Headlines   2004 Review Index   January 7, 2004
Suspended Animation &

Michael Vance

Mark Allen

Michael Vance Books

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Tarzan: Le Monstre

     Tarzan. One of the oldest, most beloved pulp characters in American pop culture, it once seemed to me that nothing more could really be done with him, even in comic form. Until a very short time ago, that is. You see, I recently picked up the collection of the five-issue miniseries, Tarzan: Le Monstre, from Dark Horse Comics. It's a fan-pleaser, beginning with the beautiful Michael Kaluta cover, and ending with sketches by Le Monstre artists Stan Manoukian and Vince Roucher, and a gallery of the original single-issue covers by comic greats Berni Wrightson, Mark Schultz, and the afore-mentioned Kaluta.

     Inside, readers will find the King of the Jungle hobnobbing with Pablo Picasso, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Nikola Tesla, and confronting such adversaries as The Phantom of the Opera, the Monster of Frankenstein, Mr. Hyde and...Thomas Edison?!?

     Well, you'll just have to read it now, won't you?

     While I am, by no means, an expert on the character of Tarzan, I am a long-time fan. That being said, writer Lovern Kindzierski's treatment does not feel like a watered-down version of Burroughs' creation. Instead, the ape-man is treated with the utmost respect to his roots, the work, at times, referencing The Jungle Tales of Tarzan, the sixth Tarzan book (according to online-literature.com).

     The insertion of historical figures into various fictional settings makes for an even more entertaining romp, as it makes suspension of disbelief that much easier for the engrossed fan.

     Manoukian and Roucher do a wonderful job of capturing the suave, civilized Duke of Greystoke, as well as the "savage" that stirs beneath the surface. The bold, detailed style finely protrays the macabre nature of the villainy within the pages, as well as the wonder of early 20th century Paris and New York City. Recommended for adults, due to some racy content, and graphic scenes of violence.

     Look for Tarzan: Le Monstre at comic shops, bookstores, comic conventions and online auctions. Tarzan: Le Monstre, published by Dark Horse Comics, 160 pages, $16.95.

     Review by Mark Allen

Killer Stunts Incorporated

     What do the first issue of a comic book series, Killer Stunts, and the first five minutes of a television show or movie have in common?

     They both must grip the interest of its audience or all is lost.

     This title from a new publisher is about a young, charismatic daredevil who jumps over things with his motor-cycle for the movies and always walks away unscathed. That's because Billy Andrews is already dead.

     On the surface, he seems a clean-cut young man, partially because of the minimalist, clean-cut art and lack of profanity and blood. Hurrah! 

     Indeed, in style only, Killer Stunts may remind one of the old TV show Johnny Danger. Dialogue is believable, and the plot is crisp, well paced, and interesting,

     Billy is also much desired as a new member of The League of Immortals despite the fact that he doesn't want to join. Another nice plot twist!  Hurrah for the creative team again!

     All of this is dressed in a deceptively simple, uncluttered art style reminiscent of the best Saturday morning cartoons when there was such a thing.

     Although one plot twist is a bit long-in-the-tooth (hint), the first issue of Killer Stunts is a gripping introduction to a new series, and is recommended for all but the youngest reader.

     Killer Stunts Incorporated #1 (of 4)/$2.95 & 22 pgs. from Pulp Mag Press/story: Alan Scott; Art: David Hahn/available at comics shops and www.killerstunts.com.

     Review by Michael Vance


     MINIVIEW: Oliver [Top Shelf] Obscure dreams for those of eclectic taste drawn in scratchy doodles. Its symbolism, if any, escapes this reviewer.

     Review by Michael Vance


     MINIVIEW, TOO: Magic Boy & The Robot Elf [Top Shelf] Deceptively packaged like a child's book, this bizarre essay on "a withering sack of flesh" (an old man) is insightful, foolish and profane. His adventure part fact and part dream, a decrepit, lonely man builds a robot of himself that reflects only the beast in him. Robot Elf proceeds to wreck reality. Profanity, nudity, sex.

     Review by Michael Vance


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