Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #34 - May 1998
|Sleeping Giant Comics
In a world where superheroes are under contract to protect
their cities (or other municipalities), the best group Philadelphia
can afford in their ongoing battle with New York City is a team
of... unusual... heroes calling themselves "Threshold". The New
York Super Syndicate has dozens of powerful heroes all
registered with the Establishment (the superhero registry). Threshhold
has four heroes who barely seem able to toast a Pop-Tart.
But Threshold take themselves seriously, and as they take on
villains both terrifying and bizarre, they wrestle with moral
dilemmas, jurisdictional disputes, membership problems, and
troubles both mundane and esoteric. And while Threshold
squabble and wrestle and attempt to replace a resigning member, some
second-rate villains leave New York en route to Philly, figuring
they may have a chance against a team like Threshold.
A recipe for disaster? More like a formula for fun!
Tight and realistic stories (if any superhero story can be called
"realistic") as heroes deal with rent, meals, contracts, high
expectations, success and failure, truth and consequences, pride and
David has a real flair for mixing the absurd with the everyday,
and for writing characters who are just under that line of
excellence. Every story comes chock full of action and adventure,
from the overwhelming and mysterious villain in "The Stamp
Collector" to the sinister conspiracy of misinformation in
"Nico-Teen". But what makes Threshold work is all the stuff that
happens in between the fights - and it works wonderfully.
All art ©1998 by David Yurkovich
Threshold is a series of series David has been working on for
years (the first issue was in 1996), and the time he's taken
between the series shows. His art has begun to solidify into a
quirky, thick blend of angular faces and wrinkled shirts, heading
towards a sort of Ted McKeever look and feel. With
straightforward layouts and static backgrounds, the story pulls the reader
along here through the competent but still unexceptional art.
Threshold reads as though Keith Giffen is scripting from
Grant Morrison plots on "Doom Patrol Meets Justice League
Europe", with art by Ted McKeever. The touches of "reality" will
resonate with readers of Astro City and even the old Ultraverse
books, while the odd heroes and villains will attract readers of
Odd Adventure-Zine, Trouble With Girls, Zot!, and maybe even
The Tick and X-Files. The darker tone may appeal to fans of the
"Heroes Noir" tales of late, such as U.S. and Kingdom Come,
and the constant real-world-style dilemmas and problems which
the team encounters will tickle readers of Peter David's work.
Threshold also crosses over with Death By Chocolate (see next
page) and may likewise appeal to readers of X-Files.
If you like Threshold, take a look at:
Death By Chocolate
|Sleeping Giant Comics
A happy single chocolate maker receives an invitation to tour
a secret Swiss chocolate-making plant, and discovers the
terrifying secret to their fabulous chocolate: they've captured an alien
being who crashed on Earth, and are using it in their chocolate
vats. In his attempt to escape the plant, he falls into the burning
chocolate - but instead of dying he is somehow "melded" with the
alien consciousness, turning him into a man of living chocolate,
with the power to turn anything else into solid chocolate.
His return to his hometown takes a turn for the worse as he
loses control of his power in a fit of anger, killing everyone in the
town as he transforms them into chocolate (the unliving kind). As
he attempts to commit suicide shortly thereafter, the FBI finds
him, and recruits him.
Teamed with Agent Anderson, he begins to investigate
chocolate-related incidents for the Bureau -- and there are more of
those than you might think!
David seems particularly skilled at taking one absurd notion (the
origin of the chocolate man) and weaving an entire story around
his origin and his subsequent life which is no longer absurd.
In the third issue of DBC, he's managed to write a story that
combines a chocolate car, a talking dog from a parallel
dimension, time travel, and Ernest Hemingway - and it all makes a
twisted sort of sense. The second issue, The Metabolators, is a
story about the agents used by the feds to erase the evidence of
what happened in the chocolate man's hometown. A chilling,
mysterious tale - well told, and frightening. Like good X-Files
stories, Death By Chocolate takes one absurd notion and spins
out a plausible tale around the notion of "what if it were true"?
