October 11, 2009

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Flight Volume 2

Written by Various Writers
Illustrated by Various Artists
Villard (Random House)

The second, larger edition of Flight continues the tradition of telling short stories often with graphical design at the forefront. A lot of the same artists are back this time, and one of the stories gets continued from volume 1. This time, the Flight crew gets help from the excellent Doug TenNapel and also Jeff Smith, bolstering the roster just a bit.

The general theme of flight is still there, though this time some chose to do a flight of fancy or a flight from prison, which is a nice touch. The experimental work is gone, too, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your tolerance for those who wish to stretch the limits of the printed page. Given the size of this edition, I think it would have been okay to include some non-traditional work, but maybe there was none submitted by the group.

Favorites this time include the opening story, Smith's very short and funny story about universal travelers, a nifty little story of death called "The Ride", and a great parody about Icarus. But the best one of all has to be the one that's told with stick figures and sticky notes. Now THAT is my kind of story!

This is not to say those were the only good stories--far from it. Despite the larger size, the quality of this edition is amazing. I could easily talk about the child pirate, TenNapel's funny and touching story of faith (that has a great sequence in a store that just got in a "special" shipment of ape dung), magic bubbles, bounty hunters, a boy who wishes only to act but stays loyal to his fishing father, the ghostly street car, etc.

About the only argument one could make about this anthology is that it seems to skew much younger than the first volume, and therefore the art morphs into a more cartoonish style that might put some people off. However, just because the art is less technical does not mean the stories are any less enjoyable than in the first volume.

While some anthologies might sag under the weight of this many pages, the Flight team is just so good that no matter where you open this up to, you're going to find something good. Your favorites will no doubt be different from mine, but I cannot see any comics fan not liking this book. I'd even recommend it to non-comics fans who enjoy short stories with the theme of flights of imagination. I can't wait to read book three.