Suspended Animation
Suspended Animation
by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter

Check-out Michael Vance Comic books for sale


February 17, 1999

Reviews in this issue:

Batman/Hellboy/Starman
Groo & Rufferto
Superman for All Seasons & Superman: the Doomsday Wars


Batman/Hellboy/Starman

    Dear Editor,

    It is true that I am a sucker for Mike Mignola's art. And, although I've only read the first of two issues of Dark Horses' co-published venture with DC Comics, Batman/Hellboy/Starman, I consider its 32 pages well worth my $2.50.

    Mignola's minimilistic art and visual storytelling are so streamlined and precise. His characters look like they were quickly molded out of slabs of clay, and I like that. I suspect even the coloring is a conscious design element as he pencils each page since it works so well fulfill, to complete the finished art.

    I am a big fan of his demon, Hellboy, as well. So this new mini- series promised an exciting read even before I opened the book. It is a promised realized.

    That Batman would need Hellboy's expertise in the supernatural is also a nice touch by writer James Robinson. Robinson seems to understand Mignola's art, and his writing is also precise and his dialogue is believable.

    The inclusion of the original Starman, now semi-retired and about to reveal the power of his 'cosmic' rod for use as an alternate source of energy, is the icing on the cake. It is obvious that the segue to the current Starman will be clean and logical as all team to battle a cult of supernatural, Neo-Nazi 'skinheads'.

    This mini-series has everything to recommend it and nothing that detracts from it. I look forward to the second issue and hope this isn't the only teaming of these characters or this creative team.

    In a word, Batman/Hellboy/Starman is excellent.

    -- Michael Vance


990216.jpg (24105 bytes) Groo & Rufferto

MINIVIEW: Groo & Rufferto [Dark Horse] Groo (the Conan parody) stumbles into yet another dilemma with a greedy king and his impoverished people as Rufferto (his dog) stumbles into the future. Hopefully Rufferto will find another formula because the present one, despite excellent art and words, is wearing thin. -- Michael Vance


Superman for All Seasons & Superman: the Doomsday Wars

A pervasive theme in the career of Superman has been the impact of his upbringing in the rural community of Smallville, Kansas. Numerous writers at DC Comics have played with how different upbringing might have affected the Kryptonian's career.

I remember speculative stories in the 1950s on the infant being reared by gangsters or totalitarian dictators. In recent months, there were "Elseworld" stories about an Amish ("JLA: the Nail") and an Apolalyptic ("Superman: the Dark Side") upbringings.

Two recent DC mini-series have utilized the Smallville years as a major element. The two series differ radically in terms of art and script, yet are similar.

The four issues of "Superman for All Seasons" explain how the nave farm boy adapted to life in Metropolis and the pressures of public acclaim. Jeph Loeb's script is remarkably subtle and is the best part of the series.

Tim Sale's art is appropriately simple, although it may not be to everyone's taste. The thing about Sale's art that bothers me is the massiveness of young Clark Kent. The intent is to portray him as a gentle giant, but the proportions are too massive in relation to other characters. In some scenes, one wonders why Clark is not regarded as a freak.

Each issue is told from a different viewpoint: Pa Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luther and Lana Lang. The four narrators parallel the four seasons implied in the title.

The climax comes with a massive flood which threatens Smallville. A similar disaster, a gigantic blizzard, is the backdrop of the three issues of "Superman: the Doomsday Wars". The memory of the blizzard is a constant reminder that Superman has sometimes failed to protect those he loves the most.

Dan Jurgens gives us another desperate battle against Doomsday, Superman's most dangerous enemy. There are numerous parallels to the legendary battle when Superman died, but Doomsday is much more dangerous this time.

While different, both series offer insights to Superman's psychology. Rated A.

-- Dr. Jon Suter


    Questions? Comments? A comic you wish reviewed? Write: 1427 S. Delaware Ave., Tulsa, OK, 74104. Or email c/o starland@starland.com.

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