Headlines   2002 Review Index   July 24, 2002

Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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      A mother and daughter on vacation run into more than one kind of trouble, as they confront a violent hill family, as well as…dinosaurs and cavemen? It all unfolds in the 1989 Marvel Comics graphic novel, Arena, written and drawn by Bruce Jones.

      Sharon and her 12-year-old daughter Lisa are taking a trip through Missouri's hills, seeking to strengthen their relationship after a painful divorce.  However, they drive into much more than they bargained for, as they become targets for kidnapping and other, more unspeakable acts, by a country family intent on using them in a scheme to produce and sell infants.

      But help is on the way, in the most unlikely form of a female pilot from the future, who is forced to land, "out of time" in more ways than one.  Now, due to a "time slip," the three women must work together in order to survive against modern day danger, as well as that of prehistoric origin.  But what is the secret this woman from the future holds?

      Though not very familiar with the work of Bruce Jones, my first impression is that of his artwork.  His realistic style demonstrates a very competent grasp of the human form.  A fine sense of shadowing in his work, he also successfully sets the mood for what is ultimately an incredible, but very creepy story.

      Admittedly, however, the diverse elements of the story seem to clash, somewhat.  A reader may wonder if a tale of kidnap and rescue may have been sufficient for entertainment's sake, the envelope being pushed a little far with the time travel and Jurassic content.

      Still, from an artistic point of view, and taking into account the ease with which Jones establishes his villains (those you love to hate), Arena is well-worth seeking out.

      Arena is recommended for adults, due to language and sexual situations.  Find it at your local comic shop, bookstore, or online auction.

      Arena, published by Marvel Entertainment Group, 48 pages, $5.95.

      Review by Mark Allen


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