Madness, mayhem, and mystery permeate the dieselpunk world of Adventureman—a retrofuturistic graphic novel series created by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson. In the opening pages, readers are swept into a weird and fantastical world dominated by a villainous fiend known as Baron Bizarre, demon champion of the Ultravoid, who draws his power from the fear of all humanity. Championing the heroic efforts to topple his terrorizing regime is the noble Adventureman, who leads an all-out effort to undermine and vanquish this dreaded evil in Apocalypsdra—the concluding storyline to a comic book series that was never completed.

Switch over to the real world, and meet single mother Claire Connell, along with her ten-year-old son Tommy, as they attempt to decipher the missing plot elements of the unfinished cliffhanging story arc to Adventureman. The adventure begins one day at a bookshop where Claire works when a lady clad in Victorian attire slips into her shop, drops off a rare vintage edition of Adventureman, and vanishes just as mysteriously as she had arrived. A dark, shadowy figure then storms through in hot pursuit and from there, the mystery intensifies as the figure disintegrates into a swarm of flies, beetles, centipedes, and other nasty crawling vermin. Shortly thereafter, the comics world collides with Claire’s as she starts meeting outlandish characters and locales in a dark and sinister world populated by pirates, robots, ghosts, magicians, and a host of other animated characters with strange and wondrous powers.

Reminiscent of the uncanny weirdness in Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol and China Miéville’s Dial H, Adventureman integrates shifting parallel world elements mixed with a plethora of twists and wild chase scenes that steer off the map of reality. Stylized character designs of flamboyant superheroes and villains in this vibrant universe create a majestic period piece of epic proportions. At the same time, we are introduced to Claire’s boisterous Jewish family and her six sisters—each with a distinct personality—which offers comic relief at their vibrant Friday night Sabbath dinners, grounding Claire in her “normal” family life.

Fraction and Dodson’s writing and artwork transport readers into an alternate world within a world as Claire crisscrosses dimensions of reality and fiction, literally meeting characters that materialize from the pages of the comic series Adventureman. Each panel captures detailed elements with swift narrative action, incrementally building the mounting suspense amidst an ever-deepening mystery. The background conveys a noir-like sense of place and time coupled by extraordinary characters infused with exotic personalities and powers. Like a gigantic puzzle waiting to be unlocked, Claire and her son Tommy must navigate a labyrinth of intrigue and suspense every step of the way, each chapter serving as a springboard into yet another adventure.

Structured like a multilayered mystery jam-packed with madcap thrills in a dieselpunk world, Adventureman blends magic and science intersected by plot twisting intrigue at every turn. This first volume grounds readers in a fantastic, noir-like landscape and introduces the players, setting up the stage for even more surprises to come. A fun addition to library genre collections—particularly for those who enjoy indulging in quirky fantasies—this title aims to entice readers in a whimsical and confounding way.


Adventureman, Volume 1: The End and Everything After 1
By Matt Fraction
Art by Terry Dodson
ISBN: 978-1-5343-1712-3
Image Comics, 2020
Publisher Age Rating:
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18)
Character Traits: Hearing loss

  • Jerry

    | He/Him Information Strategist, San Francisco Public Library

    Reviewer

    By day, Jerry Dear, APALA member and Information Strategist at the San Francisco Public Library tackles research questions in the Periodicals department. He also teaches in the Library Information Technology department at City College of San Francisco. By night, he serves the Asian American community and ventures into the vibrant literary arts and graphic novel scene. In whatever time remains, he indulges in comics, anime, manga, and Asian American literature and film.

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