Headlines   2002 Review Index   December 02, 2002

Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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Creature Tech

      Reanimated by the burial shroud of Christ, a madman attempts a plan begun 150 years ago, ravaging Earth with gigantic eels from outer space. Ying to his yang, Dr. Ong is an apostate preacher and scientist employed at Creature Tech, a clandestine research facility. With an oddball assortment of symbiotic monsters, rednecks, and a giant praying mantis, Ong plays out an exciting adventure of faith and self-revelation as Earth "hangs in the balance".  So reads the interior cover-flap of an astonishing new graphic novel, Creature Tech by Doug TenNapel.

      But this graphic novel is much more than plot. 

      No plot twist or character offered is wildly original, but ...Tech is a wonderful amalgam of influences melded into a singular, original, and entertaining style. As example, the creature that attaches itself to Ong is similar to the monster that attaches itself to faces in the movie Alien. The relationship in ...Tech, however, is much more complicated.

      Better still, Ong and cast are quirky, fully developed people who act and speak naturally in an unnatural world. Fully developed includes that rarest of human aspects in comics, God. Those potential readers who choose to not buy ...Tech because of religion will only cheat themselves.

      Better still again, the simple, minimalist art sifts Will Eisner and Alex Toth and a handful of European styles into a flour that is wholly TenNapel. Using thick, bold lines and large areas of white and black to heighten contrast, Creature Tech looks like an episode of The Spirit costarring Bugs Bunny.

      Comics don't get much better than this, and the only disappointment (perish the thought) is the possibility there might not be a second volume. Creature Tech is very highly re-commended for all but young children.

      Creature Tech/200 pgs. &  $14.95 from Top Shelf/available at comic book shops and www.topshelfcomix.com.

     Review by Michael Vance

The Illustrated Left Behind

     How would the world react if millions of people suddenly just disappeared?  Hundreds of auto accidents, plane crashes, and various disasters due to loss of key personnel.  Countless individuals, friends and loved ones, gone without a trace, with many theories, but no immediately clear answers.  We're talkin' "panic in the streets," here.  This is the premise of The Illustrated Left Behind, a comic adaptation of the best-selling book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins that deals with a particular interpretation of the Biblical account of the "last days." 

      But this isn't your father's Christian comic book.  As a Christian and a comic fan, I can confidently state that in terms of entertainment via well-done comic fare, this work, adapted by John S. Layman, and artists Aaron Lopresti and Jeffrey Moy, is a step up from most forays into a very particular genre.

      The writers have done a good job of crafting a tale that is enjoyable to people of varied points of view.  It is a moving story involving conflict, action, political intrigue, suspense, and, yes, even some theological debate for those who get into that sort of thing. 

      All of this is true, not despite the passion of the authors, but, in this reviewer's opinion, because of it.  In short, this story doesn't fail to entertain.

      Pencilers Lopresti and Moy do a wonderful job of translating this epic into sequential art. Having read the books before ever seeing the comics, I can say the artists captured the characters deftly and believably.  They convey the scenes of disaster and panic extremely well, lending the story much of it's power.

      Hopefully, the unavoidable fear of some that they may feel "preached at" won't keep them from trying this well-done comic fare.          

      The Illustrated Left Behind, published by Tyndale House Publishers, 224 pages, $14.99. Available in comic shops, bookstores, online catalogs and auctions, or by going to www.leftbehind.com and clicking on graphic novels.  Recommended for all ages.

      Review by Mark Allen


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