by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter
March 10, 1999
Reviews in this issue:
Marvel & DC's Reexaminations
The covers by Mark Schultz are worth the price of admission.
It is disappointing that the interior art on SubHuman, a new comic book mini-series, suffers by comparison to those covers.
The plot. A research boat and its captain discover a ravishingly beautiful and mysterious woman deep under the frozen waters of the Arctic. When revived, she is connected to the wreckage of an eerie diving bell and troubled by memories that suggest Krill Stromer faces an intriguing, obscure future.
So do readers. Do not despair. It is delightfully and intentionally so.
Here is a hint. Krill's beauty is not the only outré thing that ravishes.
Writers Schultz and Ryan wisely spend much of the first book titillating readers with plot and character elements that only begin to boil in the second issue.
Boils and all, her past invades Krill's present with a vengeance in the second outing. Also 'outed' are Krill's mother, a nasty U.S. Senator, and a secret that will surely be stripped bare before the series ends.
You see, there is not more to Krill that delight's the eye.
There is less.
The interior art. Roger Peterson is not a poor craftsman. Although there is an occasional misplaced panel, his visual storytelling is clean, well paced and above industry standards. His style is distinctive, dynamic when the story calls for drama, and free of the useless fireworks of lesser artists in comics.
His maggoty monsters are delightfully disgusting.
It just isn't art by Mark Schultz whose work, in part, sets the industry standard. His SubHuman covers and the published character designs for this series are excellent.
If your curiosity is sufficiently peaked by these tantalizing tidbits, SubHuman is recommended for light entertainment.
SubHuman #s 1 & 2 (of 4)/22 pgs. & $2.95 ea. From Dark Horse Comics, written by Michael Ryan and Mark Schultz, sold in comics shops and by mail.
-- Michael Vance
Marvel & DC's Reexaminations
Two major comic book publishers, DC and Marvel, are reexamining their early publications for new inspiration. In both cases, the results are favorable.
Marvel has recently reemphasized Captain America's exploits during World War II as exemplified in the recent "Invaders" storyline in Marvel Universe and in a new title, Captain America Sentinel of Liberty. All this is in addition to the stories set in our time in the regular Captain America title.
The first two issues of Sentinel are well done and include other members of the Invaders superhero group in the cast. The dislike of the Human Torch and the Submariner characters echoes their memorable clashes from Marvel's earliest days.
Given the popularity of the final Saving Private Ryan, we can expect a similar plotline very soon in Sentinel. Give Sentinel a low A.
An impressive piece of work is a two issue series, Iron Man: the Iron Age, a retelling of the origin and early career of the superhero, Iron Man. Kurt Busiak's script gets a high A as does the art by Patrick Zircher (volume 1) and Richard Howells (volume 2).
Busiak has studied issues of Tales of Suspense where Iron Man first appeared. His use of small details makes this reprise an extension of, rather than a replacement for, early stories. Older readers will appreciate the strong links to the past as well as new information about Iron Man and his alter ego, Anthony Stark.
Busiak divides his narrative between Pepper Potts, Stark's secretary, and Happy Hogan, his chauffeur and bodyguard. The reader has an advantage over those narrators: knowledge of what is really happening. I would give an edge to Pepper's version of the story.
Several of Iron Man's forgotten foes surface briefly. A villainess I do not recall, the Saboteur, appears in a costume not from the 1960's. We also learn how Roxxon Oil came into existence. That closes a gap in our knowledge.
Let's hope for similar treatment of other Marvel characters.
-- Dr Jon Suter
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