Headlines   2002 Review Index   December 16, 2002

Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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The Generic Trade Paperback

      "This is a job…" says the clean-cut young man in superhero tights, "For a taxi!"

      Yep, The Generic Trade Paperback (GTP) is parody of the industry that creates and merchandizes, and the fans that sustain, superhero comic books. So what makes this one different from all of the other parodies? 

      This one is funny.

      Oh, it isn't as brilliant as Kurtzman's parodies of Superman, Plastic Man and Wonder Woman, or Grass Green's Wildman and Rubberroy, but GTP is bwahaha funny for anyone steeped in comic books. As example, from the cabbie who drives our superhero (who is a parody of Super-man) to a lab confronts the madman:

      "Let me get this straight.  You're gonna destroy the world"?"

      "The entire universe, actually," responds the nutcase.

      "Right. The entire universe, just so everyone will know how great you are?"

      "That's right," says the scientist.

      "But if you destroy everything, who will be left to acknowledge your greatness?" 

      I will acknowledge his greatness.

      Indeed, not only are the characters, writing and premise in GTP tasty, I acknowledge the art is pretty nifty, too, if you like what passes for the "realistic" anatomy and settings that now dominate the artform.

      Now that you'd gotten the flavor of the prose and the style of the pre-sentation of GTP, what more do you need to know?

      Oh yeah, this superhero lives with his mom even though he is at least 25 years old, gets $5 a week for allowance, and spends it all on comic books. So run down to your closest comic book shop, or turn on your computer, and order. 

      Highly recommended for comic book geeks, er, fans.

      The Generic Trade Paperback #1 (reprinting The Generic Comic Book #s 1-5)/ 104 pgs. & $8.95, Comics Conspiracy Publications/words: Doug Miers; penciller: Amilton Santos/ available in comics shops and at www.comicsconspiracy.com

     Review by Michael Vance

The Flash Annual

            The Flash Annual #1, published by D.C. Comics, 48 pages, original cover price $1.25. File this one under "great works forgotten."  I'm referring to the first ten issues and first annual of the 1987-88 run on D.C. Comics' Flash series, by Mike Baron and Jackson Guice.

            Before Mark Waid initiated the concept of the Speed Force, Flash's inter-dimensional power source, Baron developed the concept that Wally West's (a.k.a. The Flash) speed came a hyperactive life force, or "chi."  This was highlighted in the first Flash annual, in 1987.

            The annual begins with the Flash foiling a hold-up at a Chinese restaurant.  Having disarmed the crooks, he snatches the mask off of one of them, only to have him hit the ground, as if struck.  Shaken, West confers with Marshall Lau, a former master of the "healing arts," who educates him on how the old masters used to project their internal power towards others, causing injury or death.  A far cry from the "Speed Force" idea.  Then again, there were quite a lot of things different about this Flash "run." Instead of the speed of light, the Flash had a top speed of about 700 miles per hour.  Not an especially altruistic hero, Wally West was a bit of a womanizer.  He was even a millionaire for a few issues. 

            One thing that was not different, however, was the entertainment value. Mike Baron's characterization skills shine brightly in this series.  The character of West was not of the cookie-cutter variety, as mentioned above.  He came across as just a "regular joe" with super powers, living very much in the shadow of his dead mentor.

            Artist Jackson Guice also put his mark on the character.  He drew the Flash long and lean, just as you would expect a runner to look.  Where many older Flash fans consider Carmine Infantino the character's definitive artist, Guice gets my vote.

            This forever-fresh take on a classic character is recommended for those who enjoy great superhero action and characterization.      

      Review by Mark Allen


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