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

Check-out Michael Vance Comic books for sale


July 7, 1999

Reviews in this issue:

Heart of EmpireJustice Society Revival

 

Heart of Empire

  If incredible, insightful' and junk are synonyms in your dictionary, you will not agree with this review of Heart of Empire, a nine issue reprint of a "classic" English comic book.

Why? 

Because its art is incredible, its prose is insightful and its content is junk, and those words are decidedly not all synonyms for wonderful.

Heart is a complicated, layered dissection of history, society, religion and politics from many British eras. Both visually and verbally satirical, it requires a solid grounding in English lore to catch all the humor evident in almost every phrase and pen stroke.

It is fascinating, farcical, fantasy, friend.

Along with being extremely well written tightly plotted and timed with believable and witty dialogue, the characters in Heart are fully developed and intriguing.

That is a blessing.

The art is incredible. Distinctive, clean, visual storytelling is further strengthened by accurate anatomy, real variety in faces and body types, and some of the best, wildly imaginative and yet reality-based city scenes in any comic since the comic strip Little Nemo in Wonderland. It can best be summarized by one word.

Wow.

What? Are these not the Standards by which Suspended Animation recommends the best in comic books and strips to adults? 

Well, two out of three ain't bad. But the third standard is content, and three really stinks.

And that is not a blessing.

Heart is an "adult" comic book in the best and worst sense of adult. At its best, it explores the complexity of life as an adult in a very complex world At its worst, it exploits graphic nudity, perverse sex, drugs, violence, a juvenile obsession with body functions, and lies and profanity.

It exploits the worst in human nature to sell itself while satirizing the worst in human nature.

Boo.

Readers will either love or hate this series.

Reviewed by Michael Vance

Heart of Empire l-3 (of 9)/35 pgs. & $2.95 ea. From Dark Horse/written & drawn by Bryan Talbot/sold in comics shops and by mail.


Justice Society Revival

I recently commented on DC Comic's revival of the Justice Society of America. Part of the buildup has been both in new continuous series and short series. Some are better than others.

The most elaborate so far is a three issue series, Doctor Mid-nite, written by Matt Wagner and drawn by John Snyder. (In some places, the name is spelled Midnite. (Why publishers persist in these illiteracies has always puzzled me.) 

Since the original Dr. Midnite perished in DC's Zero Hour series, a new version comes as no surprise. This version is far more grim than the 1940's character, but the original's pet owl has been reinserted. Fans of the original should consult The Justice Society Returns for an explanation of Dr. Midnite's fondness for such an odd mascot.

The original Midnite reappeared in 1964 in a Justice League-Justice Society story. Those new to the character were astounded to learn that there had been a blind hero long before Marvel's Daredevil. The characters were not that similar and Marvel stated that no one there even remembered Dr. Midnite or copied him.

At $5.95 each, this title seems pricey, but it will be essential for those who collect anything related to the Justice Society.

On a lighter note is Stars and ST.R.I.P.E., a reworking of the Star- Spangled Kid and his chauffeur Stripesy. (Were any characters ever more poorly named?) The original Stripesy now uses the S.T.R.I.P.E. robot to supervise a female version of the Kid. Issue 0 has sections in a cartoonish style and others in a traditional superhero style. I'll suspend judgment temporarily, but that robot has to go.

Closely connected to the revival of the Justice Society is Hourman. This android version of the 1940's hero Iron resembles Marvel's Iron Man and Vision The first four issues are very complex and use time travel paradoxes rather freely. Tom Peyer, the writer, may have to broaden Hourman's activities.

Hourman and Doctor Midnite get A's; a B- for the Kid.

Reviewed by Dr. Jon Suter


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