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Monday, July 07, 2008

Iron Man #26-30 - From 2000

("Mask" trade paperback)

Published by Marvel Comics, issues are 22 pages and priced at $2.25.

I'm thinking of a few words that aren't normally used to describe the mood of Iron Man, but certainly apply to issue #'s 26-30, a storyline entitled, "The Mask in the Iron Man." Creepy, chilling, disturbing, REFRESHING! The last three issues have been especially enjoyable, with events which caught many readers off their guard.

For years, wealthy industrialist Tony Stark has used his Iron Man identity to combat the forces of evil, and protect the innocent. But now, after counting on his armor as his primary weapon in this struggle, Stark finds it to be perhaps the most dangerous enemy he has every faced.

As a result of the Y2k bug, and a lighting strike, the armor is alive, and extremely menacing. During a fight with Whiplash, it overrides Stark's control, and, to it's creator's horror, mercilessly beats the villain to death (issue #28). What follows is a tale of how the creator tries to shut down his creation.

The armor first acts as a jealous, jilted lover, then decides that it can be Iron Man without Tony Stark (#'s 29- 30). The story culminates in a battle on a deserted island where Tony Stark pits frail human flesh and the powerful human mind against the pinnacle of his own technological achievement.

This is the most enjoyable Iron Man storyline that I have read in years. The persona of the armor lends a quality to the story similar to what you might get if you crossed Hal, the computer from "2001; A Space Odyssey," with Kathy Bates' character from "Misery." Quite bizarre.

This is new writer Joe Quesada's first storyline, and with it, he is off to a stellar beginning with ol' Shellhead. New artist Alitha Martinez also debuts in issue #29, as Sean Chen finishes up in #30.

If this is any indication of what we can expect from Quesada and Martinez, fans may want to take a serious look at Iron Man.

Review by Mark Allen

Peace Party - From 2000

Good things don't come in small press packages all of the time. Even when art and writing show promise and are entertaining, a comic's premise can damage it.

The premise of Peace Party is weak because multiculturalism is baloney.

Peace... is the story of two American Indians with an injured friend who stumble on a gangland murder. On that plot hangs a celebration of Indian beliefs simply because they are Indian beliefs.

Why is multiculturalism baloney? Culture is only a collection of man-made customs, a "usual way of behaving". But Truth is not subjective or dependent on the opinions of men.

If everyone believed a rock was an elephant, it would still be a rock. To build one's life around the arbitrary opinion of men is to build one's life on sand.

Peace Party #1 is priced at $2.95 and is 23 pages. Published by Blue Corn with words by Rob Schmidt, art by Ron Fattoruso and Rob Schmidt.

Lint McCree Mysteries #1 - From 2000

Priced at $2.95 and weighing-in at 24 pgs. Published by AKF Comics with art & concept by Nate Piekos. Plot assistance by Kain Medeiros.

Good things come in small press packages, sometimes.

That sometime is now, and the good thing mentioned is a gnarled old hero named Lint McCree in a city full of dynamic but self-centered young bloods.

Link and his partner, Sam Normal, are on the trail of a serial killer. That isn't a surprising development in the mystery genre. Nor is it surprising that there is little mystery in Lint McCree Mysteries. It may not be possible to develop a full-blown mystery within the limits of a 24 page comic book and still leave room for characterization.

Nor is it surprising that every other element of solid entertainment is full-blown in this title. Nice art and visual story telling are telling clues. Strong plot, characterization and dialog all add to the evidence that proves the original theory: McCree is a good thing in a small press package.


Review by Michael Vance

The Incredible Hulk vs. Superman - From 2000

Earlier, I extolled the virtues of a crossover comic book between. DC Comic's Superman and Marvel's Fantastic Four characters. That large folio-sized volume was a polished work (even if the title Superman- Fantastic Four was bland). There is now another, very different, joint enterprise entitled The Incredible Hulk vs. Superman.

Whereas the Fantastic Four volume was tall and glossy, the second title is in a more traditional size priced at $5.95. Readers are likely to divide sharply over its merits and all factions could be correct.

Roger Stern's script and Steve Rude's drawings remind me of the Hulk stories of the early 1960s when the character's potential had not been fully realized (I was never impressed by the original Hulk series that lasted only a few issues.)

Stern's plot turns on the idea that the Hulk and Superman are remarkably alike except that the Hulk is fated for failure and despair. Stern makes a good case and constantly compares and contrasts their careers.

Although there is no reference to this being either a DC "Elseworld" story or a Marvel "What If?" entry, this Hulk and Superman live and operate on the same world. That takes the story out of either company's continuity. The world seems more weighted toward Marvel's characters, the Avengers are mentioned, but the Justice League of America is not.

The story is, of course, a slugfest, not a battle of wits, even though Lex Luthor is present. The question of which hero is stronger is not resolved although many readers will remember the 1996 "DC versus Marvel" series in which Superman settled the question decisively.

Those who like efforts to recapture the spirit of early Marvel will also want Avengers 1.5, a story supposedly set between the first and second issues. The battle with Dr. Doom is fairly routine, but the script also explains the tension between Thor and the Hulk in the original series.

The art resembles Jack Kirby's but is not as good as the script.

Review by Dr. Jon Suter

Hyper Violents - From 2000

Shock me once, shame on you. Shock me twice, shame on me.

Shock me not at all, shame on Hyper Violents.

It's not the fault of this new anthology of horror stories, of course. What shocks once never really shocks again. That's why the 'splatter' movie series like Friday the 13th and Halloween continued to draw audiences only by escalating violence until that violence became ludicrous.

That's why Hyper Violents, a comic book of four short jabs to the stomach, won't frighten a jaded old codger, well insulated against shock.

Of these four vignettes, the first punch creates a living corpse as a magician's bout with a devil sours. The most violent and artistically interesting of the four stories, "Magic" delivers style instead of originality.

The pugilism of "War Crime" fairs little better as a military platoon faces their fate on a hell planet of blood and guts. Art diminishes its impact.

Is it a dream or real is the overused question of the third round of Hyper Violents. Although its art shows promise and the story rings with a sincerity that saves it from cliché, "Chronicles: Stephanie" is average at best.

A vampire killer kills vampires in "Bad Moon". Been there. Done that. Artistically the best piece, and with several nice dialog clips, it chills instead of splattering blood.

...8, 9, 10, yer out? For the young, this anthology is maybe a knockout. For seasoned readers, it's more like a pat on the back by an old friend.

Hyper Violents #1/$2.95, 32 pgs., CFD/various artists & writers/sold in comics shops and by mail.