Headlines   2003Review Index   April 11, 2003
Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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Victorian Part II: Self Immolation

      The young girl fidgeted by her boyfriend as the television announcer asked "On a scale of one to ten with ten the best, what do you give that song?"

      "A six. I liked the beat."

      "What about the words?" asked the announcer.

      "Words?" said the girl. 

      Yes, Buffy, songs and comic books have words. And I give Victorian Part II: Self Immolation a six as well. That means it isn't great or terrible; it is one notch above average.

      Reprinting issues eight through thirteen of The Victorian comic book series, this volume has little to do with its title character. This enigma who lurks in the shadows of New Orleans, driving criminals into the arms of the Law through "fear and small, serum-dipped darts", is seldom seen.

      Counterfeit money, strange symbols and alligators and sharks are the backdrop for this series title with the detail, character development and pace of a novel. But not for a good novel, for its pacing is slow, and no sense of threat or urgency seems to drive anything.

      Neither believable dialog or visual pyrotechnics make up for a sluggish plot.

Then again, The Victorian doesn't offer visual pyrotechnics. The eleventh collected issue shows a marked improvement over the better-than- serviceable art in the first four "chapters", and all of the artists add visual interest to the sluggish pace of the story by angle, scene changes and other staging tricks of the artform. But not much jumps off pages that were written to saunter.

      Fireworks get boring when over-indulged, and jumping constantly is exhausting, so a good read in a comfortable chair is never a bad thing. It is, indeed, very Victorian.

      Victorian Part II: Self Immolation/$19.95 & 187 pages from Penny-Farthing/words: Len Wein; pencils: Jim Baikie or Claude St. Aubin/ available in comics shops or at www.pfpress.com.

    Review by Michael Vance


      When the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11th, what had started as a normal day for Henrik Rehr turned into a day of fear and desperation.  His family separated by the confusion and fear that wracked the city, Henrik, with his youngest toddler-son, began the excruciating task of ensuring the safety of his wife and oldest son, while dealing with the evacuation process.  As he and his neighbors cope with the extraordinary events unfolding around them, new friendships are made, and old bonds strengthened.

      Henrik Rehr's Tuesday, a two-issue mini-series, documents one family's struggle to make it through one of the worst days in the history of our nation.  In doing so, he presents an arresting sequential tale that proves a former contention of mine; "real life" comics are potentially as entertaining as any fiction.

      Unfortunately, however, they are few and far between.

      Rehr does a wonderful job of relaying the fear and frustration of the event, but in a calmer, more restrained manner than one would expect.  There is a warmness that is absent in most "disaster" stories, provided primarily through "flashback" sequences of the birth of his son, as well as a particularly touching scene after a bedtime story. Rehr's art style is one of the most pleasant to view in independent comics today.  Clean, bold lines, clear storytelling and expressive characterization are par for the course in this work.  The artist's characters convincingly display concern, elation, joy, even exhaustion, to a degree that would be generally unexpected from what is a fairly simple art style. Perhaps the most attractive aspect of Tuesday, is that it is all-ages friendly.  No need to worry about so-called "adult" content, if the "kiddies" get 'hold of it.  Good fare for classrooms or the doctor's office.

      Tuesday is whole-heartedly recommended for all ages (except the youngest of children), and can be ordered through comic shops, or found at comic conventions, and online catalogs.

      Tuesday, published by Kim-Rehr Productions, 24 pages, no ads, $2.95.

       Review by Mark Allen


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