Staff Picks (December): Aztec Ace — The Complete Collection

Doug Moench is responsible for many of my favorite comics from the 70s and 80s. His work is as ambitious as it is quirky. Doug can take a familiar franchise and turn it up to 11 like no one else: Frankenstein/Deathlok, James Bond/Master of Kung Fu, Batman/Moon Knight. His ideas flow a mile a minute, and with a strong editor to keep him on the rails, he is fantastic. His work at Marvel and DC is seminal and still informs characters like Batman today. His work at Eclipse however gave him a new level of freedom – which brings us to Aztec Ace.

Aztec Ace asks the question: "What if Doctor Who was created by an American?" The emphasis is Mesoamerican instead of British. The hero openly sleeps with his companion. The TARDIS is Sigmund Freud’s disembodied head. Moench then finally coats everything with a veneer of Raymond Chandler hardboiled detectives and pop song lyrics. The plot continually resets through time travel and paradox just as the reader thinks he is beginning to get the storyline, much like the staccato of a fast-talking car salesman.

I loved this series with a passion. You really had to take time to read each issue. You had to set it down, digest it and then come back to it for a second helping. Moench has filled it with icons, symbols, history and philosophy. At its best his puns and stream of conscious plots are almost Joycean. At its worst there are still more concepts and references per panel than most of today’s publishers entire release schedule.

I should also point out Dan Day’s draftsmanship and Nestor Redondo’s inks are superb. This was from a period when draftsmanship was still a major part of comic illustration. These books look good. An Omnibus collection is really the best way to read Aztec Ace. You need to have all 544 pages of it in your hands to flip back and forth and remind yourself what has happened. Even now I am still not completely sure what the plot is really about -- or why Benjamin Franklin was naked -- but I do know this, it was never boring.

Jim Fallone

Publisher: It’s Alive!
Item Code: DEC181921
Release Date: 3/6/19
SRP: $69.99

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