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Brainstorm Comix 2
 
excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 8
Brainstorm Comix #2
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Only Printing / Summer 1976 / 36 Pages / Alchemy Publications

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AVERAGE SCORE 8
Brainstorm Comix #2 features Bryan Talbot's 22-page second chapter in his Chester P. Hackenbush trilogy, entitled "From Here to Infinity." The story opens with Chester playing chess with his lone companion, Polly, a wingless parrot who helps guide Chester through his hallucinatory adventures. Polly interrupts their chess game to start another mind-bending trip into the cosmos, but this one won't be just a flight of fancy like the last one. She needs to train Chester to develop and harness his mental powers so he is better able to control his actions and his environment during his hallucinations.

Chester concentrates on a mirror until it dissolves, casting him and Polly into the "wood between the worlds." He meets two Groucho Marx-like characters who warn him about encountering a villain, which alarms Chester, but he soon understands that he is the one who will concoct the villain out of thin air through the power of his imagination. Sure enough, a villain appears, causing Chester to create a means of escape through a black hole, which dumps him and Polly into outer space. Chester conjures up a space ship and finds that Amanita, a knight of hallucination he befriended on his first trip, has joined his current adventure. Chester begins to adapt to his new powers and starts creating entirely new environments on a whim, but his training has only just begun.

When new enemies attack his domain, Chester assumes a superhero persona and blows them away, but during the confrontation both Polly and Amanita are abducted by the central villain in the story. Chester proceeds to track down Polly and Amanita in a gothic castle, where he rescues them while escaping the capture of an evil scientist. This sets up his final showdown with his ultimate adversary, which turns out to be someone he never expected.

"From Here to Infinity" is an enjoyable ride through Chester's alternate reality, providing Talbot one opportunity after another to turn the plot on a dime and depict a new, fantastic illusion for his readers. Editor Mal Burns states in his editorial that Talbot has created "a veritable psychic battleground" that guides and teaches Chester about "the complexities concerning the duality of life."

Following Talbot's story, Burns contributes a "Graphic Eye" column, a feature Burns would carry over to his own publication, Graphixus, in 1978. In this issue, Burns mentions Bogey, The First Kingdom, High Times and Howard the Duck among many others. After "Graphic Eye," P.D. Kennedy provides "Apulhed Cums to Town," a four-pager that is abysmally illustrated compared to Talbot but still an interesting read, as he injects publisher Lee Harris as a character and references Charles Bukowsk and Robert Crumb along with several others in the script.

The book closes with a page of letters to the editor, which include feedback about the first issue of Brainstorm Comix. The Brainstorm series gets off to a remarkably strong start with the first two issues and sets the stage beautifully for the final chapter in the Hackenbush trilogy. It's rather unfortunate that this stage is rudely appropriated by a completely different comic book (Mixed Bunch), but I suppose that only whets the appetite for what is yet to come.
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keyline

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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
Alchemy Productions printed about 10,000 copies of this comics book. It has not been reprinted.
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COMIC CREATORS:

Bryan Talbot - 1, 3-8, 10-21, 23-26, 34 (logo), 35-36 (ads)
Mal Burns - (editor) 2 (editorial), 27 (text)
P.D. Kennedy - 29-32
Gilbert Shelton - 33 (ad)