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Negative Burn: Summer 2005

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
A few months late in arriving is the Negative Burn Summer Special. Under a wonderful cover by Brian Stelfreeze lurk a dozen short pieces among 96 pages. Yeah, it's an anthology, but Negative Burn is one of comics' most interesting and most venerable anthologies, and can always be counted upon for more hits than misses each time it comes out.

Phil Hester and John McCrea's "Life on Pluto" begins the book with a winner. Their story is a wonderfully moving piece about a boy's active fantasy life. Brian Bolland's one-page "Enjoying the Moment" comes next, a quick silly philosophical piece. It's great to see Bolland do more than a cover, and this is an interestingly offbeat piece of work from him.

"A Monster's Tale" by Gary Reed and Daibor Tajalic is a retelling of the Frankenstein legend that left me a little cold. I don't know if it's because I still have Grant Morrison's amazing Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein comic in mind, or if I'm a bit bored of the Frankenstein legend, but this tale just didn't grab me.

But Richard Case's "Lorlei's Library of Curiosities", about a most unusual library, was absolutely charming, with some wonderfully subtle art by Case. Case was always a controversial artist when he worked on Vertigo's Books of Magic series, and here readers can see how he got the job. Case is great at doing magic. I just love the way his dragon looks in this story.

The rest of the comic is very mixed but seemed overall rather average to me. Darko Macan and Anthony Hightower's "Years" is a bit convoluted, while Ron Chan's "Pangu" with its fortune cookie captions, was just annoying. "Fat Rocker" by Danjiel Zezelj was unintelligible to me, while James Peaty and James Fletcher's "The Missing Piece" felt like a twist ending story with the wrong twist applied - instead of subverting the cliche, as I was hoping, the story embraced the cliche.

Overall, though, this book is reasonably priced at $9.99 for what you get, and there is a lot of pleasure to be gotten from these dozen stories.

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