Suspended Animation
Suspended Animation
by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter

Check-out Michael Vance Comic books for sale

December 2, 1998

Reviews in this issue:

Decapitator 1-3
Summer 1998 Animated Movies
The Flintstones
The Lords of Misrule


981202a.jpg (19929 bytes)(Special)/$2.95, 22 pgs., Dark Horse/sold in comics shops and by mail.

They're baaaaaak!!

In a future devastated by war and disease, humans have been overthrown by tungsten steel and titaniurn machines as the rulers of earth. The few men left are determined to stop the madness that destroyed earth. Two of their meat-covered machines called Terminators are sent into the past to kill the man who started the destruction. Again.

Again, writer Alan Grant and artist Guy Davis prove that comic books based on movies can be entertainment dynamite.

Grant uses fast-paced plot twists and precise writing to sidestep the common pitfall of splattering every page with graphic nudity, violence end profanity to titillate his readers.

Not to be outdone, Davis's powerful settings, angles and clear visual storytelling make Grant's androids, humans and words jump off every page.

When it's this good, you hate to see it, end.

Highly recommended.

-- Michael Vance

Decapitator 1-3

981202b.jpg (16085 bytes)Four part series/$2.95 & 22 pgs. each from Dark Horse/words: Randy Bowen with Norm DePlume; art: Doug Mahnke/sold in comics shops and by mail.

"Hurry...I need to shut down your higher cortical functions before its too late," said the sexy robotic lady.

Too late, robotic lady rip-off of the SF film, Metropolis. My higher cortical functions shut down by the fifth page of your comic hook, Decapitator.

I mean who needs a hulking Frankenstein of a Decapitator saying things like "I want my mommy!" and "Quit it, ***head, that hurts!"

Then my cortical functions reignited. There is a reason that Decapitator says silly things. He is actually a young she, and there is a Mayan Hell thing going on.

If the writing is too often cute, what of the art?

I've become so numb to comics that visually explode on almost every panel of every page that unrestrained exaggeration has become mundane. For its style, the slightly irritating art in the first two books is strong, but deteriorates by the third issue. Sorta recommended.

-- Michael Vance

Summer 1998 Animated Movies

The summer of 1998 has not been blessed with films derived from comic books, but there are some of interest.

Since "animation" is the title of this column, some mention is due Quest for Camelot and Mulan.

Quest is disappointing to anyone familiar with the King Arthur myths, or Vera Chapman's novel The King's Damosel, on which it is supposedly based.

The animation is good and the two-headed dragon is interesting. Warner Brothers' attempts to imitate Disney's incorporation of juvenile and adult themes do not work well. Some will be offended by an incest joke; others by a sight gag based on the bodily functions of dragons.

I have not been impressed by the comic books, etc., spun off from Quest, but those who collect movie related comics will want them.

Disney's Mulan , a much better film, contains an incredible anachronism, a miniature dragon based upon comedian Eddie Murphy.

Murphy is amusing and the film works.

Some Chinese friends tell me they are pleased to see part of their folklore presented to American audiences even though Murphy's antics sometimes obscure the plot.

Give Disney's dragon an A and Warner's a C.

The other film with ties to comic books is Mask of Zorro. Many became acquainted with this character in the 1950's in Dell Comic's "Four Color" series and the Disney television series.

In this Zorro film, the masked hero has a hidden cave with a secret entrance to his stately mission. When I say the film someone behind me whispered to a neighbor, "That's nothing but the Batcave".

She was right.

What she may not have known is that an early Zorro film is closely associated with the death of Bruce Wayne's parents and his decision to adopt a double identity.

Somebody deserves an A for mingling the two legends.

Renewed interest in Zorro may increase the value of older comics.

-- Dr. Jon Suter

The Flintstones

981202d.jpg (23317 bytes)Yabadabadoo!!

The Flintstones are back in new adventures that ring true to the Hana-Barbera animated series. It is not without reason that the original animated stories were a hit with both children and adults in primetime television.

Nor was it a fluke that until it was recently surpassed by The Simpsons animated series, Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty starred in the longest, first-run cartoon in television history.

Unless you've been living in the stone, wait. Especially if you've been living in the stone age, you know the premise of the show. Fred Flinstone and cast poke fun at the modern stupidities of society by exaggeration and slapstick.

All of the animated stories' trademarks are included: mountains of food, everything made of stone, prehistoric monsters as the motors driving everything mechanical, and Fred and Barney as dopes saved by the wit and patience of their wives.


In this issue, Fred inherits a chain of bronto-burger stands and eats it into bankruptcy, He also forgets his anniversary and pays until his ears ring. And Fred and Barney uncover a mechanic's scam that destroys those incredible stone cars so that he can repair them. The idea in each story is fun!

The art in this title perfectly matches the artistic style of the animated series. Internally consistent, visually appealing and literate, it is wonderful to find characters who have not changed beyond recognition do to a string of artists who care nothing about continuity.

That disease is far too common in most superhero titles.

Undeniably, this is light entertainment. It is also recommended for young readers, or readers young at heart.

The Flintstones #21/$1.50, 22 pgs., Archie Comics/Art and story: Kirschenbaum, Diaz studios, White, Leon, Lockmen/available whereever comics are sold.

-- Michael Vance

The Lords of Misrule

981202e.jpg (17377 bytes) By Dark Horse comics. A well done, slow descent into madness and horror with an English accent. As the fantasy world of 'Wyrdfane" weeps into reality, will Mr. Goodfellow be sucked into his brother's insanity?

Not for children.

-- Michael Vance

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