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X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan Volume 1 Hardcover – September 21, 2010
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This is the January 30 1967 to August 30 1969 continuity, together with an introduction to the strip by the wonderful artist and Raymond/Crandall/Williamson heir Mark Schultz (of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs fame) plus an essay on X-9/Corrigan by Bruce Canwell.
The book needs an index, but basically there are 12 stories here, which aren't marked in any way; for convenience I am creating my own chapter headings:
Chapter 1, 'Operation: Marina Vladcheck' kicks off the strips (page 10.) The beautiful Marina is a scientific defector to the West who, chafing under the tight security demanded by her position, plays hooky - unfortunately at the same time that kidnappers are plotting to abduct her for sale to a foreign power. It's a decent thriller with fast pacing and hair's breadth escapes. Williamson employs halftone screens here which are OK, but don't quite suit his artwork.
Chapter 2, 'Crime Camp' is introduced on page 29 but doesn't really start 'til p 30. Phil follows the trail of wanted criminal Leroy Burke, which leads him to a Caribbean retreat where crooks, and Corrigan, get more than they bargained for. Reminiscent of The Avengers "Escape in Time" episode, it's an OK entry in the "villainous woman falls in love with the hero" formula. The art is Williamson at the top of his form.
Chapter 3, 'The Inheritance of Cheryl Falcone' is introduced in the last frame of page 53 and starts on page 54.Read more ›
Lackluster writing killed this wonderfully-produced book for me, not the illustrator or publisher's fault. Loath as I am to speak ill of the dead, if X-9 SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN had had a decent writer like Dashiell Hammett instead of accomplished hack Archie Goodwin my review would be different. Visual stimuli aplenty, but boring boring boring stories.
If you're content looking at the pictures, go for it, but if you need to exercise your brain reading some interesting fiction then I must advise caveat emptor.
Williamson's classic style, influenced in equal parts by classic illustrators like Alex Raymond and classic cinema, keeps the visuals interesting and exciting. His use of light and shadows, as well as his ability to keep his camera moving, is showcased well by the comic strip format, where he can't rely on clever layouts across the page. (Not that Williamson was ever an artist to rely on flashy gimmicks.)
Together, he and Goodwin take Corrigan through a wide variety of adventures in a wide variety of settings. The action comes fast and furious, and there isn't a clunker in the bunch.
Highly recommended for lovers of fun stories and fine art.
Yes, Williamson's art was -- still *is* -- better than most, well and truly in the tradition of Alex Raymond (one of the creators of this strip 30 years earlier). And Goodwin's dialogue is crisp and professional.
The problem is the stories themselves, strictly paint-by-the-numbers plotting. Corrigan gets into a jam, punches or shoots his way out of trouble, and the last panel sets up more of the same ad infinitum. Barring the formidable Mrs. Murkley there are no recurring villains, and there isn't even much of a supporting cast. ('District Chief' Tom Ross has a few cameos, and Corrigan's wife, Wilda, gets scarcely more screen time than Ross.)
Goodwin and Williamson must have picked up the pace since they carried the strip for over a dozen years, and the book is well worth picking up for Williamson's art alone. (Neal Adams stepped in for a week in the time covered in this volume; Stanley Pitt, less successfully, for two and a half months.)
I am buying the next in the series but if you are new to the Library of American Comics 'Terry and the Pirates' is probably the best introduction to the classic American newspaper adventure strip.
As for the production quality it is pure Library of American Comics, which is to say typically excellent.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Al Williamson is (was) fantastic and this work shows his growth over the course of the series. Worth every penny to see this gorgeous art.Published 1 month ago by Mark S.
Al Williamson produced consistent artwork in the "photorealistic" style with the figures in good proportion, nice progression of action from one panel to the next and good... Read morePublished on July 4, 2014 by Sketch19
If you have any interest in James Bond style super spy stories, then this is the book for you. Writer Archie Goodwin and artist Al Williamson were at the absolute top of their game... Read morePublished on August 17, 2013 by Jeffrey W. Lucas
A fantastic book collection of vintage comics strips unfortunately in b&w. Well, nothing's perfect in this world. Read morePublished on May 26, 2013 by danny boy
It's hard for me to believe that in all of my years of comics-strip reading, Secret Agent X-9 never crossed my path.
That mistake has now been corrected. Read more
WOW! Finally, this came in reprint. I have read some of the stories earlier in 1970s and 1980s as a comic book but this was much better view of the artist and the stories. Read morePublished on December 23, 2010 by A123
Of all American comic illustrators, I like Al Williamson the best. His remarkable drawing skill is a highlight not only in the golden era of comic strips but also in the timeline... Read morePublished on December 11, 2010 by Freddy Kasenda