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

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November 3, 1999

Reviews in this issue:

Mysterymen Comics & Mystery Men #1 - American Presidents In Comics - Big Blown Baby #s 1-4

Mysterymen Comics & Mystery Men #1

    Ah, the Mysterymen. Mysterious. Men. A movie. 

    Lower than The Snake's belly among superheroes, they are a weird team of costumed blue-collar workers who tackle dirty jobs with mediocre, chaotic, or no powers at all. Some are more screwed up than the villains they battle. Some are insane. In one way or another, they are all Bob Burden, one of the most original minds in comic books. 

    In Mysterymen Comics, The Strangler, Metro Marauder, The Hummer and The Spleen track a monster in a Champion City junkyard. 

    Well, almost. 

    The Strangler and Marauder find The Hummer drunk in a bar, and The Spleen is next to useless as these three normal, sincere but inept men in ridiculous costumes wander into trouble. They do so with all of the dedication and enthusiasm of millions of men and women who trudge to work on Monday mornings. 

    In the movie adaptation, shamed by the success of Captain Amazing, the three Mysterymen on call decide to hold a pool party and recruit new members. Mr. Furious (he gets super angry), The Shoveler (swings a mean shovel) and The Blue Raja (master of silverware) are only successful in adding Invisible Boy (who can only turn invisible when no one is looking), The Spleen (super-flatulent) and the daughter of Carmine the Bowler (complete control over bowling balls). 

    The art in both titles is distinctive, and there are real chuckles in both books. Burden's dry humor is present visually as well as in his deceptively mundane dialogue. However, Burden's broad, slap-stick, satirical madness is played with complete seriousness and that is the genius of his insanity. 

    You will either love or hate the Mysterymen. As for me--I'm in love. 

    Mysterymen Comics #1 is 26 pages and costs $2.95. Written by Bob Burden, penciling by Stephen Sadowski. Mystery Men #1 (of 2) is 24 pages and costs $2.95. It is adapted from the motion picture by Bob Fingerman with penciling by Chris McLoughlin. Both titles are published by Dark Horse Comics and are sold at comics shops and by mail.

American Presidents In Comics

    American presidents frequently appear in comic books, sometimes for satire and sometimes for drama. In 1970, the two hundredth issue of DC's Flash featured a story in which the Flash was blackmailed into assassinating Richard Nixon. 

    By use of speed, Barry Alien, the then-Flash, tricked his manipulators and rescued Nixon without his being aware of the attempt. That story made readers who remembered the death of Kennedy in 1963 some-what uncomfortable. 

    The Flash still finds himself involved in presidential races. Wally West, Allen's successor, was recently involved in a plot (Flash #s 120-121) where a third party candidate had a strong chance of winning the presidency and was also the target of an assassination plot. 

    That will remind readers of the novel "The Manchurian Candidate" or the major film based on the novel. 

    A major part of the plot is the possible involvement of the Human Top, a supposedly dead villain from the days of Allen. The reaction of the now reformed villain, Pied Piper to that possibility may foreshadow changes in his role as a supporting character. 

    The story by Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn contains elements which would had been too fantastic for the 1970's; e.g., suicide bombers, but which are all too plausible today. 

    Paul Ryan's artistic interpretation of the Flash is different from that of earlier artists Irv Novick ('70s) and Carmine Infantino ('6(Ys). Each artist has enjoyed a loyal following, but I wonder if Infantino's style would be effective for this story. 

    Comic books have usually had a shallow view of history and politics. The worst treatment of American politics was DC's short-lived Prez title. Waid and Augustyn are obviously better informed, but their story lost some impact for readers by reaching newsstands after the 1996 election. As in politics, timing is everything. 

    Review by Dr. Jon Suter

Big Blown Baby #s 1-4

    Published by Dark Horse. A nasty, puerile and perverse satire of comics artist Jack Kirby's work, this degrades it, isn't funny and fulfills its cover warning: "For Immature Adults Only!" 

    Review by Michael Vance

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