Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

The most-circulated and longest-running comics review column in America
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Review Index 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998
 
Tom Strong
Tom Strong     Raised on a tropical island by his father, a brilliant scientist, Tom Strong was meant to be the perfect human specimen. Separated from the influences of society, and conditioned to be physically and mentally superior, he grows into a walking, talking, villain-beating bastion of scientific achievement.

     With the addition of his beautiful island-native wife, and feisty teenaged daughter, they become Millennium City's protectors and beloved first family. Such is the premise of Tom Strong: Book One, the trade paperback collection of the first seven issues of the series published by America's Best Comics.

     Series writer Alan Moore may be one of the most prolific talents in the industry. This is the same man who wrote some of the creepiest, and most macabre comics ever done with his Swamp Thing work in the eighties; yet Tom Strong is almost...light-hearted, despite the malevolent inclinations of some of the villains.

     Moore has also created something that could be enjoyed by long-time comic fans, as well as new readers.

     Those familiar with comics' Golden Age will see it's influences within the pages. Those who are not, however, will simply find a great story with self-contained history, all laid out before them.

     This book also features some of the most talented artists in comics today, which makes it a veritable feast for the eyes. Arthur Adams, Gary Frank, Dave Gibbons, and Jerry Ordway all lend their talents to help round out this spectacular collection.

     Oh, and the series' regular artist, Chris Sprouse, reveals his spectacular talent, as well. I enjoy Chris' style, especially the way he represents the main character; more thick and barrel-chested, the way some of the Silver Age artists used to draw Superman. This gives the character a more realistic appearance than most super heroes, drawn like cut/ripped body-builders.

     Tom Strong: Book One can be found at comic shops, some bookstores, tradeshows, and online catalogs.

     This book is highly recommended.

     Tom Strong: Book One, published by America's Best Comics, 206 pages, $14.95.

     Review by Mark Allen

 
Amazing High Adventure

Amazing High Adventure      Back in the mid-eighties, Marvel Comics published a five-issue series that gathered some of the best talent the industry has ever seen.  Huge talents such as Mike Baron, Steve Englehart, Mike Mignola, John and Marie Severin, Val Mayerik, Mark Wheatley, Al Williamson, Bill Mantlo, Steve Bissette and John Bolton collaborated on this project, aptly entitled Amazing High Adventure.  This was a project that, I believe, would be considered a major undertaking in comics today, yet almost never seems sought out or reviewed by anyone.  Why is that?  Well, let's look at some reasons why it should be sought out.

      Diversity of subject material.  Stories from Napoleonic times, 19th-century American West, and the American Revolution share page-space with tales of early paleontology, modern-day Indonesia, and Genghis Kahn's unification of Mongolia.Diversity of art-styles.  I could just put a "see above" indicator here, but it's worth pointing out again that the cream of the artistic crop is represented within these pages. 

      From the beautiful,finely-painted style of Bolton to the sketchy, yet very detailed pencil/ink work of Alan Weiss, as well as the highly-expressive and "spooky" work of Steve (Swamp Thing) Bissette, the series is an eye-popping cornucopia of wonderful art.

      Amazing High Adventure is highly-recommended for readers of all ages who love great stories, beautiful artwork and..., well..., high adventure.  Find it at your nearest comic shop, comic conventions, or online auctions.  Can't find a shop near you?  Call 1-888-comicbook.

      Amazing High Adventure, published by Marvel Comics, 48 pages, $2.00.

      Review by Mark Allen

 
Hey, Wait... by Jason

Hey, Wait... by Jason      MINI-REVIEW: Hey, Wait... by Jason, published by Fantagraphics Books, 68 pages, $9.95. A vast departure from most comic fare, Hey, Wait chronicles the life of a child-to-manhood character and the depressing turns it takes.  Simplistic in art-style and storytelling, the book also communicates a very simple message; life can stink.  This is not an overly-entertaining work, in my opinion, nor a good example of what heights the medium can reach.  It is not recommended for children due to profanity and nudity.

      Review by Mark Allen

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