All art ©1998 by David Yurkovich
As with Threshold, David's art is thick and blocky. But where
he seems to be going intentionally quirky with Threshold, in
DBC he seems to go out of his way to seem more realistic. The
panel layouts and such are still repetitive, but the artwork is
always interesting, and solid by the third issue (produced more
than a year after the first issue). My only complaint is
that the "look" of the chocolate man is unimpressive, and doesn't
make him look particularly like chocolate. It must be a difficult
thing to attempt to render, but the result is difficult to discern.
Try Death By Chocolate out with readers of X-Files (and fans
of the show) who wouldn't mind a somewhat more unbelievable
story (more unbelievable than a guy who is a living cancer?), fans
of offbeat adventure (like David's own Threshold, or Doom
Patrol), and of course, fans of chocolate! DBC is an ideal
crossover book for the casual reader: its title catches the eye and grabs
their interest, yet its subject matter is just intriguing enough to get
them to come back for more. Be ready with all of the chapters
available for those repeat customers!
If you like Death By Chocolate, take a look at:
|Slave Labor Graphics
|Tim McCarney & Philip Amara
Kirk Madge, millionaire inventor, adventurer, and all-around
wise-guy, is enlisted by a mysterious fellow millionaire who is
searching for the "Suspense Jacket", a mystical garment which
enables its wearer to see the future... or the past. What makes
Madge interested in the mission, beyond his unquenchable desire
for adventure, is the fact that he's a giant talking ape - and he
can't remember his past.
As Kirk and his off-the-wall troupe of assistants begin the
search for the jacket, mysterious goings-on begin to mount.
Strange violin-headed men sneak into Madge's bedroom at night
and give him an unexpected haircut, while Kirk begins to have
flashbacks of a past as a professional baseball player. What do
time travel, baseball, and flapjacks have in common? They're all
intimately tied into the weird adventures of Sky Ape!
Bizarre, yet insanely logical plotlines and characters reminiscent
of Grant Morrison's glory days on Doom Patrol (and not unlike
Threshold, reviewed elsewhere in this issue), or Douglas Adams'
science fiction novels. In fact, given the overall style of the story
(millionaire playboy with live-in assistants goes off on bizarre
adventures), Sky Ape reads like Grant Morrison writing
Doc Savage on acid. Seemingly unrelated elements are thrown into a
tasty mulligan stew of a book which comes up with a surprisingly cohesive
whole. Vastly entertaining, Sky Ape is that wonderful rarity in
books: a story that goes in exciting and unpredictable directions
yet still seems strangely logical when viewed in retrospect.
All art ©1998 by Richard Jenkins
The art by Richard Jenkins suits the bizarre storyline
perfectly, chock full of odd angles, thick blacks, spiraling panels and
healthy variety. A sort of "Rob Walton and Scott McCloud ink
Winsor McCay" look lends a whimsical air to the generally dark
panels as dark events unfold. Overall, a good job that's as fun to
look at as to read.
Fans of Grant Morrison's early Doom Patrols will absolutely
adore Sky Ape, and readers who are following his current hit run
on JLA (or who liked his Animal Man) should also give Sky Ape
a go. Readers of Threshold and Art Adams' Monkeyman &
O'Brien should check it out, too - you'll be glad you did!
Try Sky Ape out with fans of Doc Savage who would enjoy
an affectionate pastiche, and of course with all fans of big talking
gorillas! (Monkeyman, Grodd, Congorilla, etc). Fans of Douglas
Adams' wacky novels and the TV shows "Eerie, Indiana",
"Legend", and "Brisco County" will also get a kick out of the Ape.
With only one issue to go on this miniseries, many folks will
enjoy a complete-in-4-issues funny, suspenseful tale.
If you like Sky Ape, take a look at:
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