Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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Review Index 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998
Astronauts in Trouble

     Three reporters land the assignment of a lifetime; to follow the richest man on earth on his trip to the moon to establish a permanent base and mining colony. Due to the potentially deadly actions of eco-terrorists, however, the trip commences prematurely with said reporters in tow.

     Upon landing, it is discovered that things are not as they seem, and the very rich and benevolent Ishmael Hayes may not be as..., well, benevolent, as he seems.
This is not the set-up for a sci-fi story of aliens and flying saucers. Rather, it is the plot to an intriguing story that, refreshingly, may have more to do with science than fiction.

     Astronauts in Trouble, by writer Larry Young and artists Matt Smith and Charlie Adlard, reads like a novel-to-comic story, and I mean that in a good way. Perhaps one of the most intelligently-written comics I've ever read, Astronauts in Trouble contains humor, suspense, action, and even a few twists and turns in just the right places. It also has some of the best real-life dialogue a reader could hope for; the characters sound like real people, not cardboard cutouts. These qualities combine to make this story one of the most pleasing reads in comics today.

     The only thing that might distract is the black-and-white art of Matt Smith. I tend to think his work would look much better colored, or even inked with thicker lines. Without either, the art comes off as very one-dimensional.

     Adlard takes over for the last couple of issues, and does a better job at "fleshing out" the art. Considering very few comic artists today can do stellar black-and-white work, however, the effort is highly commendable, as is the project overall.

     Astronauts in Trouble is recommended for all ages, though the complex content will probably appeal more to teens and adults. It can be found at your local comic shop, or online at Astronauts in Trouble trade paperback, published by Ait Planet Lar, 144 pages, $12.95.

     Review by Mark Allen

Two Over Ten
2 over 10

     The reason underlying all forms of art is communication. Then why is it that after two issues of the new comic book Two Over Ten you will not know: 1) what is a "Given"; 2) why some folks posses a Given; 3) why it has special powers; 4) why it is bad that a Given has special powers; 5) why the comic's protagonist releases those Given; 6) who or what is "The Release"; and 7) who are the rightful owners of the Given. The potential length of this list was shortened due to the number of words allowed Suspended Animation. The breadth of the befuddlement given by this list may be measured by the depth of the dandruff produced by scratching your head.
You will know that the young Irish girl chosen by who-knows-who to rid the Earth of Given doesn't really know either. That is not a relief to readers.

2 over 10 cover     You will also know that the art is serviceable, but not outstanding, and does add a layer of visual under-standing missing from the plot, prose and characterizations.

     Oddly enough, the backup feature in both issues, Far From Saints, is well written and well drawn.

     For those tender readers who think this reviewer enjoys criticizing, let me make one thing perfectly clear. It is not pleasant to write a negative review because I have written comic books and know how difficult it is to even get one into print. It is agonizing for me to do so. But to do less would be less than honest and make questionable the honesty of opinions expressed about the hundreds of other titles reviewed in the past in Suspended Animation.
And, ultimately, you would not given a hoot about SA or Two Over Ten.

     Two Over Ten #s 1 & 2/$2.95 & 26 pgs. ea. from Second 2 Some Studios/ story: Myatt Murphy; pencils: Chris Rhoades/sold in comics shops.

     Review by Michael Vance.


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