Current Reviews


Comic Effect #34

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2003
By: Craig Lemon

Writers: Various
Publisher: Paloma St. Publications

First off, you're not going to find this in your local comic shop. Check out the website above for ordering information and, handily, an archive of the covers and contents for the first 34 issues - I'm hoping a sample article from each issue will also be uploaded to give a feel for the content.

Comic Effect is Jim Kingman's baby - a fast-and-loose six-times-a-year schedule, a nice concise format, 52 pages for $3.50, and more than just reviews. The tagline is "emphasizing the fun in reading comics" and the remit of the book appears to be to allow its contributors enthusiasm to shine through...there's little in the way of critical analysis, is the downside, more an overriding love for comics.

For example, the kickoff article by Mike Hall is "Atlas Flopped", a detailed look at Stan Lee's brother's failed range of comics from 1975. It actually reads as a comedy of errors, more of an April's Fool joke than a serious business's an interesting read but Hall doesn't delve into his subject deep enough - Atlas had a phenomenal range of talents, why did they not succeed? Where are the interviews with the talents? Where are the links for further reading and reference material? The article feels half-done, unfortunately, presumably due to space reasons.

Kingman brings up 1975 in the next article, a personal voyage of comics and music from that year - the real problem with this article is if you're not familiar with the books from that era, it's pretty much meaningless.

After these two articles come the reviews proper, interspersed with retellings of old comic stories. In this latter category you get Batman #139, Jimmy Olsen #122, Flash Gordon and Star Trek #58 (Gold Key) - there's little in the way of analysis or review of these books, mostly just a retelling of the plot in some detail; although Robert Andres' look at Star Trek #58 goes a little deeper than most. These seem mostly intended for those who remember the books, and look back on them with rose-tinted glasses.

As for the reviews, well, these for me are the highlight of the issue. A great range of titles covered - Zatanna: Everyday Magic; War Story: Condors; Lucifer #36; The Ultimates Volume One; The Essential Thor Volume One; Orbiter HC. I couldn't find anything to argue about with any of these reviews: good length, good detail, nice analysis typify all the reviews fact, one of these intrigued me so much (old hack that I am), that I've resolved to buy the comic concerned next time I'm in the LCS. What more can you ask of a review than that?

In conclusion, the book is a mixture of Silver Age nostalgia and modern reviews; this dichotomy is uneasy at the best of times, it feels that someone who'd enjoy one segment might not get as much out of the other...surely there's a place for two magazines, one covering each topic in greater detail? Having said that, if you're a Silver Age buff, consider this a book and an essential purchase - if you're more of a modernist like myself, consider this carefully - $3.50 is not a huge price to pay for some decent articles, and you might just get a kick out of the Atlas debacle too.

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