by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter
December 9, 1998
Reviews in this issue:
Nocrurnals: Witching Hour
300 #s 1-3 (of 5)/27 pgs. & $2.95 ea. from Dark Horse/sold in comics shops and by mail.
Three hundred Spartan warriors march to defend Greece again invasion by Persia.
Frank Miller revisits that famous historical battle with distinctive and powerful minimalist art, candid dialog and fast-paced plot.
For some readers, that is not enough. Story content is also important.
I am among that some.
Miller has a reputation for "preserving our First Amendment rights". For him, that means the right to depict nudity, promiscuity or sexual perversion, profanity, graphic violence, drug use and the dirty side of human nature.
It seems odd, not surprising, that defenders of those Rights rarely explore modesty, marital fidelity and sexual normalcy, decent language, conflict resolution without violence and the noble side of human nature.
Apart from male nudity, some violence, and profanity in his letters section, 300 is atypical of Miller's content through its third issue.
Nevertheless, readers who think those destructive activities need airing will continue to buy Miller's work, and will enjoy 300 anyway.
Readers who do not will yawn.
Nocrurnals: Witching Hour
Nocrurnals: Witching Hour/48 pgs, $4.95/by Dan Brereton/sold at comics shops and by mail.
Whenever a comics artist proclaims that "writing is important, but the art is everything", know that you have read a self-fulfilling prophecy.
That's what Rob Zombie wrote in his introduction to Noctumalsr ~Yirching Hour. Its artist must agree. Brereton's art is terrific. Distinctive, well executed, visually exciting story-telling is too rare in comics, and Brereton is blessed with an extra helping of talent, and a deep under-standing of cartooning techniques. Visually, this is a fun Halloween romps as real monsters mix, undetected, with kids in costumes But there is no real story or deep characterization. Brereton stands in good company. Most comics writers and artists do not possess both talents in equal dregs. And when art is eveIything...it isn't comics. MV Questions? Comments? Do you publish a comic you would like reviewed? Write: 1427 S. Delaware Ave., Tulsa, Ok, 74104. Visit us at www.starland.com
Events in comic books sometimes receive media coverage; for example, the supposed death of DC's Superman, his later transformation into a being of pure energy, and his marriage received considerable attention.
The death of Robin and Batman's crippling were noted. Even the transformation of Hal Jordan from the heroic Green Lantern into the villainous Parallax was mentioned briefly in U.S. News and World Report.
While DC seems to attract more coverage, Marvel also makes the headlines. The wedding of Spiderman was widely covered as was the wedding of Cyclops and Marvel Girl of Uncanny X-Men. The first Amalgamated Universe teamup of DC and Marvel characters received considerable attention. All of the above are topical stories that are shallow and rarely shown as part of a larger picture. Every now and then, popular magazines run a nostalgic article about pulp magazines or comics, but these can be inaccurate or simplistic. The worst error I can recall was in 1964; the author was hopelessly confused about Marvel's Hulk and Thing characters. He assumed they were the same character. Since Marvel's characters were barely known at the time, most readers would have found the article uninformative. When such articles are done properly, they deserve attention. If you have not yet seen the June, 1998 issue of Civilization, v.5,#2, I urge you do so do. That issue is edited by Jules Feiffer, himself a noted and influential cartoonist as well as author of The Great Comic Book Heroes (1965). What makes this entire issue significant for comics enthusiasts is that each of the 22 articles is written by people well known in other fields who have been influenced by comics. The well known journalists Studs Terkel and Pete Hamill write about "The Katzenjammer Kids", "Steve Canyon", and "But Sawyer" comic strips. One of our greatest science fiction writers, Kurt Vonnegut, discusses Will Eisner, one of the most important creators of comics (The Spirit). Civilization is published by the Library of Congress and should be available in most libraries. DJS
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