In Review: The Phoenix Colossal Comics Collection, Volume One

A sumptuous collection of silliness that will create all form of giggles, chuckles, and chortles.

The Phoenix Colossal Comics Collection, Volume One by various

Published by Scholastic on March 27, 2018. Paperback of 208 pages at $14.99. Intended for ages 8 – 12, grades 3 – 7.

Note: I read an advanced copy so anything may have changed by publication.

The cover: The artwork is by Neill Cameron, with the design by Paul Duffield and Phil Falco. Exploding from a treasure chest, which sits in a mound of shiny gold coins, ancient weapons, and a tentacle, are characters found in this collection, including the cast of Trailblazers, Monkey, Bunny, Evil Emperor Penguin, Doug Slugman, and members of the Squid Squad. The characters look great and the colors are bold. The title is an instant eye catcher with the yellow reflective rays from the treasure backlighting it. This is a great tease of a cover. Overall grade: A 

The premise: From the back cover, “LAUGHS, TEARS, THRILLS! OOOH, THAT SOUNDS NICE. SQUIDS, PENGUINS, T. REXES! WAIT…WHAT? EVIL PENGUINS BENT ON TAKING OVER THE WORLD! SLUG PRIVATE DETECTIVES! TERRIFYING KITTENS! I’M CONFUSED…Don’t be, fair reader! It’s The Phoenix Colossal Comics Collection: Volume One! Arriving on our shores to take over your brain is a buffet table bind-up of fun comics for you to enjoy. From milk-snorting humor to ‘whoa, what was that?!’ adventure, to fascinating facts and brain-teasing puzzles, this collection is a comics smorgasbord for all readers to love.” I’ve read three books that Scholastic has printed from The Phoenix: Bunny vs. Monkey (two volumes) and Evil Emperor Penguin. I’ve enjoyed them and welcome reading more of their exploits, as well as others I haven’t encountered from The Phoenix. Overall grade: A

The comics: Tailblazers by Robert Deas is split into three chapters in this collection, with the other comics dividing them. This is a straight forward science fiction adventure with Troy Tailblazer as the lead. He’s a youthful leader of a group of three friends, including Jess, a much smarter individual, Barrus, the hairy alien muscle, and Blip, the floating robotic sidekick. Power outages lead to an intergalactic threat that become a monstrous threat that wants to take Troy down. The story has got some good beats and the illustrations are outstanding. This long tale could easily be a book unto itself. Two of my favorite Phoenix books have been Bunny vs. Monkey by Jamie Smart. The evil Monkey and his cohorts try to make things rough for Bunny and his friends. The stories are sheer lunacy, cuteness, and hilarity. The artwork is fantastic. I will always welcome more tales of Bunny vs. Monkey. The surprise hit for me in this collection was Doug Slugman P.I. by Joe List. These are one page gags usually comprised of eight panels that have punchlines that are bizarre and funny, accompanied by visuals that similar to the television series Adventure Time. l will now seek out more of Doug Slugman and Joe List. I’ve read a collection of Evil Emperor Penguin by Laura Ellen Anderson last year and there are twenty-two new pages of the bad bird. My favorite storyline involved the character being captured by a more evil penguin. Plus, Eugene is such a fantastic character. Squid Squad! by Dan Boultwood has three small squids doing what they can to protect “Octopolis from evil commotion.” This is cute with three wannabe heroes, but it didn’t do much for me. I was floored to see that Jamie Smart has a second Phoenix series titled Looshkin, who is the maddest cat in the world. These stories are as fun as Bunny vs. Monkey. Sign me up for more Smart! Appearing intermittently are Squid Bits by Jess Bradley. These are usually five gags on a single page that are wonderfully silly with excellent art. The jokes are the kind that anyone will read and then stop and think too long about what they’ve just read, yet still laugh. Overall grade: A

The final line: A sumptuous collection of silliness that will create every and all form of giggles, chuckles, and chortles. I don’t care how old you, this is universally funny. There are many different styles of art in this collection and all are visually engaging and pleasing. I’m happy to see that Scholastic is planning on publishing two of these collections a year, guaranteeing to keep readers, and reviews, laughing. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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