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

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August 11, 1999

Reviews in this issue:  

The Titans - The Kingdom

The Titans

          One of the interesting comic hook events of 1999 has been the latest revival by DC Comics of the group once known as The Teen Titans and now called The Titans.

          I had no respect for the earliest stories. The plots were infantile and the art was unsatisfactory; however the first series lasted long enough to prove that DC had found an audience.

          The two later versions of the team enjoyed drastic improvements in stories and art but foundered. The fourth version seems to he off to a good start.

          The new team is in a three-issue series entitled JLA/Titans in which the Justice League of America is drawn into conflict with almost every character affiliated with the Titans.

          The script by Davin Grayson and Phil Jiminez starts off strongly but seems to weaken. Jiminez is also responsible for the art. At his best, he is comparable to artist George Perez but faces are often too cartoonish.

          That series was a lead-in to a new continuing series for the Titans. The first six issues have been good. Grayson's Scripts are excellent, but the art has been passed around. Mark Buckingham, the current artist, does well, but I still have problems with his faces and anatomy.

          If I sound too negative about the art let me emphasize that it is far superior to the earliest stories. Nick Cardy was popular for reasons I could never grasp. Two examples of his art can be found in a Teen Titans Annual that reprints five stories from 1964-66. The other three stories demonstrated the inanity of many DC titles in that era. Even after 35 years, this is embarrassingly bad material.

Two other items worth noting: issue 18 of Legends of the DC Universe explains some obscure points about the origin of the second group of Titans while Titans: Secret Files and Origin, fills in some gaps between JLA/Titans and the first issue of the new series. Get this and forget the Annual.

Reviewed by Dr. Jon Suter

The Kingdom

In 1996, DC Comics published a major mini-series, four issues of Kingdom Come. The story was set in a future where Superman's withdrawal from human affairs because of personal grief led to dire consequences.

In late 1997, DC issued a single issue of Gog, which implied that more Kingdom stories were forthcoming. Now DC has issued a two issue sequel entitled The Kingdom. It helps to be familiar with the original, but new readers will catch on quickly.

Mark Waid continues as scripter, but Ales Ross, the original artist, is absent. Ariel Olivetti has drawn the first issue. Mike Zeck, the second. Olivetti's work is competent, but Zeck's is less pleasing. In some panels, his art distracts from Waid's script.

Supplementing The Kingdom are five issues based on the involvement of the children of DC's current heroes. Some appeared in Kingdom Come. All are written by Waid, but each has a different artist. All of them are better than Zeck.

"Kid Plash" is the daughter of Wally West, the current Flash. Mark Pajarillo is the artist. "Nightstar" is the daughter of Dick "Nightwing" Grayson and alien princess Starfire. Matt Haley's work is excellent, as is Brian Apthorp's in "Son of the Bat". This hero is the son of Batman and Thalia, daughter of one of Batman's greatest enemies. The parents are not thrilled with the romance.

The most humorous issue is "Offspring". Frank Quigley's art is a good blend of humor and heroics. The hero is the son of Plastic Man.

The fifth issue is set in the modern era. "Planet Krypton" chronicles the story of a young waitress in a super hero theme restaurant haunted by the ghosts of dead or vanished DC heroes. Barry Kitson's art is the best of the five issues.

Longtime fans will enjoy identifying the "ghosts". They and fans of DC's Elseworld stories will relish the climax of The Kingdom.

Give Waid and Kitson A's, and hope for better art in future Kingdom stories.

Reviewed by Dr. Jon Suter

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