Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Complete Aztec Ace!

It was a great pleasure to at long last read the full run of Doug Moench's Aztec Ace from Eclipse. I was an Indy fan when this book debuted from Eclipse but soon had to draw back in because of family responsibilities and financial obligations. One cannot justify getting expensive (at the time) comic when the wife and child need to taken care of. I could've filled in the collection at anytime, but never did. But when I saw that Dark Horse had reprinted the complete run with a few extras I was intrigued. That is until I saw the asking price of $79.99 -- too much for idle curiosity I thought. Then I found the book for half that and jumped. I'm very happy I did for this is a very intriguing read. I won't suggest it's a complete epic, because the reader is left with a number of questions after all is read and done. But that's to be expected of a series this densely packed with details and motivations which doesn't reach its natural ending. 

Aztec Ace is a time traveler from the 23rd century who operates out of a base hidden in the world of the Aztecs in the 14th century. The funniest detail is that he uses the accumulated slime from slugs to power his time travel devices. He hooks up with a woman named Bridget Kronopoulous from 1940 and they fall in love. But first she has to die. Later they take a swing at a bogus Ben Franklin and a fake Cleopatra among others. There are appearances by the real Amelia Earhart, Glenn Miller and Ambrose Bierce. They have an ally hidden in a head shop in 1969 and another who is a detached head who sounds like Sigmund Freud. They make sure that Galileo's work survives. They battle strange creatures called "Gaunts" which serve the whims of a man behind a gas mask named Nine-Crocodiles who rules a land isolated from time itself. The latter has a wife named Shakreen who gives birth to a baby, but the baby might the child of Aztec Ace himself. Aztec (or Caza as he's called) pretends to be a number of things including a Mummy and a bonafide Golden Age superhero. There is no way to fully explain all that goes on in this series without creating a vast network of cross-referenced entries with deep annotations. The series rewards dealing with the complexity by treating the reader as an adult. 

Doug Moench's scripts are dense and require a reader's full attention, but that's worth the effort. The artwork is by a number of talented chaps including Mike Hernandez who does the first two issues another later on, and Ron Harris who lays out several issues late in the run. Tom Yeates sneaks in toward the end of the series and I assume we'd have seen more from him if it had continued. (His cover rendition of Cleopatra in the penultimate issue is a stunner.) But the core of the art is done by Dan Day who offers up sterling and ornate artwork ideally suited to the tone of the book. Nestor Redondo is on hand to give the series a solid look with is masterful inks. Mike Gustovich steps in to ink later issues with great results. 

Below are the covers for the full run. Also included in the collection is a single story from Total Eclipse. 

It's a lot of money for a collection. But if you can find it for less like I did, I highly recommend it. It was nice to time travel back to the 80's again, if even for a little while. 

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  1. Like yourself I didn't pick this series up, in my case this was due to my lack of interest in adventure and superhero comics (with a few exceptions) at the time. That said, it was nice to see the covers to a comic that attracted a lot of interest from fanzines in the 1980s.
    I enjoyed reading the info on the character as I had thought AE was simply an Indiana Jones type hero.As you say it's a pretty pricey collection .

    1. Yep. I'd have had an impossible time justifying it, if it hadn't been reduced. It's hard to throw that much money at unproven stuff. But it's nice when it proves to be worth it.

  2. I had no idea this wonderful series had been collected! Thanks to your blog, I'm ordering a copy today. Can't wait to reacquaint myself with these stories again. :)