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Headlines   2004 Review Index   June 17, 2004
Suspended Animation

Michael Vance

Mark Allen

Michael Vance Books

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Daredevil, The Man Without Fear

      As a boy, Matt Murdock was mischievous and adventurous. He had an inexplicable urge to feel his blood pumping in his ears, as he answered the city's mysterious call; a call he didn't understand.  He also had a prizefighting father, whom he loved very much.  It didn't matter that he was past his prime, or that he sometimes seemed saddened by memories of a woman Matt never knew.  Something else Matt never knew, however, was that his father was forced into working for the mob, in order to protect him. But something happens to Matt that allows him to address the issues of his adventurous nature, as well as the injustices done to his father; an accident involving dangerous chemicals and Matt's heroic nature.  Without going into detail, Daredevil is born.

      Written by Frank Miller, who is well-known for his comic work (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Ronin, and Sin City), as well as some movie work (Robocop 2), and is also the man who was largely responsible for Daredevil's resurgence of popularity in the late '70's, Daredevil, M.W.F. is every bit as entertaining to read as any comic material out there, today.

      Interesting characters in the '60's, made even more so by Miller's "fleshing out" of them, with believable personalities and dialogue. 

      Artist John Romita, Jr. seems the perfect penciller for this story.  A top talent in the industry, his style lends itself to the grim, the morose, even, at times, the depressing. Traits that are ideal for this street-level crime story.  No, it's not a "feel-good" tale; but it is darned entertaining to read.

      The only other thing I can say about the art is John Jr. must have felt honored to have his pencils inked by comics great Al Williamson, whose volume of work stretches back to comics' Golden Age, and won't be covered here.

      The Man Without Fear is a great introduction to Daredevil for new readers.  I recommended for those who enjoy crime stories, great drama, and high action. 

      Daredevil, The Man Without Fear, published by Marvel Comics, 160 pages, $15.95.

      Review by Mark Allen

Para #1

      Spoiler warning!! The following review will reveal that Para #1 is an excellent comic book.  If you don't want to know that a comic book is excellent before you buy it, don't read this review.

      Since her father's death, a young woman searches for the reason a disaster inside a super-collider killed him. After two decades, her father's friend allows her and a research team into the abandoned facility.  What they find launches a new title from Penny-Farthing Press that promises to be one of the best published in 2004.

      Your only disappointment, like mine, may be that mutants with super-powers will be discovered deep within that super-collider.

      Nevertheless, if you are uninterested in intriguing plot and characterization, crisp dialog, and flawless storytelling, then this new title is not for you. And if you are uninterested in distinctive and internally consistent art, excellent coloring, and flawless visual storytelling, then ignore Para at your comic book shop. 

      Para is highly recommended.

      Para #1/$2.95 & 32pgs. Words: Stuart Moore; Art: Pablo Villalobos. Sold at and in comics shops.

      Review by Michael Vance

MINIVIEW: The Bristol Board Jungle [NBM] "Reality TV" has come to comic books. This paper documentary is about students butting heads with the real work involved in producing a comic book, and was created by a real college class at the Savanna College of Art & Design. That means that The Bristol Board is a fanzine (a magazine produced by amateurs) with high production values. 

      But it is more. While it's true that the stories within the larger context of this graphic novel are too short and unpolished to entertain on their own, that larger story is entertaining.

      Its strength lies not in the superhero, 'indie' or manga/shojo girlie styles of art and story, but in the extremely well done characterization of the students and their interplay in and outside of the classroom. 

      Comic book fans and budding cartoonists should see much of them-selves in The Bristol Board.

      Review by Michael Vance


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