Frank Robbins’ masterpiece, one of the all-time greatest action/adventure newspaper comic strips, Johnny Hazard, returns with Volume Two of the series! Continues the adventures of Johnny Hazard and Brandy picking up the storyline where Volume One left off. See more trend-setting artwork by comics legend Frank Robbins in one of the most important adventure strips ever to grace newspapers. Reproduced entirely from original King Features press proofs.
- Hermes Press, May 2013
- ISBN 978-1-61345-017-8
- 6.25″ x 10.25“, 288 pages, hardcover
- $49.99 USD
- Order online: Amazon, Biblio, AbeBooks
Five stories featuring Hazard’s rough and tumble life as a civilian. As is common for adventure strips of the time, Hazard is the straight man and framework to the strip, with all the excitement and flair coming from the revolving supporting cast and more prominently the villains. Each tale is quite involved, with a large cast and plenty of twists.
The variety of stories plays well to the rogues’ gallery. We start with a missing brother who is flying missions in the jungle, but it’s Doctor Fox and his criminal hypnotism that steal the show. Next, it’s Captain Gore and his femme fatale Lady Mist that try to bring the curtain down on Hazard and company as they assist a friend. Then Major Risk tries to complete his coup d’etat while Brandy and Hazard cover it as news. Finally, Lady Mist makes a return appearance to ensnare our hero.
Hazard’s only bankable skill appears to be his piloting, so that’s the hook for each adventure. At first, he’s chauffeur to Brandy and her reporting antics, helping out and getting a gig here and there. Finally, the romance goes sour and Hazard makes his own way for another flying gig, where this volume wraps up. It allows for all the exotic locations and variety of cultures and dangers.
The stories all feature life and death situations, but Robbins works in levity wherever it fits. Without those humour breaks the strip would be pretty grim, with violence around every corner. The post-war landscape is full of unsavoury characters making money wherever they can.
To go with the foreign locations most of the characters have some type of accent that is shown phonetically. He doesn’t take it too far so you can follow it all.
Robbins’ art has a Caniff and Wunder feel to it, depending on the panel. I was surprised by how many panels had no background, and how it didn’t affect the pace or story engagement. It’s an action strip, which he draws lively with engaging poses and animated facial expressions. Fluid would be the best way I can describe his ability to draw action.
The design is very simple. Two strips to a page, with page numbers and book title along the bottom-left of each page. Spreading the title across the two pages is witty. Chapter dividers are a welcome touch, as are story titles, but there’s no indication of strip or story date.
Reproduction quality for the first four stories is excellent, with the text and black lines clean and clear. The fifth story is a mess with a lot of broken text and thick muddy images, most notably the second half. It’s hard to believe this fifth story is “from original King Features press proofs” as Hermes states.
Production is excellent. A sewn binding of medium glossy paper. The book has no trouble laying flat because of the orientation.
My biggest issue with the Johnny Hazard series is value. For $50 and 6.25″ x 10.25″ it’s the most expensive strip collection for its size. For those that enjoy digital reading, these can be had for $15-25 from Comixology/Amazon, and on most larger tablets you’re getting it larger than the print version.