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‘normalman Omnibus’ (graphic novel review)

Written and Illustrated by Jim Valentino
Published by Shadowline /Image Comics


Jim Valentino is one of those guys in comics that has been around forever. He’s done everything at this point and was even one of the founders of Image Comics. He is still on the board there amongst other things.

Of all the Image founders, he has always been the strangest, the one that wasn’t just a superstar artist, but something more. Valentino actually came from the world of independent comics. This book here started off in independent comics, well before the formation of Image.

In fact, it first appeared in Dave Sim’s independent colossus known as Cerebus as a backup story. Over forty years later, it has been collected here.

normalman may actually be Valentino’s best work, too. He was never so on point or as fun as he was in these comics.

The spoofing and comedy here are both pretty well done and accomplished. normalman’s father is a CPA on the planet called Planet Arnold. He is afraid that the planet is going to explode. So he does the only thing that he can think of. He puts his infant son on a rocket ship to the planet known as Levram (say it backwards, I promise it is fun!) Planet Arnold never explodes but normalman still makes it to Levram. He immediately comes to find out something is truly amiss.

So what thing is amiss?

Well, everyone on Levram has super powers. There are all types too. It is pretty well demonstrated how normalman finds this out for himself. He also learns that he is the only one on the planet without powers!

What is he to do? I love that Valentino takes the Superman mythos and reverses it in such a comical fashion. I also love the areas that he looks to explore in each other the stories featured here. He takes all of these conceits and concepts and spins them all on their heads perfectly. I love that he seems to be having a lot of fun and getting a lot of enjoyment out of each moment too. It is fun, strange and just the right amount of bizarre craziness.

A lot of the book is centered around normalman trying to escape this crazy planet.

In doing so, he comes up with a bunch of schemes and plans to escape the planet. None of them work and he is stuck there each and every time. It gets funnier and funnier and also a bit sad and emotional. Valentino manages to put in a bunch of emotion to go along with the silliness to balance it all out.

There is also a great supporting cast with this book.

The most memorable and important in the series is Captain Everything. Captain Everything is on normalman’s side and he concocts a few plans of his own in trying to get his friend off this world. None of them succeed, but we are left with some truly laugh out loud moment. His character is so absurd, yet you cannot help but love him and root for him.

Valentino does a great job too with the artistic duties on this. He wears his artistic inspirations on his sleeve with this and there are homages everywhere. He does the homages perfectly too. He goes from Steranko, to Kirby, to Richard and Wendy Pini in Elfquest perfectly. I love that the whole thing is in black and white too. It really makes the line work stand out.

This omnibus is a pretty thorough and perfect package overall. It has everything, and I mean everything. House ads, team ups with Megaton Man and Flaming Carrot, and even process pages. You can’t ask for anything more complete than this. It is full of extras and material that is both interesting and educational.

Jim Valentino has been a big supporter of independent creators for his entire career. It is easy to see why. His first big success shows that he has always been interested in the field. It also shows just how much he loves it. That love comes through on each and every page, in each and every panel. At the end of the day, you cannot ask for much more than that.

This was a total delight.


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