Suspended Animation

Michael Vance   Mark Allen   Michael Vance Books
The longest-running comics review column in America perhaps the World!

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Kiss: Psycho Circus

               Honest reviewers must sometime kiss and tell.

               I was prejudiced.

               That telling remark means I am no fan of the “musical" group Kiss that is better known for its silly mime makeup and costumes than music. My preference for substance over glitz is not just lip service.

               Therefore, a Kiss comic book must be bad, right?

               I was stunned. Kiss: Psyche Circus has almost nothing to do with Kiss, the rock and roll group. Sorta.

               Oh, there are lots of advertisements about Kiss toys, books and stuff in its pages, and a letter column that makes it clear readers would like to see more Kiss in the title. It is also true that a Kiss "musician" is seen in only seven panels out of twenty-two pages of story. But this comic book has nothing to do with glitz over substance.

               Kiss is about stunning art, dramatic visual storytelling, accurate anatomy and architecture, amazing staging, and an eye for the importance of atmosphere. Artist Clayton Crain's pencils will grab you by the eyeballs, and the inker, colorist and even package designer of this comic book will shake you until your brain hurts.

               This issue of Kiss is not so much about story. The writing in this dream sequence is imaginative, the dialog is believable, an4 even though this was my first Kiss, I had no problem in following events or characters that had been established in earlier issues.

               I was entertained.

               Since one issue in any series is just a piece of a greater whole, I suspect this greater whole isn't a kiss off either.

               It is just possible that this is the first comic book series that is better than the subject upon which it is loosely based.

               Please believe that my unexpected but final evaluation of the 27th issue of this comic series is not tongue in cheek.

               Kiss is highly recommended.

               Kiss: Psyche Circus #26 is priced at $2.25. Published by Image and written by Brian Holguin. Available in comics shops and by mail.

The Simpsons Forever!

               You’ll go blind if you don’t stop doing that. That’s because the type in The Simpsons Forever! trade paperback is smaller than Homer Simpson’s brain.

               But won't be able to stop... laughing. Tee-hee.

               But why, mighty critic, are you reviewing an 89-page trade paperback ($12.95, published by Harper Perennial, sold in book stores) when Suspended Animation is dedicated to finding comic books that would appeal to adults?

               Duuh. Because I want to, because The Simpsons Forever is comic and a book, and because I got it free for Christmas.

               And because of funny stuff from Moe the bartender, like: "Assault weapons have gotten a lot of bad press lately, but they're manufactured for a reason: to take out today's modern super animals, such as the flying squirrel and the electric eel."

The Simpsons Forever is an extremely comprehensive guide to the ninth and tenth seasons of the most popular animated television show in history. Each entry includes a plot summary, a character profile, "The Stuff You May Have Missed", hilarious quotes, and lots of art.

"The Stuff You May Have Missed" is a list of the tiny visual and verbal gags sprinkled throughout every episode. These include oddball signs (an airport sign reads, "Birthplace of Wind Shear"), strange cameo appearances by minor characters, and satiric theme music (a band plays the theme to the TV show "Sanford and Son" after reinstating the sanitation commissioner).

Trivia buffs receive added titters.

As an added bonus, the book ends with a tribute to the character Troy McClure, the visual gags on the Simpson couch that open each show, a listing of which actor supplies which voice, the songs sung by the Simpsons, and a collection of profane, er, profound saying from Homer.

You still doubt the mighty reviewer's motives?

Okay. The real reason this trade paperback was reviewed is that Marge Simpson's profound observation about critics needed airing.

Marge: You know, Homer, it's very easy to criticize.

Homer: Fun, too.


Buy it.

Review by Michael Vance


2006 Starland, PO Box 24955 Denver CO 80224-0955 Ph 303.777.6800 Fx 303.200.9009