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Twilight by Howard Chaykin and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez

Twilight

Twilight is a three issue, prestige-format mini-series by Howard "American Flagg" Chaykin and illustrated (with fantastic cover art) by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.

Published in the early 1990s, it is ostensibly a retelling of the old 1950's-style 'space adventure' comics, but a knowledge of those dusty old heroes isn't essential to understanding or appreciating the series. (In fact, if you're just looking for a clever 'pulp' retelling, stick to Alan Moore's "Tom Strong").

Set in the distant future, humanity has explored the stars and made contact  with an alien race who possess the secret of immortality (and who look suspiciously like chickens). Back 'home', animals and robots have been forcibly evolved into sentient slave races, on the edge of revolt. Over the course of the three books of Twilight, centuries are spanned, gods are born (and destroyed), intergalactic crusades begin (and end) and, generally speaking, it all goes berserk.

The story is told from the point of view of Homer Glint, a Karl Rove/Alastair Campbell style spin-guru for the rich and powerful. Although he detests most of his clients (at best, having a love-hate relationship with them), he still eagerly helps them chart their various paths to fame and splendor.

The first book - dedicated almost solely to the introduction of the sixteen-odd 'main' characters, seems like a perplexing collection of unrelated scenes. Yet, somehow, by the close of the final volume, you wind up understanding and appreciating every one of the massive ensemble cast, a testament both to Chaykin's writing and Garcia-Lopez's ability to draw incredibly expressive characters.

The overall feel - perhaps because of the manic and epic pace - is much like a classic British comic. The closest comparison would be Alan Moore's "Halo Jones" - a fragmented epic journey detailing the entire future of humanity in strangely-framed comic book form. Garcia-Lopez's art only helps this comparison. Although a color book (which you wouldn't suspect from the cover), the focus is always on the characters - almost entirely on their faces. He also aptly avoids the square-jawed supermen of the convention.

Certainly not to be read in a hurry, or whilst intoxicated, Twilight is a surprisingly good artifact from the early 1990's, and is certainly worth the eBay scrounge.

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