Saturday, March 31, 2007
My first impressions of Shark-Man upon spotting it at the local comics store: “Garish. Derivative of so many other comics that combine the name of an animal with ‘man’. Not worth my time.” Thus, I’ve once again learned the lesson that you truly can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Shark-Man is worthy of note.
Writers Ronald Shusett and Steve Pugh introduce readers to a futuristic city on the sea called New Venice and it’s founder Alan Gaskill, a multi-billionaire who also happens to be the mysterious hero known as Shark-Man. From the beginning, they weave a tale which includes the hero confronting hi-tech pirates, ravenous great white sharks, a city-wide “mutiny” of sorts and a murder mystery which..., well, you really should see for yourself. They also provide an intriguing cast of supporting characters and arrange for future events in a way that appears interesting enough to help keep things going. Bottom line: this was an entertaining story that hooked me (no pun intended) from page one.
Artist Steve Pugh, with assistance from Garry Leach, provide the visuals. Did I call the cover “garish?” Well, yes. May the artists forgive the time it took for my eyes to adjust to what is truly an elevated style when compared to most of what is on the racks today. The ultra-realistic art of Shark-Man grabs you, shakes you and demands you take notice of the incredible detail, amazing draftsmanship and dazzling color that abound on every page.
Is Shark-Man shockingly original? No. It is, in some obvious aspects, derivative. Is it a beautifully executed comic, with interesting characters, striking artwork and even a twist or two in the first issue? Without a doubt. It’s a thrill-ride in every sense of the word, folks. Hence the name of the publisher, I suppose.
Shark-Man is not, however, recommended for younger readers, due to some violent imagery. Find it at comics shops, online retailers and auctions or at www.thrillhousecomics.com .
Graphic Classics: Jack London/$11.95, 144 pgs., Eureka Productions/various artists and writers/sold in bookstores, and comics shops
Fifty pages of new material have been added to an earlier published collection of adventure stories by Jack London. In his day, he was the most popular writer in America, and is best remembered for fiction that pits man and beast against nature.
These stories are well adapted, but their impact is sometimes weakened by non-climatic endings (London’s fault) and very cartoonish (i.e. minimalistic) art that dilutes the illusion of reality.
This volume is recommended for Jack London fans. Check it out at www.graphicclassics.com.
The Dreamland Chronicles: Book One/285 pgs. and $19.95 from Blue Dream/art and story by Scott Christian Sava/available in comics shops and bookstores
Alex falls asleep to awaken to adventure in his dreams! This classic theme (possibly the origin of all storytelling) is explored in The Dreamland Chronicles: Book One, a massive volume closer in style to Peter Pan than The Lord of the Rings.
In Dreamland, Alex battles a Cyclops, wields a magic sword, and travels through imaginary realms with a rock giant, a fairy, and a Princess. Only Alex’s twin brother believes this Dreamland is real.
The storytelling, both through words and pictures, is entertaining and flawless, but it is Scott Sava’s art that is unique in comics, and stunning. It is computer generated, looks almost three-dimensional, and is guaranteed to glue the attention of readers of all ages to every page.
In fact, the art is so riveting that it initially distracts from the story.
It is a distraction that quickly vanishes into a world of awe and wonder and fun, which, frankly, should be the result of almost every comic book.
The Dreamland Chronicles wins the highest possible recommendation for readers of all ages. Check it out at www.thedreamlandchronicles.com.
Review By Michael Vance