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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Moving Fortress

From time to time, I like to review past comics works for Suspended Animation, simply because no one out there has read everything, and I like giving leads on great work. I mean, I've been a comics fan for over 30 years and I'm still finding material I've never even heard of. So, along those lines, I thought I'd start including "classic" S.A. reviews that were written long before this blog came along. You'll be seeing these pop up on a regular basis. Some will be written by myself, Michael Vance and some by John Suter. I hope you enjoy them.

Mark Allen


Back in 1988, writer Ricardo Barreiro and artist Enrique Alcatena worked together to produce one of the most incredible comic book stories in the history of the medium. What's sad about this is that your average comic reader has probably never even heard of the work. Heck, I've been indulging in the medium for over 25 years, and I just discovered it.

Moving Fortress, published by 4 Winds Publishing Group, first appeared in an anthology magazine called Skorpio, published in South America and Europe. It was later translated and collected in graphic novel form for American readers.

Bask De Avregaut is making his way across a lonely desert wilderness in his aerostat (a hot air balloon with sails), when his craft is shot out of the sky and he is taken prisoner by warlord Emir Basileo, the ruler of an incredible, city-sized mobile fortress. Waging a war against a rival lord in an attempt to rescue his abducted bride, the Emir has Bask tossed into the belly of his great fortress, to stoke the fires in it's boiler room. Proving himself as an accomplished cannoneer in battle, however, Bask earns the respect, and even admiration of the Emir and his crew.

This is the kind of comic work that helps define the medium as an art form. Barreiro's characters are visually captivating, thanks to Alcatena's deft hand, and their motivations are convincing.

Plot-wise, the book is almost perfect. From page one, the reader is drawn in, and held fast throughout the work.

Alcatena's black and white artwork demonstrates his near-mastery of the craft, with a depth, texture and sense of detail rarely seen in comics.

Self-contained, and entertaining from beginning to end, Moving Fortress is a work whole-heartedly recommended for those who enjoy good comics, or simply a well-crafted story.

Look for this book at your local comic shop (1-888-comicbook to locate it), bookstores, trade catalogs, comic conventions, or online retailers and auctions.

Moving Fortress, published by 4 Winds Publishing Group, 55 pages, $8.98.

Review by Mark Allen.

Originally posted in 2001 at

Avengers Reborn

Those who have followed the Marvel animated movies (Avengers, Iron Man, Doctor Strange) will be pleased to hear that a new venture is making it's way to the dvd aisle next summer. Or, will they?

Avengers Reborn, set in the future, tells the story of a new generation of heroes who jump into the spotlight when the originals (their parents, as I understand) are killed in action. This premise seems to have already upset some comics fans, since it's not "their" characters that will be featured. Upon my "Googling" of the movie, the very first two message boards I came across were rife with fanboys complaining that the characters were unfamiliar or that the creative team was inept. Nothing like torching something before it even comes out, huh?

The way I see it, a concept such as this can have a few advantages: Bringing younger fans into the fold of comics fandom. Expanding the minds of sometimes-closed-minded fans who are set in their ways to the nth degree. Or, heck, even helping us to appreciate the originals that much more.

I say kudos to Marvel for taking this step. I, for one, will be eager to view Avengers Reborn. Here's hoping my five-year-old daughter can watch it with me.

See an Avengers Reborn first look.