’s new Mystery Men title recently on the show, but the review was left on the cutting room floor because it hurt the flow of the episode.  I’m okay with that though because it gives me a separate venue to discuss the series at more length, having read through issue three now.

Simply put, Mystery Men kicks all kinds of ass.  The series takes place during the 1930’s of the Marvel Universe and, though it’s supposed to call out to particular Marvel characters, either that hasn’t happened yet, or it’s happening all the time and I just don’t know enough about Marvel history.  Written by novelist David Liss with art by Patrick Zircher, Mystery Men is a very pulp take on Marvel’s past, featuring the formation of a group of heroes all mired in the tropes that we’ve come to love from pulp fiction.  We’ve got a Shadow-esque character called The Operative, a mysterious magician called The Revenant, a rocket lady named The Aviatrix, a super powered archaelogist named Achilles and a demented doctor, The Surgeon.  All bring something different to the team, and all are perfect examples of pulp heroes and antiheroes.

David Liss is writing the hell out of the book, focusing a bit on the origins of each character, and their motivations for mutually taking on The General, who has made a deal with an evil demon for immortality.  The art by Patrick Zircher is phenomenal, mixing a modern sensibility and storytelling with the pulp noir art needed to tell this dark superhero tale.  And there is no doubt that this is a superhero book.  The Mystery Men may be flawed, but they’re trying to save the day, or get revenge, and we’re lucky enough to be reading their exploits in this new five issue mini-series that you absolutely must read if you’re into the whole pulp thing.  Fans of our Knights of Reignsborough podcast might get a kick out of this book too, as Knights characters like The Necropath were inspired by the same inspirations for this book.

I’ve heard the series compared to a previous Marvel series called The Twelve, but I’m pretty sure that series never ended, whereas we’re only 2 months away from the completion of this mini.  That being said, my comic shop can’t keep this book on the shelves because it keeps selling out, so I’m hoping this isn’t the last time we’ll see these characters.

For fans of The Rocketeer, The Shadow, or any kind of comic set in the 30’s.  However, don’t expect a light-hearted romp – this book is deadly serious. Highly, highly recommended.