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The magnificent FLIGHT anthology gives birth to its first “child” with FLIGHT EXPLORER, a shorter anthology from many of the usual FLIGHT creators aimed at the younger audience. Now, that may sound a bit strange, and nothing in the first four FLIGHT volumes actually contained sex, graphic violence, or bad language, so you might be wondering how EXPLORER would be different. I think the easiest way to explain it is that this book contains some simpler storytelling. Some of the bits in the main series can be a little obtuse in their storytelling or require a taste for existentialism. Here, we pare away those stories and come up with ten short tales easy enough for the youth set to follow.

And as per usual for FLIGHT, they’re pretty damned good. Editorial director Kazu Kibuishi contributes a nifty “Copper” tale, Kean Soo drops a new “Jellaby” bit, both which you’d expect to be good, but it’s stuff like Johane Matte’s “Egyptian Cat: Perfect Cat” that really brings the goods to the table, along with Steve Hamaker’s “Fish N Chips.” There were a couple of bits towards the back that didn’t quite work for me, but not the ten stories is an out-and-out dud.

My one concern about FLIGHT EXPLORER is whether or not doing these additional books will spread the “brand” too thin. The annual release of FLIGHT is something that fans eagerly look forward to, and I’d hate to see some of that enthusiasm eroded away. That’s something that Kibuishi and company will have to keep an eye on, but for now, they have another winner on their hands.

Marc Mason