Headlines   2002 Review Index   September 4, 2002

Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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Way of the Rat

In the Imperial City of Shinacea, a thief named Boon Sai Hong (a.k.a. The Jade Rat) enters a humble library, seeking three objects of celestial power: The Book of the Hell of the Hungry Dragons, the Ring of Staffs, and the Phoenix Heart.  He finds all but the heart, and barely escapes with his life. 

      Now, on the run from local king-of-thieves Boss Tiger, and the forces of Judge X'ain, the city's ruler, as well as enduring an obnoxious talking monkey telling him he's been "chosen" to bear the artifacts, Boon wants only to be rid of the scroll, and the ring that now refuses to be removed from his finger.

      Will he leave them behind, or accept the role fate has thrust upon him, using them to dispatch the evil which infests the city?  And, what happened to the Phoenix Heart? Thus, the stage is set, as chronicled in the first two issues of Way of The Rat, from Crossgen Comics. 

      The artwork, as is the case with most Crossgen books, is certainly above average.  The talents of penciller Jeff Johnson and inker Tom Ryder are merged to produce crisp, clear, action-oriented art, which is perfectly suited to this high-octane story.  Johnson also produces very expressive characters, giving them depth and personality.  Even the deep, rich colors help set this work apart from other comic fare, thanks to colorist Chris Garcia.

      Where the art thrives, however, the story fares not quite as well.  Not that a fun read can't be found here, but it's another variation of the "reluctant hero" theme, which has been done to the nth power.

      While there is entertainment value to writer Chuck Dixon's character interaction (especially between Boon and his monkey friend), it's still "less-filling" entertainment.  I want to be filled up.

      Way of The Rat is recommended for those who enjoy good comic art.  Find it at comic shops, trade shows, or online comic retailers.

      Way of the Rat, published by CrossGeneration Comics, 32 pages, $2.95.

      Review by Mark Allen


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