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J. Gray of Mysteries of the Arcana Reviews Johnny Saturn

Hi, Folks:

This review can be found on J.’s blog over at Mysteries of the Arcana, a supernatural dimension hopping tale that has quickly become one of my favorite comics.  I love this type of story, so I endorse it wholeheartedly.

Johnny Saturn By JGray

My love for superhero comics goes backa ways. In fact, “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, the twelve partmasterpiece by Marv Wolfman and George Perez was my introduction tothe concept of multiple universes; something heavily explored here onMysteries of the Arcana.

In the last several years, though, thebig publishers have done a lot to tick me off. I won’t go into mylaundry list because I could rant for hours. Instead, I’m just goingto be thankful that Scott and Benita Story came along and took up thechallenge of creating new heroes as the centerpiece of theirwebcomic, Johnny Saturn.

The series starts off with the death ofthe title character. Johnny Saturn has been fighting the good fightfor over a decade, using only his fists, his wits, and the sort ofbody armor you can order from the back of Soldier of Fortune. Fromthere, things get really exciting. The archive is worth spending timewith. Better yet, order the print version so you can lovingly thumbthrough it.

I won’t give away the plot. Instead,I’ll explain some of the things I love about Johnny Saturn.

Thing #1

My favorite scene involves JohnnySaturn battling a group of powered villains. We get to see what he’sthinking as he fights. The mental narration is terse, almost like achecklist. Speedster? Telegraph your moves so you know where they’llhit, then hit them. Problem neutralized. I love it, because in myopinion characters like Johnny Saturn (and Batman and other mysterymen) aren’t amazing because of their fighting skills or detectiveabilities but because of their sheer tactical genius.

Thing #2

There’s a phenomenon in comics known as“Women in Refridgerators”. Female characters are often raped,beaten, murdered, depowered, and stereotyped as bitches or sluts. Insome cases it seems like the writer has some sort of axe to grindwith women, in others ancillary female characters are used as plotdevices to promote the “growth” of male characters. Thephenomenon was named after a heroes girlfriend was murdered andstuffed in his fridge. The hero then tracked down her killer and, atthe last minute, decided to deliver the villain to justice ratherthan go the old eye for an eye route. Thus, the hero grew, proving hewas just and noble and all it took was the brutal murder of a woman.

Johnny Saturn isn’t like that. Thefemale characters are interesting. The costumes can be a bitrevealing, yes, but the women have character. They aren’t twodimensional. They aren’t there to make the men look good, and theyaren’t there to satisfy the writer’s craving for revenge on all thegirls who rejected him in high school. In fact, the most powerful and(in my opinion) most intelligent superhero in the Johnny Saturnuniverse is a woman named Staff of Life. I can’t wait to see more ofher in action.

Thing #3

There’s a whole lot to explore. Thecomic’s well written and focuses primarily on Johnny Saturn but theother heroes are just as interesting. The world, too, holds a lot ofpromise and begs to be explored. Truth be told, the setting deservesmore than just one comic. If I could get an artist and permissionfrom Scott and Benita I think I’d jump at a chance to crack open asecondary story there.

Let me be clear. This isn’t a goldenage or silver age comic. There’s plenty of blood and violence andJohnny Saturn’s body bears the realistic consequences of a decade offighting crime. However, it also isn’t a Frank Miller-esque, over thetop splattercomic either. Instead, Scott and Benita have found a wayto balance the need for realism that marked comics in the 80s/90s andcombined it with the need for escapism that marked comics in the50s/60s.

Go read Johnny Saturn. You won’t besorry.

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