Headlines   2002 Review Index   October 16, 2002

Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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Review Index 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998

      Atmospherics, published by Avatar Press, Inc., 48 pages, $5.95.

      Alien abductions and cattle mutilations.  You'd have thought, by now, that most of us would have heard all we wanted about such things.  I mean, after all, the X-Files program is over and done with.  So, what could possibly possess me to even review a comic with such fare, much less speak well of it?  Well, a good story, along with fantastic artwork would be an excellent start.  The comic? 

      Atmospherics, a graphic novel by writer Warren Ellis, and artist Ken Meyer, Jr.Now, this is not your typical alien-abduction story.  Thanks to Ellis, it actually manages to pose a decent mystery, keeping the reader guessing right to the end.

      The main character, Bridget Rhinehart, goes from seemingly frazzled sole survivor of a slaughtered township, to possible drug-abuser, to possible murderer, but which one is accurate?

      The entire story takes place in an interrogation room, where Bridget is grilled by a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  This shadowy figure questions, cajoles and intimidates her, as he seeks to arrive at the "truth" about what happened in the small town.  The result makes for a real page-turner with a definite chill factor.  The most creative part of the story, however, is the truth about the aliens.

      What, you think I'm going to TELL you?  You'll have to find out for yourself.

      Meyer's artwork has a very realistic quality to it.  And, though his work doesn't get showcased in the sense of vast setting changes, his talent for character expressions lends as much to the entertainment value of this story as Ellis' writing.

      He is also one of those very accomplished black-and-white artists I enjoy so much; those who refuse to read comic material due to lack of color are punishing themselves when they pass up work like this.

      Atmospherics is recommended for adults and older teens, due to some language and intense situations. Find it at comic shops, comic conventions, or online catalogs.

      Review by Mark Allen

Robin Hood and the Minstrel

      Robin Hood and the Minstrel, published by Joe Gentile and Dave Ulanski, from Moonstone, 48 pages, $5.95.

      Allan-a-dale is a "humble minstrel" who has lost the most important thing in his life; his true love.  His fair Ellen, to whom his whole heart belongs, has been promised to wed her father's less-kind, and much less-youthful, overlord Sir Stephen of Trent.  Just when all seems hopeless, however, Allan makes the acquaintance of Robin Hood and his merry band of (more or less) do-gooders. 

      As Robin and his crew hear the minstrel's tale, sympathy gives way to resolve, and resolve to a plan to rescue Ellen from her fate, and have her joined with her beloved Allan.  This, by the way, gives way to a great example of comics-entertainment for the reader. Paul Storrie crafts an engrossing, romantic, and just plain FUN tale within these pages.  The characters of Robin Hood and assorted merry men don't come off as stale, despite their longevity and the number of mediums in which they have appeared.  The intended groom, Sir Stephen, is made into a finely dislikeable villain, as the "old man" with his eye on the "young girl," and his mind on one thing; and it's NOT love.

      Rich Gulick handles the pencils in a very clean-lined, fine style.  His Robin has a playful, almost impish quality about him, which, I believe, is the way the bowman should be portrayed.  Inker Steve Bird and colorists Ken Wolak and Dawn Groszewski nicely round out an art team that ultimately makes Robin Hood as much fun to look at as it is to read.

      Another selling point, I believe, is the fact that the story is self-contained.  No need to buy a second issue, no "bait" to get the reader to purchase a "sister" title.  Ideal for those tempted to start reading comics.

      Robin Hood and the Minstrel is highly recommended for all ages.  Look for it at comic shops, comic conventions, online catalogs, or at www.moonstonebooks.com

      Review by Mark Allen


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