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Friday, May 22, 2009

Suspended Animation Reviews of Johnny Raygun, From 2004 and 2005

"What's gonna happen when Johnny squares off against…THE MENACE OF THE MIGHTY MOOG!" Johnny Raygun #1.

My fifteen-year mission has been to recommend comic books that adults might enjoy who don't read them. Therefore:

Johnny Raygun Red Flag #1: Most adults don't care about THE MIGHTY MOOG or characters with silly, capitalized names. In fact, most adults don't read fantasy, SF, horror, super-hero or adventure based literature. Neither are they fond of spandex-clad super-anything's or pun-laden dialogue. Sales figures don't lie.

Johnny Raygun Red Flag #2: Most adults don't read comic books, and won't understand the dozens of clever, subtle, visual and verbal jokes that require an extensive knowledge of comic books. As example, they won't understand that The Moog is both homage to and a parody of artist and writer Jack Kirby and the monsters he created for Marvel Comics in the '50s and '60s.

Johnny Raygun Red Flag #3: Most adults equate thick-lined, minimalistic art (even when it is excellent) with Saturday morning cartoons, and those are for children.

Johnny Raygun Yellow Flag #1: If, however, you do enjoy a loving but tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted ad-venture centered around spandex-clad, pun-slinging heroes who require five decades worth of knowledge about comics titles and characters to fully appreciate, you must surrender and buy this well-drawn and written little sucker.

This fun romp and Johnny Raygun #2 (just released) are recommended for the young and the young at heart. MV

Johnny Raygun #1/22pgs. for $2.95 from Jetpack Press/story and art by Rich Woodall and Matt Talbot/sold at and comic book shops.

Review By Micheal Vance


I've found a new comic to love! I know "love" is a strong word, but Johnny Raygun was a very pleasant surprise. A few months ago, I opted for a bonus pack solicited in Diamond's Preview Magazine. The pack included four different Johnny Raygun comics, all of which were worth the cover price, much less the deal I got. (By the way, if you order through Diamond's catalogue, give an independent publisher a break, and try their product. One untried independent every month or two is a good rule.)

It's the far-flung future, and the universe is protected by an organization of intergalactic law enforcement officers called "Raygun Agents." One of the most colorful, enthusiastic, and innovative of the lot is young Johnny Raygun. While sporting all of the afore-mentioned qualities, Johnny also, at times, fails to take dangerous situations as seriously as necessary. But, hey, that's because he's having fun!

And so will you, when you take a gander at this sumptuous solicitation of sequential art! Johnny Raygun creator and writer Rich Woodall knows how to pen an entertaining all-ages tale, without sacrificing the fun. His characters are interesting and used very well to establish a sense of history in the Raygun universe. Actually, the main character is almost eclipsed by an engaging support cast.

Artist Matt Talbot possesses a wonderfully unique style that combines highly expressive, somewhat "cartoony" art with an obvious understanding of human anatomy. He is also one of those artists who works well with black and white interiors; no visually "garbled" panels, a good sense of shading and depth, and nice thick, definitive lines. This is the most whimsical, enjoyable "futuristic space adventures" comic I've read since I first discovered Scott Conley's Astounding Space Thrills (check it out, too!).

Johnny Raygun is recommended for any and all readers who love fun stories, fun characters, fun artwork,! Find it at comic shops or at to order your copies today!

Johnny Raygun, published by Jetpack Press, 32 pages, $2.95.

Review by Mark Allen

This Week's Suspended Animation - Daredevil, by Kesel and Nord

Daredevil Volume 1, issues 353-365, published by Marvel Comics, 32 pages, prices vary.

Daredevil is one of Marvel Comics’ oldest and most endearing characters. Originally, he was the carefree swashbuckling hero. Along the way, however, he became the dark, gritty, Batman-like street-level crime fighter.

For those who may have hopped off the D.D. bandwagon at the time of his more realistic turn, may I suggest Daredevil Volume 1, issues 353 through 365, from 1996-97. These issues represent a return to the character’s roots, and were (primarily) created by the team of Karl Kesel (writer) and Cary Nord (artist).

Under Kesel’s direction, Daredevil once again became the fearless, smile-inducing, devil-may-care hero who could trade quips with anyone. After years of the darkness and near-psychoses which seemed to plague the character and his title, this was a welcome change. Kesel also worked wonders with the book’s support cast, making them more interesting than they had been in several years, and kept readers hooked with more than one interesting plot line.

The art style of Cary Nord is, in my estimation, one of the best the series has ever seen. Nord had a realistic style that fit the book by giving the setting a gloomy, morose appearance. “What’s that, mister reviewer? Didn’t you just imply that Daredevil had been made too dark?” Yes I did, and I assert again that the CHARACTER works better when he is lighthearted, because he then becomes a foil for the urban setting of Hell’s Kitchen, which SHOULD be characterized by the unsettling shadows and tones which Nord used. A hopeful character in a depressed setting is more evocative than one who simply reflects what is around him.

Incidentally, the artist excelled at drawing the book’s action sequences, as well as the more subdued scenes, (such as courtroom appearances) about which he has since said he enjoyed equally.

This particular run of Daredevil is recommended for purists who were fond of the character “in the day”, as well as any who simply enjoy well-done superhero fare.

Review by Mark Allen