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‘Bill Sienkiewicz’s Mutants, Moon Knights…and Assassins: Artifact Edition’ (review)

Illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz 
Published by IDW Publishing

 

When Bill Sienkiewicz first arrived on the scene some four decades or so ago now, everyone could easily detect the influence of Neal Adams on his artwork. That wasn’t a bad thing!

Most new comics artists are influenced by what came before. The question is always, can they move beyond it? The comics horizon is littered with the pencil shavings of many a promising young talent who never developed a style of their own.

You’ll note that Bill Sienkiewicz is not amongst those trivia question wannabe comics creators.

No, Bill is very much still around and working, even if not often in the day to day world of monthly comic books.

Having long since risen to his own unique and exalted place in the pantheon of comics artists, it’s not a joke to say he’s too good for the industry at this point.

As with Jim Steranko and Barry Windsor-Smith before him, the lucky reader who followed Sienkiewicz’s rapid rise to award-winning stylization and illustrative success knew they were in on something special.

Now comes Bill Sienkiewicz’s Mutants, Moon Knights…and Assassins, the latest art collection in IDW’s Artifacts Editions, which gives us all an even closer look at the artist’s growing experimentation, mostly in his 1980s Marvel stories.

Although you’ll find the New Mutants, Elektra, Moon Knight, Daredevil, and Dazzler here, all in IDW’s now expected sharpness, you won’t find any full stories this time around. Well, one.

What you will pore over endlessly, though, if you’re like me, are Bill’s evolving page layouts, his ability to make thin lines bow to his will, and his almost sudden mastery of spotting blacks.

My favorite of his strips back in the day was Moon Knight, done with writer Doug Moench. In the earliest examples seen here, the Adams influence is still strong, which worked since the character was thought to be Marvel’s take on Batman. There aren’t a lot of Moon Knight pages here but there are enough to give a succinct look at how quickly everything changed.

By the time one reaches the fully painted color pages from Elektra toward the end of this volume, he’s just running with it, with new ideas and new techniques cropping up on nearly every page. I couldn’t tell you what the Elektra: Assassin story was all about back then because I was too busy just enjoying Bill’s art. That’s something you’ll have no problem doing either when you pick up Bill Sienkiewicz’s Mutants, Moon Knights…and Assassins.

Booksteve recommends!

 

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