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

Check-out Michael Vance Comic books for sale


June 9, 1999

Reviews in this issue:

Nathan Never - Dylan Dog #2 - Family Strips


Nathan Never

A space lab orbiting Melpomene is discovered with everyone aboard slaughtered in a bloodbath.

Everyone but one man.

If substituting a ship in an English harbor for that space lab makes the opening scene in Nathan Never sound familiar, congratulations. You know classic horror literature.
That survivor is brought to a hospital where another patient loves to eat flies. If you guessed his name is Renfield, then you will also suspect that his issue of Nathan Never is a retelling of Dracula set in the future.

I would give you a cigar, but I am told smoking is naughty.

Naughty is another characteristic of Nathan Never that separates it from other Bonelli titles. Inside is a stronger but subtle sexuality missing from the other titles published by this Italian company, and nudity is no stranger to its pages.

Never shares some very important characteristics with Dylan Dog and Martin Mystery, both recently reviewed in Suspended Animation.

It is well written and fast paced, characters are fully realized, and dialog is crisp and believable. It lacks profanity, and will interest adults.

It is well drawn. The artist focuses on visually telling the story without attracting attention to itself. The characters are visually distinctive, and pacing and staging are flawless and dynamic. The artist shies away from unnecessary gore and excessive and graphic violence.
That this retelling of the most famous vampire tale is extremely well done won't lessen your disappointment that there are no surprises after about page five. Nevertheless, Never is recommended for adults.

Reviewed by Michael Vance


Dylan Dog #2

The second of six issues of Dylan Dog, from Dark Horse Comics, is astonishing, emotionally powerful, and adult in the true meaning of that misused word. This tragic story of an abandoned, severely handicapped young boy is possibly the best comic book published in the last five years. Buy it.

Reviewed by Michael Vance


Family Strips

Comic strips have derived much of their humor from the American family, particularly from the interaction of adults and children. George McManus's Bringing Up Father, Chic Young's Blondie and Mort Walker's Hi and Lois are among the many family strips that are part of American folklore.  

As the structure of the family has changed, comic strips have reflected those changes. Widows and widowers were found in numerous older strips, but divorced parents were rate. Now they are featured prominently.  

Brook McEldowney's 9 Chickweed Lane features a divorced biology professor, her adolescent daughter, and a crotchety grandmother. Fantasy is a frequent theme; the daughter, a would-be ballerina, sometimes dreams of being a butterfly or Stupendous Girl. Her mother prefers a jungle fantasy in which she is Panther Woman.  

The supporting cast is small but effective, particularly Sister Caligula, the long suffering principal of the daughter's school. There are no reprint volumes and they are badly needed. The art is remarkably uncluttered.  

Another new strip is Mark Tatulli's Heart of the City. Heart is a precocious child who fancies herself a reincarnation of Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind. The strip has tackled dilemmas facing modern families; e.g. attention deficit disorder and a working mother whose time at home is so limited that the babysitter is a rival for Heart's affection. This strip has vast potential as a blend of humor and pathos. Again, no reprints are available.  

Fantasy is a key ingredient in Chickweed and Heart but this is not a new element in family comics. Pat Brady's Rose is Rose has been going for fifteen years and fantasy is an essential part of its charm.  

There are three reprint volumes available. The latest, Rose is Rose 15th Anniversary Edition, shows how far Brady has come since the strip's creation. The Gumbo family's adventures are drawn in a dazzling variety of perspectives. Brady has to be one of the more creative comic strip artists of our time.

Reviewed by Dr. Jon Suter


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