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Headlines   2004 Review Index   Nov 17, 2004
Suspended Animation

Michael Vance

Mark Allen

Michael Vance Books

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Shooting Star Anthology #4

     Find yourself a reviewer that you clearly agree with or disagree with on the majority of their reviews. I hope you'll choose Suspended Animation.

     I also hope you'll agree that this comics anthology is bang up fun.

     Shooting Star features nine stories by twenty creators. Each story runs from one to fifteen pages in length with an overall focus on adventure.

     The style of most of the artwork is reality-based with visually solid story telling throughout. Some of the artwork is mellow, as dictated by the needs of the story, and some feature lots of jumping around. It is fair to say that most of the gamut of comic book art styles is covered in this collection with my favorites including "Idol Hands" (J. D. Dupras - lots of jumping), "Video Game Girls" (Jeffrey Moy - Japanese influenced), and "No Great Shakes" (Phil Meadows—mellow, dude!).

     Your favorites may differ.

     Stylistically, the writing is all over the place. Most of the pieces are well told with some exaggerated dialog, and most are traditional in their presentation. There are no Flaming Carrot, Herbie or underground avant-garde stories within.

     It is a crying shame you probably won't buy Shooting Star. All of the first comic book titles were anthologies, but the form has long fallen into disfavor, and almost no anthology title survives for long.

     It is a shame because some wonderful work has appeared between the pages of comics anthologies, and in short story collections as well.

     If you don't buy, it is your loss.

     Shooting Star #4 is recommended for anyone who is still young at heart.

     (Best of luck to the creators within these pages. I am convinced we'll see your work again in the wonderfully creative and frustrating world of comic books.)

     Shooting Star [Comics Anthology] #4/64 pgs. & $4.95 from Shooting Star Comics/sold at comics shops and at

     Review by Michael Vance - Vance has been nominated for the '04 SLF Fountain Award for Best Short Story. For info on his work, send a query to

The Moth

     I think Steve Rude has what deserves to be a winner on his hands. I say "what deserves to be," because not everything that deserves to make it in the comics industry hits a home run. All kinds of reasons for that, really, but I won't talk about them here.

     Instead, let's talk about Steve Rude's The Moth, and see if this column can do it's part in helping a fine comic find a lasting audience.

     Jack Mahoney was raised in the circus, saved from himself by a ringmaster who wanted to see a juvenile delinquent reach his potential as an acrobat. Now, using his gymnastic skill to make it as a costumed crime-fighter-type, he strikes terror into the hearts of wrong-doers as "The Moth."  Ok, so maybe he just kicks them around, a little. The Moth certainly has what would seem to be the makings of a hit, beginning with clever writing and interesting characterization. I mean, really, where do you find more interesting characters than in a circus, where the hero resides?  There is also the promise of interesting storylines to come (Wait until you find out what Jack does with the money he earns as the Moth). Combine that with slam-bang action, intrigue, and plain ol' fun, and all you have left is the art; and what wonderful art it is!  Steve Rude has a smooth, seamless style that hints to readers that he grew up on Hannah-Barberra cartoons. Clean, bold lines, vibrantly proclaiming originality of style, Rude "The Dude" treats fans to something they only see from him. Refreshing, yes?  My only complaint?  We don't see enough of his work, today.

     The Moth is recommended for any and all readers who like intelligently written stories with great action and art. Trust me: this is not just another super hero book. Do yourself (and Steve) a favor and check it out. Find it at comic shops, online catalogs, or at

     The Moth, published by Dark Horse Comics, 28 pages, $2.99.

    Review by Mark Allen


     Cooper Santiago is the proprietor of a company called "Supernova Solutions," offering superhuman services to those with various problems. While he never seems to have difficulty enlisting individuals with extraordinary powers, the company has had it's share of mishaps with it's enhanced employees. Santiago has a secret of his own, however, and it has to do with how he acquires his "super heroes."  And, it's probably not what you would expect. I didn't.

     Touch is one of D.C. Comics new "D.C. Focus" series. And, while I'm not sure why the powers-that-be felt this book needed to be set in a different universe, it doesn't really matter. It's a strong book, and an entertaining reading experience.

     Writer John Francis Moore crafts likeable, human characters with strengths as well as glaring weaknesses. And, while many attempts at placing super heroic characters in the "real world" have been a bust, this particular project has the feel of authenticity to it. Moore makes it easy for the reader to suspend disbelief, and enjoy the ride.

     Complimenting the story are the pencils of Prentis Rollins. Dramatic and expressive, Rollins work engages the reader well, while his storytelling technique and panel arrangement can be seen improving just within the first three issues. If I had to guess, I'd say the artist enjoys his work.

     If I could change one thing, it would be the coloring. The seemingly-three-color process is, in my opinion, too subdued for this book. It sets an entirely different mood than what would seem to be appropriate. If the book is supposed to be "dark," it only comes across in the coloring, not the content.

     Overall, Touch is a worthy endeavor, and worth the admission price. Recommended for all but the youngest readers, it will be enjoyed by those who enjoy action/adventure, super heroics, and good characterization. Find it at comic shops, online catalogues, or at For the comic shop near you, call 1-888-comicbook.

     Touch, published by D.C. Comics, 32 pages, $2.50.

    Review by Mark Allen

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