Headlines   2003Review Index   January 29, 2003
Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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Review Index 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998
Smallville: The Comic

Smallville      The success of the WB television show Smallville is well-known to most, by now.  What may not be known, however, is that D.C. has produced a spin-off comic.

      Smallville: The Comic fits right into television continuity, following the life of a teen aged Clark Kent and his high-school friends.  Containing two different stories, Smallville manages to be big on suspense, action, and even characterization.

      In the first story, "Raptor," a young man is caught in an explosion at an excavation of dinosaur bones, which also happens to be infused with kryptonite.  As a result, he begins a slow transformation into a human/raptor hybrid, and sets his sights on settling a family grudge with Lex Luthor.  Though the story is standard "mutation of the week" fare, which was so common in the TV. series' first season, it is a well-paced story, with very nice artwork by Roy Allan Martinez.

      In "Exile of the Kingdom," readers and fans get a peek inside the head of Lex Luthor.  Why does the sole offspring of a billionaire choose to make a small Kansas town his home when the big business and nightlife of Metropolis beckon?  This is the question posed by Lex's high society friends, as well as his less-than-loving father.  Though John Paul Leon's thick lines and rather unexpressive art don't add much to the story, the examination of Lex Luthor, perceived by so many to be a "spoiled rich kid," is well worth the read.

      Smallville can be found at comic shops, comic conventions, or online auctions and catalogs.  Considering the loyal following of the television show, it's a shame it can't be found on newsstands, as well. Recommended for all readers.

      Smallville: The Comic, published by D.C. Comics, 72 pages, $3.95.

      Review by Mark Allen

The Stone Man

The Stone Man      The Stone Man, published by Ajasont Press, 24 pages, $3.00. Available at www.geocities.com/jacklegcomics.  After many years, a father and daughter make peace with divorce and the death of a beloved wife and mother.  Characterization very well done, with highly expressive artwork. Recommended.

      Review by Mark Allen

Wiener Dog Art

Wiener Dog Art - Far Side      A garage sale by any other name (yard sale, rummage sale) still smells as sweet. 


      Because among the used clothing and useless junk one can also find cheap comic books, and comic strip collections like A Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes.

      Cheap is always good. Sweeter still is when a relative who haunts garage sales buys Gary Larson's  Wiener Dog Art: A Far Side Collection for you. Life doesn't get much better than that.

      Larson is famous for his quirky twist of the mundane events of life, of course.  This collection of comic strips featuring piggish men and mannish pigs, cosmic aliens, giant insects, pirates, mad scientists and the kitchen sink, all with tongue placed firmly in metaphorical cheek, is no exception.

      For those unfamiliar with Far Side, a terrified couple sinking into the living room carpet with the caption "And down they went: Bob and Francine—two more victims of the La Brea Carpets" should give you the flavor. And all of Larson's madness is drawn in a simple, big-foot style of cartooning that ladles gloops of ha ha's to already fall-down funny situations.

      Cream on the pancake makeup of Larson's bizarre characters is a "here-tofore never published in book form" color section featuring his collection of wiener dog "fine" art. Each, of course satirizes a famous painting. My favorites include 'Pablo Picasso's' "Wiener Dog with Head Turned" and 'Edvard Munch's' "The Whine"—a terrified wiener clutching his jowls before a surrealistic background.

      Indeed, surrealistic might best describe Larson's sorely missed comic classic, The Far Side.

      Weiner Dog Art, any Far Side collection of comic strips, garage sales, and generous relatives who understand your nutty sense of humor are highly recommended.

      Wiener Dog Art/108 pgs. & $7.95 from Andrews and McMeel/by Gary Larson/available at garage sales and used bookstores!

     Review by Michael Vance


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