Writer Joe Casey (Uncanny X-Men, Adventures of Superman) and artist Ian MacEwan (Sex) are back together again for MCMLXXV (1975, for those of us who don’t do so well with Roman numerals). The series from Image Comics will release this fall and center around Pamela Evans. Evans is a badass who knows how to use her enchanted tire iron against the creatures who roam the streets at night. She also happens to be the best cab driver in Manhattan.
MacEwan’s art is a highlight of the first issue– MCMLXXV truly looks like a comic book straight out of 1975. There are no fancy costumes or gaudy vehicles here. The urban jungle of Manhattan is realistically rendered with even city skylines and chaotic battles having a natural look. The gritty appearance tells as much of a story as the action and dialogue do. This succeeds in drawing the reader in to the story.
MCMLXXV is filled with action and the panel placement gives the entire book a cinematic feel. Spreading scenes across multiple panels conveys the chaotic nature of the book without ever looking too jumbled. The book’s many fight scenes convey a sense of movement that put the reader in the action. This is where the panel placement excels, as seeing the skirmishes in MCMLXXV is almost like watching them on television. There are a few large scale battles that could easily confuse someone, but the art never allows that to happen.Color plays an important role in MCMLXXV and Brad Simpson’s work adds to the comic’s atmosphere. Manhattan is filled with shadows at night making the lurid lights of the city stand out. This also makes the mystical tire iron’s glow seem even more powerful (never thought I would type that sentence.) Daytime scenes are also in muted browns, yellows, and reds that put the reader in 1975. The reader never has to imagine being in a bygone era since they are thrown into it.
The story is straight out of the Bronze Age, and I mean that in the most complimentary sense. Pamela is a New York cab driver who works at night and comes home tired. She does not speak in grandiose terms and dresses like an everyday working person. Glimpses into Pamela’s personal life further humanize her character and Casey does an excellent job of sprinkling humor throughout the book. MCMLXXV also has something of a narrator in Prefect Patterson, who is included in a clever way.What makes MCMLXXV most similar to earlier comic books are the battles that are being fought. Bronze Age comics may have dealt with poverty and drugs, but the more fanciful elements were not entirely eliminated (we are dealing with superheroes, after all). While the characters and setting are familiar, the enemies and battles are otherworldly.
MCMLXXV is a perfect melding of story and art. Older comic book fans will appreciate the look and style while newer fans can still enjoy the story and action. MCMLXXV does not reinvent the wheel, but it effortlessly finds its own place on it.