Suspended Animation

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

Review Index: 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998

Aliens Vs Predator: Xenogenesis  

            "All-New Series" shouts its cover blurb. Yeah, sure.

            How do you milk an alien? Publish an all-new comic book series on the popular creature-feature, Alien, for the umpteenth time.

            Yeah, but they threw in Predator, that other popular monster From that popular creature-feature, Predator! Again.  

        Throw it out. At least that would seem to be a reasonable attitude. But, occasionally, one must reason anew.

        Aliens Vs Predator: Xenogenesis, although completely predictable, is also completely fun.  

            Well. Not completely. Here is the well-worn premise for these crossover mini-series: humans gather for a purpose that leads them unexpectedly into a fracas with an Alien and Predator who are also in a fracas.

            Here's the plot to this mini-series: this female convict is sprung by her boyfriend who has just received an assignment to team with several other white-collar criminals to pull of an undisclosed heist. When they enter a huge building to do so, they run into Will and Grace.

            Nah. Da aliens.

            It's a shame this title is so well written. It's so tempting to criticize what doesn't deserve criticism.

            Wouldn't you know that the art steals your chance at trashing this new title as well? It is very stylized, an easy visual read, blends perfectly with its colors, and does a good job in making each character visually distinctive.

            Dad gummit. It's enough to make you want to go out and buy the silly comic book.

            And then there's the announcement in the back of the book that a new Alien, Predator, Terminator title is on its way to a comic book shop close to you!

            Holy Hannah, bat-reader! It will probably be good, too!!

            In a nutshell, Dark Horse Comics has done a better job at pulling another quart out of a movie-based series than any publisher in comics history. Again. Dang it.

            Review by Michael Vance

            Aliens Vs Predator: Xenogenesis #1 of 4 is 21 pages and priced at $2.95 from Dark Horse. The writer is Andi Watson, The Penciller is Mel Rubi.  

Dennis the Menace: His First 40 Years

            "SOLD!, shouts tile auctioneer, "to the man holding his hand over his little boy's mouth!"

            Yep, it's him again in Dennis The Menace: His First 40 Years [Abbeville Press, 220 pgs.].

            Hank Ketcham's forever-five year old has brought a chuckle or a tear to millions of readers world-wide since 1951.

            It's no surprise that this delightful  collection represents comic strips at their best.

            Nor is their much surprise in why Dennis the Menace is so incredibly popular, outside of the fact that Ketcham is one of the greatest cartoonists in the world.

            Dennis is Everyboy, full of cockiness born of ignorance and inexperience, of endless curiosity and energy.

            This essential "boyness" is so well understood that readers easily fill in the unwritten and undrawn situations preceding a punch line.

            As example:

            A room full of adults hide their laughter behind a hand, or turn away from the embarrassed faces of mom and pop. Hands firmly on hips, Dennis exclaims, "If what I said wasn't funny, why is everybody why is everybody tryin’ not to laugh?"

            Dennis the magician holds out a fan of playing cards as his pop begins to pick one. "Take a card!" Dennis prompts. "Any card!”

            "NOT THAT ONE!"

            As pop shows a new wrist watch to mom, Dennis observes, "It don't look unbreakable to ME!"

            This is the stuff of real life seen through the eyes of a man who loves life and people, the stuff that makes gritty, violent superheroes seem silly.

            And this treasure was discovered in the remainders bin of a major, chain book store for $2.99, about the price of many comic books! It was probably originally priced at $15 to $20.

            Highly recommended...

            at just about any price.

Triple X #3 (of 7)

            Published by Dark Horse comics.

            Intriguing power struggles in a future Amsterdam. Quirky, exceptional art, barebones dialog, brief graphic sex and violence. Recommended for readers who don't find that objectionable.

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