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Chain Reactions | Mystery in Space #1

Mystery in Space

Vertigo has produced a number of one-shots that harken back to various DC anthologies of yesterday, dusting off titles like Strange Adventures and The Unexpected and giving them a modern Vertigo flavor. The latest is Mystery in Space, which includes sci-fi stories by creators like Mike Allred, Kyle Baker, Ann Nocenti, Ming Doyle, Andy Diggle, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Ramón F. Bachs and many more.

Like most anthologies, there are hits and misses. Here are some overall opinions on the collection; if you’re curious what people thought about each individual story, I recommend heading over to the reviews by Multiversity Comics, Martin Gray or Comics Bulletin.

Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “Mystery in Space #1 has a beautiful cover by Ryan Sook, evoking celestial wonder. As for the rest of the book, the only wonder is that someone thought it was fit to publish as a $7.99, 80pp giant. For while the revived Silver Age one-off hosts a few decently written and drawn stories with an intriguing idea or two, much of the material proved a slog to get through.”

Jason Clyna, Broken Frontier: “Vertigo’s new Mystery in Space anthology is so much more than a loose collection of stories. Several of these unconnected tales boggle the mind, break the laws of physics, and challenge humanity’s concept of reality. Over the course of more than 70 consistently gorgeous pages, Duane Swierczynski, Michael Allred, Andy Diggle, and many more tell their own short stories that will satisfy fans of both science fiction and quality storytelling.”

Danny Djeljosevic, Comics Bulletin: “The various editors all contributing to this anthology is akin to a record with a different producer on each track — individual songs might be okay, but as an album it doesn’t hold together. While on one hand it’s cool that apparently everyone in the Vertigo office jammed together to put out Mystery in Space, as a collection of nine stories all under the same cover, there’s a distinct lack of unity.”

Joshua Yehl, IGN: “With each story only being several pages long, the creative teams are tasked with establishing their sci-fi world and then telling a complete story in a short span, and some are more successful than others. A few of the writers get too caught up in their philosophical arguments, reality-altering aliens, and space-witches, leaving the best story being the one about a group of space-garbage-men in a three-way relationship. Robert Rodi’s writing is sharp and humorous, while Sebastian Fiumara’s artwork clearly tells the story with excellent character designs and creative sci-fi machinery. Aliens might be weird, but human behavior always seems to reign supreme on the weird-stuff-o-meter.”

Colin Smith, Too Busy Thinking About My Comics: “It’s tough working out who Mystery In Space was actually intended for. Comics readers are unlikely to take to such unengaging and expensive fare, while the chances of attracting science-fiction fans from other mediums is seriously limited by the functional-at-best art and the mediocre scripts. The short story is an incredibly demanding form, and anything other than excellence will soon get found out. A cluster of so-so tales will work as well as a gaggle of also-ran album-tracks trading under the title of a ‘greatest hits’ collection, context being a promise, etc, etc. Was it too many editors that spoiled the broth, or have folks just forgotten the art of the fiercely compelling short story?”

Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “Mystery in Space has a great opening section, but after that the book quickly settles into a bad slump. It’s too bad, because a space/science-fiction themed anthology seems like a natural for a lot of strong pieces. In the end, this should have been better than what we actually got, but I’m glad for the stories that did work.”



DC brought back Mystery in Space for almost a year in the 80’s with some absolutely incredible covers by Kubert and it was the monthly anthology. I love the idea of getting to see new writers and experienced ones give the old style of 4 page stories a shot, like in the 80 page Giants for Batman and other. It’s along with the Unexpected. Those books are intended for the 30-50 age group that fondly remember those books as a kid.

It’s no different than Strange Tales by Marvel, but it’s not a 4 issue mini.

What’s the discussion, here?

Judge Fred MANSON

May 20, 2012 at 1:49 am

I do not agree at all with almost all the comments here. Where can you find such anthology book at a real bargain price?

As Chris said, “Those books are intended for the 30-50 age group that fondly remember those books as a kid.”, so what’s the matter with you all?

Are you not happy to read again these kinds of stories? In an affordable format? In an affordable price?

I hope that Vertigo will continue to publish such anthology books, at a more regular schedule (every month – like DHP!! OK, DC guys???? You have heard me???) and if you don’t like them, do not buy them. That’s very simple.

So, what’s the discussion, here?

I liked Mystery in Space, but as noted above, some of the stories really didn’t hold together. Still worth the $7.99 though.

@Chris and Fred, I don’t get what you’re getting at when you ask ‘what’s the discussion here’? Chain Reactions is a regular feature collecting a bunch of reviews of a recent comic. The views are opinions on the quality of the book.

Sin this case, no, it’s not enough the MiS offers 80pp for $7.99 – what’s on the pages is important. I’m in the 30-50 age group, and am always willing to give an anthology a chance. This one just wasn’t great.

Difinetaly not worth 8 bucks. Less than half the stories were good.

We’ve got a review of that over yonder at PLAYBACK:stl.–no-mystery-in-this-space

A few choice quotes…

“In general, Vertigo anthologies recall Charlie Brown striving to placekick Lucy’s football, and in that regard, sad to say, the science fiction–themed Mystery in Space #1 proves unexceptional. […] Virtually all of the stories suffer from one or more of the typical faults of SF in comics: lazily explanatory dialogue or captions (in the generic argot, infodumps), grossly inadequate and often laughable heuristics, and putatively surprising or moralistic twist endings. Moreover, somewhere between the anthology’s solicitation and its publication, a contribution involving “an intergalactic space heist” by writer/artist Paul Pope vanished into the ether.”

Just curious: was there ever any explanation given for Paul Pope’s story disappearing?

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