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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Daredevil: The Man Without Fear - A Suspended Animation Review From 2004

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

Conan and Batman - Suspended Animation Reviews From 2004

After being at Marvel for over 30 years, the rights to Robert E. Howard's barbarian character Conan now reside at Dark Horse Comics. And, so far, this new comic age of the legendary Cimmerian is off to a particularly impressive start. I mean, with a 25-cent zero issue sporting an intriguing story and incredible artwork, how can comic fans, present and potential, go wrong?

It all begins with the caravan of a spoiled and bored prince, as it makes it's way through the west, where the city of Aquilonia once stood. Upon discovering a chamber in the ruins, the prince happens upon a statue of Conan, and becomes fascinated by his legend. Writer Kurt Busiek's characters are interesting, and this "appetizer" has me looking forward to the series.

Cary Nord's artwork on Conan is possibly the best seen since the character's first comic incarnation, under artist Barry Windsor Smith. Besides the attention to detail, and sense of realism, Nord's style is highly dramatic, and energetic, getting a further boost from the deep, rich colors by Dave Stewart. I don't really want to employ the over-used term "cinematic" in a description of this comic work, so it will have to suffice to say that this is what should be the look of the next Conan movie, come to comics.

Conan The Legend, published by Dark Horse Comics, 20 pages, 25 cents.

Batman #625

MINIVIEW: Batman - The latest storyline in D.C.'s Batman series is some of the best material the title has enjoyed for the last couple of years. Writer Brian Azzarello primarily writes crime comics, and is new to super heroes. I read somewhere about the unique way he is approaching the character; he just imagines the cape as a trench coat. It works. Batman is one of the few super heroes who are not out of place in a crime noir setting.

Published by D.C. Comics, 32 pages, $2.25. Due to some racy content, recommended for older readers. Find both titles at your local comic shop.

Reviews by Mark Allen