Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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Secret Messages

      Flying Saucers are a silly pleasure of mine. They don't exist, but I love them. Film Noir gumshoe detectives fall into the same category. So, how do I resist Secret Messages, the newest title in a four-story-arc comic book about a stubble-jawed detective in search of 1950s spaceships and aliens?

      I don't.

      Secret Messages joins Silent Invasion, Suburban Nightmares and New Frontier as my latest silly, and highly entertaining, pleasure.

      The visual answer to why is its art. There is nothing like it being published today, and that in itself is an amazing accomplishment. Artist Michael Cherkas has created a moody, minimalistic and chunky style with thick lines and broad areas of contrasting black that is entertaining, technically flawless, and un-imitated by his peers. In addition, Cherkas seems to effortlessly recapture the decade of the 1950s through illustrating its fashions, architecture, and gadgets.

      The other answer to why is its plot, characterization and '50s dialog, all by Larry Hancock. Ya see, in 1959, a reporter named Matt Sinkage tried to kill a candidate for the position of President of the United States. He believed the candidate was a pawn of a clandestine government organization that "was about to allow an alien invasion of Earth".

But FBI agent Phil Housley killed Sinkage. Now, it is 1965, Housley is a PI, and guess what's back.

      Flying saucers.

      Phil is hired to find a missing husband. But what he may find instead was shot by his own Roscoe (that's Film Noir for gun) in 1959.

      If this sounds like television's X-Files, this story arc both predates that series, and lacks the confusion and silliness that has plagued X-Files for many seasons.

      Comic books don't get much better than this. That is why Secret Messages and its sister titles are highly re-commended.

      Secret Messages #s 1 & 2/$2.95 & 23 pgs. from NBM Pub./available in comics and book shops and at www.nbmpublishing.com.

      Review by Michael Vance

  

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