Page 45 Review by Stephen
Back on our shelves! Review originally written half a dozen years or so ago...
And now, as they say, for something completely different.
Also, a confessionette (it's like a maisonette, only smaller, secret and guilt-ridden): I hadn't until this afternoon actually read this book. 30 years I've had, so with an Eisner reprint every month at the moment, now seemed about bloody time. You can tell it's 30 years old: it's only 120 pages long yet it took me hours to devour. It's like LUTHER ARKWRIGHT: dense and intense because way back then every page counted. No extravagantly silent or two-panel pages here! Instead there are lots of highly inventive layouts for which Eisner was famous in his SPIRIT pieces, with panels like windows under torrential rain or bordered by the sprawling, leafy drive of a mafia boss.
It's an insane caper of international proportions aspiring to the sky, catalysed by two Astronomers in New Mexico picking up a signal from space in the form of a stream of prime numbers. Within moments a Soviet mole gets wind of the discovery, then the CIA's brought in, Nadia makes her first appearance and quickly the whole thing sprawls out of control as countries, corporations, cults and even dictator President Ami of Sidiami become embroiled in a race to respond or prevent a response to the alien message. For Sidiami, read Uganda (Idi Amin was in charge when this came out); and for U.S. Presidential candidate Milgate, read Nixon, I'd have thought. Heavily in debt to many world nations, Ami seeks to reverse his country's fortunes by having his country secede from planet Earth then selling it to the highest bidder as a launch site for a probe into space whose single occupant will be a plant mutated from the cells of a mafia member fleeing family retribution after killing his wife.
Sorry...? Yes, it really is that insane - not your normal Will Eisner affair at all - with multiple alliances and reversals of loyalty as each individual connives to get what they want whether it's a man, a woman, a seat on the board or a President in their pocket. As such it's as well observed as his Jewish autobiography. It just couldn't be further from DROPSIE AVENUE geographically or in scope.