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by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter

Michael Vance Comic books for sale

December 29, 1999

R.I.P.D. - Xena, Warrior Princess - The Scary Book


    I can't say enough nice things about R.I.P.D., the new mini-series from Dark Horse Comics. But I'm going to try.

    Sheriff Roy Powell patrols Purgatory, that cosmic halfway house between Heaven and Hell. His R.I.P.D. job is to send escaped Hellspawn back to Satan.

    Nick Cruz is a Heaven bound ex-cop who is sent to Purgatory to help Roy stop an escaped demon named Speck. If he succeeds, he'll return to Earth to find his assassin.

    Vicious little Speck is on a mission from... himself. He searches for an angelic weapon to depose Satan and ascend the throne of Hell.

    If the premise doesn't grab you, how about punchy dialog that doesn't drag the intriguing plot and perfect pacing down into the realms of Campiness? Example:

    "Go to Hell," says Roy over the barrel of a nasty looking gun to a demon clutching a hostage.

    "Post te..." answers the demon. Translation: "After you."

    "Latin?" responds Roy. "Am I supposed to be impressed?"

    "No. You're supposed to be hanging over my fireplace."

    Yet unconvinced? Another of many nice touches is the black-market piece of pizza that Speck uses to bribe Cerebus, the three-headed guardian of Hell, to look the other way.

    Heavens!? You say it's your last $2.95 and must be wisely spent?!?

    The art and visual storytelling is flawless. Every human and demonic character is visually distinctive and interesting, every setting is powerful and captures just the right mood, and artist Lucas Marangon has a style "to die for".

    The icing on the visual cake is that Marangon uses restraint when blood and gore are needed to tell his story.

    So, what are you waiting for? The End of the World? So go buy already!!

    It's nice that Dark Horse saved their '99 best for last.

    Review by Michael Vance

Xena, Warrior Princess

    Nothing is harder than watching someone you love self-destruct.

    Comic books are self-destructing. They are expensive and difficult to find when you wish to buy. The quality of art and story is too uneven and even shoddy. Even while the competition for each entertainment dollar continues to escalate, poor decisions are being made by comics publishers.

    Prepare yourself for more bad news. Despite the obvious power of tapping into an extremely popular television show, the new comic book, Xena: Warrior Princess, will do nothing to stop the downward spiral of comic books.


    Unless you are familiar with the premise and characters of the television show about a female barbarian, you will have no clue why Xena and someone named Gabrielle are being crucified by Roman soldiers in the opening pages of the first issue. Nor will you know much about where or when the story is set. All of these problems could have been easily solved instead of writing the new title as if only existing Xena fans will buy the comic book.

    Ignoring these important story elements just about guarantees that no new reader unfamiliar with the television show will buy the second issue.

    It is also odd that an artist could not be found who could draw Xena in the comic book to look like Xena on the cover and in the television show. Faked anatomy does nothing to strengthen what is meant to be a realistic style either.

    Xena is not a poor comic book and not the only title guilty of these foolish mistakes. It is simply another missed opportunity to attract new readers to an industry and artform that desperately needs new readers.

    Review by Michael Vance

The Scary Book

    Touted as "...creative and fiendishly funny..." and drawn with "...Mad [magazine] -quality art", Scary fails to live up to its promise.

    Review by Michael Vance

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