Headlines   2003 Review Index   December 17, 2003
Suspended Animation &

Michael Vance

Mark Allen

Michael Vance Books

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Review Index 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998
Action Comics Annual #1

     Another trip down memory lane approaches.  Why? Because one becomes so involved in new comics, that it's just too easy to overlook the gems of the past. Gems like D.C. Comics' 1987 Action Comics Annual, starring the company's flagship characters, Superman and Batman.

     In the story, the small town of Fayerville has a problem; people are afraid to go out at night.  Afraid to sleep.  Most of all, however, they distrust "outsiders."  Why?  It seems the townspeople are being prayed upon by a supernatural entity of the "toothy" variety. 

     The two heroes meet in Fayerville to confront the problem, and to take part in what is, in my opinion, one of the best super hero stories ever done.

     What's particularly entertaining about this tale?

     Primarily, it's Batman and Superman in their most appealing forms. 

     Published shortly after Superman was revamped in the late '80's, the Kryptonian is no longer a god-like being, seemingly invulnerable to any villain or attack.  In fact, in his "re-fined" form, he is vulnerable to magic, and faces mortal danger at the hands of the blood-sucking villain.  This is an intriguing view of the Man of Steel, at odds with something unusual to him, and practically dependent upon the Dark Knight.

     Batman is also exactly what he should be; a dark vigilante, a creature of the night, who, appropriately enough, seems not the least bit out of place hunting vampires. 

     The two characters contrast each other perfectly, thus complimenting one another.  Kudos to writer John Byrne, the man also responsible for Supes' re-envisioning.

     The icing on the cake is the work of long-time comic book artist Arthur Adams.  His highly-detailed, and dramatic style fit the book perfectly, and his grasp of character expression helps put the "horror" in this horror story.

     Action Comics Annual, 1987, published by D.C. Comics, 48 pages, original price $1.25. Recommended for those who enjoy super hero action, and/or a good, old-fashioned chill to the bones. 

     Call 1-888-comicbook for a comic shop near you. Also available online at www.milehighcomics.com.

     Review by Mark Allen

Alan Moore's Writing For Comics Part 1

     If its editor had read Moore closely, he'd have known that Writing For Comics is not a graphic novel as touted on this magazine's back cover. It is not even a comic book. Its random illustrations don't even follow the text. It is an essay, an opinion, about how to write comic books from one of the best  and most prolific writers of comic books. Among his works are Watchmen, Another Suburban Night-mare, and Supreme.

     Among many subjects, Moore discusses the technical aspects of writing for comics, the differences of writing comics as compared to other media, and plot and characterization.

     That other comics writers will have other, conflicting opinions does not negate the value of Moore's beliefs. Conflicting opinions are the stuff of style; without them, everyone would write exactly the same way. If you should choose to write exactly as does Moore after reading his essay, you will have missed his point completely. Moore ends with a new back-word reflecting on how his early ideas have changed in two decades.  His conclusion?  Ignore everything in the essay.  Ummmmmm. Interesting.

     So what is the value of Writing for Comics?

     "For fans of Moore's work," opines the back-cover blurb, "new writers, or anyone interested in comics, this book is an indispensable and fascinating peak [it should read peek] into the thoughts of one of the masters of comic book writing."

     Exactly right, except this isn't a book either.  Writing for Comics is highly recommended.

     Alan Moore's Writing For Comics Part 1/$5.95 & 47 pgs. from Avatar Comics/illustrated by Jacen Burrows/ sold at www.avatarpress.com and comic shops.

     Review by Michael Vance

     MINIVIEW: Monkey vs. Robot: and the Crystal of Power [Top Shelf]. An adult story packaged as if for children, the doodle simplicity of this allegory about the war between nature and science opens the door to deeper reflection.

     Review by Michael Vance

    MINIVIEW, TOO: Sketchbook Diaries #3 [Top Shelf]  A record of boring mundane events drawn in a minimalist, child-like style. Profanity.

     Review by Michael Vance


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