Suspended Animation Suspended Animation
by Michael Vance & Jon Suter

June 19, 1998

Reviews in this issue:

Stormbringer #1 - All-Access

Stormbringer #1

980626a.jpg (26424 bytes)Stormbringer #1/28pgs. & $2.95 from Dark Horse and Topps Comics/drawn and adapted from Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone by P. Craig Russell and Julie E. Gassaway/available at comics shops and by mail.

Someday, your prince will come. He’ll come because a small but hardcore group of fans refuse to let the fantasy genre die.

Genre is french for "a type of" and fantasy is a type of story with princes, damsels in distress, exotic settings, monsters, magic and very flowery language. That's because fantasy is not… well, reality.

Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are fantasy. Stormbringer, however, is not. Stormbringer is an epic fantasy.

This adaptation of the fantasy novels of Michael Moorcock is not fantasy on the scale of T.RR. Tolkien's hobbit books.

It is smaller, much less imaginative and closer in style to Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast movie.

Nor is it fantasy on the level of television's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It is more adult than that.

Stormbringer is a magic sword and Elric is an albino prince who will use the sword to rescue his wife who is stolen away by demons.

Stormbringer is also the wonderfully distinctive art of P. Craig Russell which is actually more distinctive than the story. It is a minimalistic art that uses color instead of extra lines to flesh out detail. It may remind you of poster art: broad, simple, very design conscious, and interesting.

Interestingly enough, both fantasy and Russell's art are not to everyone's tastes, like wine or artichokes or anchovies. As example, I Like Cinderella better than I like Elric. I like the style of minimalist artist Alex Toth more than I like Russells' art (although the genre of most of Toth's work colors my taste in his favor).

That doesn't mean that this comic book is poor.

It just means that, on subjective level my sweet dreams are not made of this.


The recent "DC versus Marvel" comics mini-series was successful enough to spawn a sequel with the curious name "All-Access." The four issues start on a low key and build to typical massive confrontations.

In many ways, the first three issues are better than the final fourth. The premise of the series is that the equilibrium of DC and Marvel universes established in the first series is crumbling and only the hero known as Access can restore order. He suspects that Marvel's sorcerer, Dr. Strange, has crucial knowledge of what is happening, but that question is not resolved until the final issue.

The first issue features a battle between DC's Superman and Marvel's Venom. The key to Venom's early success is Superman's total unfamiliarity with Venom's powers and tactics. Virtue triumphs.

The second issue features DC's Robin and Marvel's Jubilee on a trans-universe date. Their battle with Batman's enemy, Two-Face, is well done. The relationship of Robin and Jubilee could be the basis for future crossover stories. We are spared the heavy angst of other comics romances.

The third issue pits Batman against Marvel's Scorpion, a veteran villain from "Amazing SpiderMan." That battle leads to Batman's confrontation with Dr. Strange which leads to a confrontation of Marvel's X-Men and DC’s Justice League of America. Since there was no such battle in the first miniseries, fans obviously demanded one.

With so many characters tearing up scenery, there is no space for the well-planned combats of the first three issues. Some of the pairings are worth further development: Aquaman and Iceman, Flash and Cannonball. The less said about DC, Martian Manhunter and Marvel Girl the better.

The Amalgamated Universe of the first series reappears briefly and there is a strong hint that it will continue to appear as will crossovers between Marvel and DC. This is reminiscent of the Justice League/Justice Society stories (DC. 1963-1985). There is always the danger of triteness and over repetition, but this series shows that there is potential for many good stories. D.J.S.

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