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Headlines   2004 Review Index   Aug 7, 2004
Suspended Animation

Michael Vance

Mark Allen

Michael Vance Books

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Table for One

      Almost.

      Table for One is a graphic novel about one evening in the life of the owner, staff, and customers of a restaurant. No super-heroes, no super-villains, no spandex, no latex: hurray!!!

      Almost.

      Will is the egotistic, handsome nephew of the restaurantís grossly overweight owner (who looks much like the villain The Kingpin from Daredevil Comics) and the protagonist of the evening.

      You will almost like him.

      You will almost hate every other character. In fact, if this graphic novel is meant to be a microcosm of life (and I believe it is), life stinks. Why?

      Every character, including Will, is selfish, dishonest, miserable, and pro-fane. Theirs is an unrelentingly dark, nasty, physically and spiritually violent, dog-eat-dog world. But there is some good in the real world, and this story needs some good.

      Dialog in Fawstinís world comes close to ringing true, but almost every page is laced with profanity and too many characters are too consciously clever in their conversations. There is some pun in the real world, but this story needs less *%!@%# and less pun.

      The artistís minimalist art is almost excellent and reminiscent of master artist Alex Tothís style. Minimalism means no visual detail is included unless necessary to the story. Almost excellent means that some characters are barely doodles.

      In addition, Fawstinís staging bears little resemblance to reality because he over-works clever angles and visual gimmicks meant to make mundane scenes visually interesting. As example, in one panel Willís angry expression is seen through a rectangle literally cut out of his uncle whose back is to the reader. Too much obvious staging destroys a readerís suspension of disbelief.

      Almost every comment on every aspect of Table for One seems slightly negative. Does that mean that this graphic novel is not worth reading?

      No.

      Table for One is almost recommended.

      Table for One/86 pgs. & $9.95 from Main Spring Comics/written and drawn by Bosch Fawstin/sold in comics stores and at www.boschfawstin.com.

     Review by Michael Vance


Aquaman

      I believe it's saying something when a creative team can get you to take a long look at a character who has never intrigued you. As of issue 15, D.C.'s Aquaman has that distinction with me.

      A devastating earthquake causes part of San Diego to break off into the ocean. Obviously, many are dead and injured...but, there's something else. Many survivors remain, not only on land, but in the sea, as well. People suddenly able to live and breathe under water?  What's up with that?  A conundrum, to be sure, but one which D.C.'s resident King of Atlantis sets out to solve, straight away.

      What is entertaining about this series, begins with the daring disaster, itself. Pages two and three of issue 15 are pure shock value that I won't give away to potential readers; let's just say it gets things off to an interesting start. Not to mention that it takes nerve to instigate such a major change on our national map, even in comics. Second, said issue sets up a great mystery with the new water breathers, toward it's end. It's done in a very clever, entertaining fashion. My hat is off to writer Will Pfeifer, not just for the concept, but for Aquaman's "dark-for-a-reason" character. No longer a product of the '90's "antihero" craze, the lead character is understandably morose, in the face of real horror. A tearful "Oh, the humanity!" seems more than appropriate.

      Artist Patrick Gleason's strength seems to be in expression. With a story that has such potential to elicit strong emotion, he has a fine grasp of the wide-eyed horror, grim-faced determination, pure shock, etc., the tale needs. Any artist who can make the reader feel what the character feels is good for the story. Patrick Gleason is good for Aquaman.

      Aquaman is suggested for all but the youngest readers, and for those who like drama, disaster stories, and just a little super hero-type action tossed in.

      Aquaman, published by D.C. Comics, 32 pages, $2.50.

      Review by Mark Allen


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