Tales to Admonish Vol. 1 trade paperback review

By Ben Kooyman

The first three issues of Andrez Bergen and Matt Kyme’s anthology series Tales to Admonish featured zombies, vampires, botched larceny, superheroic and post-apocalyptic epic fails, World War One aerial escapades, and screwball noir. Read our review of Bergen and Kyme’s work here


 

These first three issues have been reprinted in the Tales to Admonish Vol. 1 trade paperback, along with some introductory notes from Kyme and Bergen, a foreword by Jason Franks (Left Hand Path) and the previously unpublished fourth issue of the series containing five new tales. Where Kyme handled illustrating duties across the first three issues, a quintet of capable new artists takes over for this latest batch of vignettes.

The issue starts strong with Witch’s Brew (art by Gareth Colliton), in which the infamous Countess Bathory is transported to the far future, where she encounters crass commercialism and a deficiency of blood, much to her chagrin. Next up in Never Mind the Phopars, a young Roy Scherer, future protagonist of Bergen’s Roy and Suzie vignettes, is surprised by a werewolf waitress and a business proposition over a bowl of pho with his boss. I had encountered this vignette previously in Bergen’s novel Small Change (read our review here) and it’s nicely rendered here with art by Adam Rose.

The third and fifth vignettes are cute but slight: In the Beginning, the Word, illustrated by Ken Best, recounts a discussions of Adam’s apples between a mugger and a prostitute, while Short Change, adapted by Asela de Silva from a ‘yarn’ by Bergen, presents a meeting between an elegant reporter and a short antiquarian. The fourth vignette, however, is a corker: Bottom’s Up, drawn by Simon A. Wright with inks by Kyme, in which a Mark Hamill-looking slob is courted by a pint-sized superhero to heed his call to arms and unceremoniously declines.

My previous observations on Bergen and Kyme’s Admonish stories as well as the vignettes comprising Bergen’s Black & White (read our review here) apply to this quintet: the stories are entertaining, bite-sized riffs on well-worn genres like classical horror, hard-boiled noir, superhero exploits, and investigative intrigue. They are particularly good when going against the grain of convention, such as Bottom’s Up, which slyly jabs at the pomp and ceremony of superhero origin stories and Bildungsroman, and when they casually weave in pop culture iconography, such as the use of Bewitched’s Endora as a secondary character in Witch’s Brew. Even stories that are slight are still enjoyable diversions, and overall the five episodes comprising issue four nicely complement the previous Tales to Admonish issues and help round out the trade paperback.


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