by Michael Vance & Jon Suter
July 10, 1998
Reviews in this issue:
v.s. Aliens #'s 1 & 2
Cows of Our Planet; Unnatural Selections; The Chickens Are Restless
The marketing battle between two comics publishers was silenced by the question.
'If two is better than one, then two publishers and two extremely popular characters in one comic book must be twice as good, right?.'
An alien probe has crashed on Earth. Lois Lane, Clark Kent and LexCorp (Lex Luthor's megabusiness) investigates.
Superman discovers the probe's origin, a huge chunk of planet floating in deep space. It's Argos City, thrown from Superman's home planet of Krypton when it exploded. What is left is infested with aliens (the famous movie ones unknown to Superman who doesn't go to movies much) that can do more than just harm the Man of Steel. His powers have been greatly diminished because of his distance from a yellow sun. And this is one mean, ugly bunch of acid spitting, double-slavering- jawed bugs.
Superman v.s. Aliens demanded an epic sweep that penman Dan Jurgens supplied with massive corporations, gigantic conflicts and mundane speech.
Superman is epic. He's all of the virtues of the common man stuffed into a leotard. It should be no surprise that his speech here is common. Indeed, it adds a much needed touch of reality to the adventures of man personified as god.
And the art is to buy for. Those artists and fans who whine because some reviewers demand the 'impossible' in comics--accurate human anatomy, uncluttered, dynamic storytelling--will find the impossible and more.
So, has this obvious marketing ploy doubled the impact of these two fictional icons? Nah. Twas the writing and art what done it.
Highly recommended for readers of all ages who enjoy adventure.
MINIVIEW:[Andrews & McMeel] Cows of Our Planet; Unnatural Selections; The Chickens Are Restless (Far Side collections). Bizarre, sideways looks at reality by master newspaper cartoonist, Gary Larson. These are why comics are an art form.
The great ones are always difficult.
Granted, the difficulty in El Gaucho doesn't lie in its art. From anatomy to zoology, this graphic novel is a visual feast beyond criticism. Its muted coloring, common in European comics, is a particular delight.
Nor is there much fault in plot, dialog or characterization. There are few graphic novels that have come this close to approaching the richness in detail associated with prose novels as has El Gaucho.
This is almost a perfect marriage of word and art.
Then, wherein lies this difficulty?
El Gaucho is a graphic novel by two of Italy's most famous comics artists set at the birth of independence in early nineteenth century Argentina. Revolutionaries seek alliance with the English or French smelling an opportunity to snatch a piece of Spanish territory. The motivations of these two countries are tainted with greed, hypocrisy, and a lust for power.
Oho! It's full of plot holes.
The willing and unwilling players in this sweeping political and social drama are a beautiful Irish prostitute, Molly Malone, Torn, an English drummer boy, Matthew the hunchback and an Argentinian girl, Aureliana.
So, it's cliched and trite!
Easily one of the best comics published in America in this or any other year, El Gaucho is highly recommended for adults.
Wait! For God's sake, man, the difficulty, the difficulty!!
It contains brief but graphic nudity, violence and sexual situations. Some will and some won't find these exploitive.
El Gaucho/142 pgs., $28.95, hardcover from NBM Publishing/written by Hugo Pratt, drawn by Milo Manara/available in book and comic shops and by mail.
MINIVIEW: Rebel Sword [Dark Horse Comics] In a Bosnia where everyone Japanese is either fifteen or eighty-five, battles wage in this fairly well-drawn, barely written ware "manga" (Japanese for it takes three minutes to read). Brief nudity; violence.
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