Friday, November 25, 2005

REVIEWING: "America's Best Comics"/Part Two




SMAX Limited Series (Published by America's Best Comics; 5 issues published monthly from October, 2003 - May, 2004; Written by Alan Moore; Illustrated by Zander Cannon. Scott Dunbier, Editor.)

This series deals with the adventure of a blue-skinned demi-ogre named Jaffs ("Jeff") Smax and his companion, a young girl named Robyn Slinger, who live in a city (or close abouts) called Neopolis, which is a combination of aspects of various dimensions and futuristic society.

The focus of this tale is when "Jeff" decides to return to his own dimensional plane to attend the funeral of his uncle, and asks Robyn to accompany him. We discover that when they reach their destination that Jeff's dimension is actually a fairie-world, complete with elves, unicorns and all other manner of beings one would expect to see in such a land.

And when they arrive at his home in this land, Robyn then sees that Jeff's parents are dwarves, but he has a seven foot, blue-skinned sister, much like some amazon goddess, who knows Jeff in more than just a "sisterly manner".

During this tale we discover just why it is that Jaffs (or, Jeff, as he prefers to call himself in the other dimension) left home as his origin unfolds.

It appears that his mother was a warrior-woman who went to kill a terrible ogre, who in turn kills and eats her horse, breaks her magic sword and rapes her causing the pregnancy of the twins: Jaffs and Rexa. For some reason the ogre feels pity on the woman afterwards and takes her with him to his cave where the birth of the twins kills her, but the ogre keeps them around, beating them on occasion and when Rexa turns thirteen, begins forcing her to have sex with him.

Naturally, Jaffs and Rexa hate their ogre father very much, and Jaffs takes her and they run away, only to come back later and finally succeed in destroying the terrible creature.

The twins are eventually adopted by a kindly dwarf family and Jaffs goes out to make extra money for his familiy by becoming a dragon slayer, and is quite good at this occupation, until one day a woman asks him to save her nine year old dather that has been given to the horrible dragon, "Morningbite" as a sacrafice.

During his encounter with the dragon and attempt to save the child, flames from the dragon kill the girl, and disheartened by the act, Jaffs leaves his home dimension.

This, as well, leaves him with many issues unsettled, and the remainder of this series deals with organizing a quest to return to Morningbite's lair and destroying him for good.

At first, this series began to read like the Vertigo-DC series, Fables, but quickly turned much "darker" in its content. It's not the best thing I've ever read from the pen of Alan Moore, but it is certainly far from his worst. The ending may have been a little rushed, but was still satisfying, and the artwork at times has that little "touch" of Scott McCloud that reminds me of his characters from Zot! and is quite nice, and the coloring by Ben Dimagmaliw, and script-type lettering by Todd Klein fares very well. Overall I give this series a: B+ and recommend it. (Thus far, I've yet to find anything from America's Best Comics' line that I haven't enjoyed.)

I will have further reviews of various titles from this company which include series such as: Tom Strong, and Tom Strong Terrific Tales, Promethea, Top 10, the second series of Terra Obscura, and the first series of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to come in future posts.


In other comic book news, I've read that DC is cancelling both their current runs of The Flash and Wonder Woman, and, of course, #18 is the last issue of The Doom Patrol. Also DC's decided to dredge out that lame 70's S&S character, "Claw" and team him up with Marvel's "Red Sonja", and there's to be a "Batman/The Spirit" team-up (that may prove sorta interesting). And the current run of Superman will be renumbered with (I think) the February, 2006 issue to match up with the original numbering of the first voulume of the title (which was discontinued back in the 1980's with issue #423), and The Adventures of Superman book will be discontinued. I really hate that when a company pulls such. Marvel did this when they discontinued the original run of Thor and changed the title back to Journey Into Mystery, only to discontinue that title as well, and then resume the original volume with a continuing number from volume one. The main reason this peaves me is that as a collector, "where" does on put these books in one's collections? Put V2 inbetween V1 and the continuing numbering? I imagine comic book dealers who have shops hate this as well. They have buyers asking, "Hey? What happened to the 225 issues between such and such?!

Of course, we know "why" companies do this. It's to drag in new readers with the thought that they're getting in from the start by buying a No.1 comic. Perhaps "some day" these companies will remember that not all of their older fans have died or stopped buying comics, but are still the backbone of their readers.

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