321 Fast Comic! Volume 2 Review

Posted November 13, 2015 by Josh McCullough in Comic Books

*note: this is an advance review of a comic currently on Kickstarter. You can find out more on their official page*

Written by: Various

Art by: Various

Published by: Timberwolf Entertainment

Felipe Cagno’s 321 Fast Comics! is back, rocking a new dinner scene to order up a second helping of short stories ranging from sweet and funny to scary and thought provoking. I reviewed the first volume last year, which you can check out here. For those who don’t know (and obviously skipped the first review, shame on you) the premise of this collection is immediately both simple and fascinating. Every story in this anthology must stick to three rules: they must be 3 pages long, contain 2 characters and have 1 twist ending, outside of that, everything is up for grabs. This of course offers up a huge amount of variety and different ways to interpret the rules, but after such a strong first volume, are there really that many more stories to tell? You’d think that another volume would feel tiring, especially when it has even more stories than the first. Surprisingly though, this collection manages to feel just as fresh and original as the first one, and the concept never gets tired through the 31 stories in this collection.

There are a few changes from the first volume this time round. As stated, this volume forgoes the previous one’s bar setting in favor of a 50s dinner type thing. It doesn’t add a huge amount to the stories themselves (apart from a cute cameo in one of the stories) but it shows a nice amount of effort in differentiating the two volumes and felt like a nice welcome back, despite a changed setting. It recaptured that sense of newness and comfort all at once and offers a nice spine for the collection. The stories themselves also have a different feel to them than the last volume. It seems that editor Felipe Cargo has taken what worked best about the last volume and tried to expand on that, while not shying away from doing more experimental stuff. There’s more of the fun, charming stories I loved last time, including the return of the Panda, with stories like The Milnet Incident and Point of View though there’s also quite a few stories that play on these expectations. While the last collection offered lots of variety, you could usually tell what sort of story it would be in the first page, funny or scary or whatever. Here though often the stories can subvert your expectations by meshing genres together. Some like Wanted: Dead or Alive lure you in with the charming, simple style of the sillier stories, before hitting you with a slightly twisted ending. It’s  great way to keep you on your toes while reading, the writers seem to be more comfortable with the format so are able to come up with more varied twists. While not all of them hit and some left me with a “wait what..?” rather than a “wait! what!?” it’s definitely worth it for the ones that do hit. I can’t remember any two twists being the same in this one, which is hugely impressive given the amount of stories in the collection.

What impressed me most however is how much  more enjoyable some of the more ambitious stories are. While last time the stories with the biggest scopes could often feel incomplete or frustrating, here they actually come off as inspiring. Stories like Maintenance Hero or Replacement Parts follow the same sort of formula as the rest, yet there’s so much world building hidden among the three pages that add to the story. Last time this annoyed me, as it felt like they had a lot of great ideas, but no space. Here though, it almost feels like it tasks the reader to put the pieces together and explore this world on their own. It’s a hard difference to describe, but it makes the stories feel much longer than their 3 pages. It also grants the stories a lot of reread value, as you examine every pannel looking for more details you missed. For such sort stories, they certainly packed a lot in, leading to a lot more potential now that they can be a bit more explorative. The book also starts packing some more horror into the collection, something I don’t remember too much of in the last one. This ends up working really well, and in fact lead to my favourite story, My Brother… (even if it does break the rules a little by arguably having two twists). It’s just great to see chances being taken with the format rather than playing it safe and sticking to what they know. The fact that a collection like this can have so much content and still keep me excited to see what comes next all the way to the end is a huge achievement.

I’d me remiss if I also didn’t mention how absolutely gorgeous the collection is. There’s not a single story in this that isn’t beautiful to behold, and also no two stories that look alike. There’s a lot of varied styles throughout, each of which fit their stories perfectly. Special shout out goes to Rogério Coelho for the hauntingly beautiful Sanctuary, though throughout the collection there’s a whole host of artistic talent that it’s impossible to mention everyone. This really is a book you have to witness for yourself, I was constantly excited what sort of new art style was ahead of me when I got to a new story.

Overall, this is definitely a worthy follow up to the original. The collection kept me smiling all the way to the end, keeping a level of charm, wit and quality that should be impossible to maintain. Throughout it all the book hooked me with a “just one more story..” feeling all the way to the very end. While the stories themselves are subject to the reader’s personal tastes, a book that offers water zombies, cars with an appetite, vengeful squids and a childlike sense of wonder is certainly going to have something for everyone. Whether or not you’ve read the first volume, this is definitely something that should be on your radar, you won’t regret it.


About the Author

Josh McCullough

A writer at WTN Josh is a huge comic fan whose tastes edge towards the strange and surreal. If there's one thing he loves more than comics then it's Doctor who. Never try and argue with him that there's a better doctor than Sylvester McCoy. Any fedoras that would make good press hats should be sent to his PO Box.