A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. Jules Verne. Classics Illustrated No. 138. 1957, Reissued in 1968. The cover painting alone is worth the cover price and more in this excellent and pretty faithful adaptation of Verne's classic adventure story, making it one of the very best of the Classics Illustrated series. While some of the compositions could have been more striking at times, the inside art is generally good and often excellent, bringing vividly to life many of the novel's most exciting sequences. The scene with the raft of our heroes nearly being swamped at sea after encountering a fireball is particularly well executed., as is the battle of saurians as depicted on the cover. Verne's story, no matter how fantastic, retains its fascination for each generation. This adaptation, too, is really a classic.
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.: The Birds of Prey Affair # 1 - 2. 1993. Millennium. This excellent UNCLE adventure takes place several years after the end of the TV series, and Waverly, Solo, and Ilya all believe that the threat of THRUSH has been completed eliminated. Well, not quite. Dr. Dabree [played by Elsa Lanchester in the "Brian Killer Affair" episode] and the mysterious Dr. Egret [played by two different actors on as many episodes] have other ideas. At the climax of issue # 1, Ilya and Napoleon are trapped by Dabree in a chamber into which she pours a flood of radioactive waste materials. Dr. Egret has transferred her "memory engrams" into the final version of THRUSH's ultimate computer and has developed a computer virus through which she intends for THRUSH to take over the world from the inside. While part two doesn't quite meet up to the promise of part one, this is probably the best UNCLE comic book, with an excellent story by Terry Collins and Mark Ellis, and quite attractive artwork by penciller Nick Choles and inker Don Hillsman [nice colors by Marcus Rollie, too]. This is a notable collectible for all fans of the series. NOTE: If you're a Man from UNCLE fan check out the Man from UNCLE page at Quirk's Reviews Online: . This page has reviews of individual episodes, paperback books, and - yes - a few UNCLE comics as well.
GRIP: The Strange World of Men (Vertigo/DC 2002). Written and drawn by Gilbert Hernandez. A handsome Asian-American man [Mike Chang] wakes up in the middle of a big city and has no idea who he is. He's wearing a black suit and red tie and has a perfect bright-red lipstick kiss on his cheek. Trying to find out who he is, he leaves the kiss mark on his face as "a link to the recent past." As a friend of his puts it, the lipstick "is a nice touch. Adds mystery and even a little romance to the proceedings." If only... We never do learn for sure who planted the kiss on Mike's cheek, but Hernandez is more interested in telling a loopy, self-indulgent story that is at times amusing but is mostly borderline incoherent. At the end of the first issue [out of five] Chang sheds his skin like a snake and both the skinless Mike and his shed skin set off on adventures. It all has to do with a strange little girl with weird powers, and there are also some gangsters called the Overboys and a bunch of Mystery Women. Amid this mess of a story there are some decidedly imaginative moments, such as when a another man sheds his skin and puts on the skin of his wife, masquerading as her for the rest of his days. Hernandez' art is pleasant and clean-looking, but the compositions are mediocre and the overall effect is cartoonish. The story has many interesting elements but Hernandez isn't a strong enough writer to bring it all together. Still, if you're in the mood for something different (to say the least) you may find Grip gripping.