by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter
February 3, 1999
Reviews in this issue:
II: The Book of
Comics Legends - Frank Frazetta
II: The Book of Ants $2.95 & 28 pgs.
From Artisan/drawn by Edward Ross Flynn, based on the movie/sold in comics shops and by mail.
"...a science fiction thriller about....a renegade mathematician attempting to decode the numerical pattern beneath the ultimate system of ordered chaos--the stock market. Pursued by an aggressive Wall Street firm and a Kabbalah sect....Max races to crack the code."
You'll agree that Max races in II: The Book of Ants. It takes about three minutes to read this comic. Admittedly, three minutes is amazing since Max is tackling a controversial philosophical and religious question that has remained unanswered by some of the best minds in history for many centuries.
But you'll be less amazed when you learn Max's answer. It is profoundly mundane.
Mundane is a shame since the art in this comic book is dark, distinctive, visually clear story telling that simply hasn't much of a story to tell. Additional dialog and captions that could have slowed the reader and built some suspense and macabre atmosphere was subtracted from the total package.
The writing in II is badly flawed. Choosing to let the art carry his story, Darren Aronotsky fails to develop any of his characters. It is hard to care about what happens to total strangers.
The intriguing philosophical question upon which his entire story hangs is framed and then barely discussed. That weakens an already shallow and mundane revelation that is meant to be the climax of II.
Those ants it this comic's subtitle are reduced to an artistic design element. I suspect they were meant to be more.
Regrettably, when weighing its strengths and weaknesses, 17 adds up to much ado about little.
An exciting, well crafted romp, this team of future men in and out of Japanese robot suits battles to stop a runaway nuclear disaster.
Comics Legends - Frank Frazetta
Powerful, bold, dramatic and epic all describe the work of an artist who became one of the first comic book superstars...backwards. Before organized comic book fandom or widely circulated publications about the artform, Frank Frazetta's fame had spread across America by word of mouth.
He was "that unbelievable cover artist" for Robert Howard's Conan and Burroughs' Tarzan novels.
It was first rumored and then confirmed that he'd also done work for Mad magazine and even for the legendary EC comics during the 1950s. As the first attempts at comic book history were published, the greatest thrill of all for comic book fans was discovered. Frank Frazetta had drawn comic books.
It was a thrill because comic book art was held in disdain by the same people who loved Frazetta's work. So, there!
Rooted in Naturalism (the artsy term for realistic representation), Frazetta's cover paintings of barbarians and voluptuous women are powerful in composition, bold in color, dramatic in subject and epic in scale. His exaggerated anatomy, perfect for the fantasy worlds illustrated, changed the direction of heroic art in comic books and heavily influenced SF, fantasy and adventure covers for paperback novels and magazines.
His small but important body of comic book work is no less powerful, and has been collected and reprinted in many editions.
Frazetta's comics work includes "Snowman" (Baily); Thundra, "Straight Arrow", Tim Holt, "Ghost Rider" (all ME); "Golden Arrow" (Fawcett); "Shining Knight", Tamahawk (both for DC); Buster Crabbe (Eastern Color), crime, horror, fantasy, science fiction and Mad magazine (EC); Creepy (Warren) and Forbidden Worlds (ACG).
His comic strip work includes Johnny Comet and Li'l Abner (as Capp's assistant). Poster art for movies and a stint as Harvey Kurtzman's assistant on "Little Annie Fannie" for Playboy magazine all broadened his career.
Frank Frazetta's work is highly recommended.
Some older titles are expensive and difficult to locate. Price guides or comics dealers help. Comics shops, conventions, mail order companies and trade journals are best sources. Prices vary; shop around.
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