Headlines   2003Review Index   June 18, 2003
Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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Review Index 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998
Gordon of Gotham

     Those who are even remotely familiar with the Batman character will probably have heard of Commissioner James Gordon.  A tough-as-nails veteran cop, he plays a prominent role in the Batman mythos, as the caped crusader's friend and ally.  And, while he's been spotlighted, to some extent, in the past, it may never have been done quite so well as in D.C.'s four-issue mini series, Gordon of Gotham, published in 1998.

     While set in Batman's world, however, this is no super hero tale; it is a gritty, entertaining cop yarn, sure to please the most demanding fan of that genre. 

     In the story, the reader is taken back to Gordon's days as a young officer on the Chicago Police Force.  Suspecting a fellow officer of involvement in illegal activities, he begins to dig for evidence, and becomes the target of said officer and his cohorts.  Add to all of this an international assassin, who seems to have a penchant for saving Gordon's life, and becomes "the one that got away," and you have the makings of an engrossing read, with an element of redemption for the hero. 

     Writer Denny O'Neil, one of the best known Bat-scribes in comics, does a wonderful job of bringing all of the above elements together into an intelligent and involving adventure.  His characterization and dialogue are involving and believable.   Meanwhile, artists Dick Giordano and Klaus Janson (also veterans of the world of Batman) provide the perfect dramatic style for such a tale; realistic and forbidding, with great shadowing and plenty of impressively-jawed bad guys.

     Best of all, I found every issue in my favorite comic shop's bargain bin.  These days, fans really can't afford to overlook the potential of the 25 cent box. 

     Gordon of Gotham is recommended for those who enjoy good police drama and adventure.  Find it in the back issue section of your comic shop, or at your favorite online auction site.

     Gordon of Gotham, published by D.C. Comics, 32 pages; back issues, so prices vary.

     Review by Mark Allen    

Hate Annual #3

     MINIVIEW: Hate Annual #3 [Fantagraphics]. Acerbic but insightful social commentary filled with profane subject matter and peppered with nastiness, this is not for children.

     Review by Michael Vance


     "Halle, an artificially created human, was joined with a young Aesirian named Tau—a powerful being with the ability to exist on several dimensional planes at once."

     It's a shame that readers don't learn that Halle (a female warrior) is an artificially created human until page 137 of the comic book compilation Zendra 2.0: Heart of Fire.

     It is an even greater shame readers will learn that this is a collection of six issues from the second story arc in the series. They'll learn that from an advertisement in the back of Heart of Fire if they read the advertisement.

     It's a crying shame because readers shouldn't have to struggle through a story deducing major plot elements that could have been revealed in a simple introduction. It substantially weakens an otherwise interesting Science Fiction war epic.

     That Zendra is another SF war epic doesn't help either. Because there have been so many of these, this sub genre screams for original twists to remain interesting for well-read fans.

     There are few original twists in Zendra.

     There is nice art greatly enhanced by excellent color, competent story and very strong characterization.  You may be particularly interested in the character of Zendra herself. There are a number of simple, illustrated short stories that also flesh out the history behind this series, and lots of nice pin-up artwork related to the story by various artists.  But a nagging question remains despite the nice packaging. 

     Is this book worth its price for readers who are not new to this sub genre?

     The answer, my friend, is blowing in your subjective wind.

     Zendra 2.0 Heart of Fire/$24.95 & 201 pgs from Penny Farthing Press /written by Stuart Moore, art by Martin Montiel/sold in comic book stores and at www.pfpress.com.

     Review by Michael Vance


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