Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rayboy's Review: Don Bluth Presents Space Ace

Don Bluth was one of the chief animators at Walt Disney Studios, where he provided uncredited directing, animating or assistant-directing duties on Robin Hood, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Pete's Dragon, The Rescuers, 101 Dalmatians, The Fox and the Hound, Sleeping Beauty and The Sword in the Stone. Following his departure in 1979, Bluth formed his own animation studio where he created such classic films as The Secret of Nimh (1982), An American Tail (1986),The Land Before Time (1988), and All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989), as well as his involvement in the laser disc games Dragon's Lair & Space Ace.

Now Arcana Comics has released a new adaptation of Space Ace, written by the prolific Robert Kirkman (Invincible, The Walking Dead, Marvel Zombies, The Astounding Wolf-Man) and illustrated by Paulo Borges in a very clean animated-looking style that is highly reminiscent of Bluth's great film work.

Based on the classic 1980's video game, Space Ace #1 follows the adventures of musclebound hero Ace after his battle with the villainous Commander Borf, who had attacked Ace with his nefarious 'Infanto Ray' (a weapon that transformed Ace into an adolescent version of himself) and then Borf kidnapped his girlfriend Kimberly. Ace had rescued Kimberly and turned Borf's own weapon upon him, leaving the pair as caretakers of "baby Borf". Despite defeating the villain, Ace is relieved of duty back at headquarters, since he is randomly changing back and forth between younger & older versions of himself. The issue closes out with the arrival of Borf's evil brother, setting up the next issues action.

Space Ace starts out by filling readers in on events that probably occurred within the video game, so this could be somewhat off-putting to those of you who are unfamiliar with the character. This is muted slightly by the artwork, which looks exactly like an old-school animated film, and in these days of strictly computer-generated stuff, nostalgia alone may help smooth this over. Space Ace is a decent read and it is pretty to look at, but I am undecided if I will stick around for the rest of the mini-series after reading this issue.

I would love to have seen this printed on common news stock like that used on any Archie Comics or DC's Scooby-Doo or Looney Tunes. There are also five entire pages devoted to effects shots that are nothing but a waste of space. A single panel would have sufficed in each case and served the story better. Literally an entire page is devoted to a simple sound effect explosion and that's not fair to the buyer at $3.95 a pop, particularly when its done several other times in the same issue.

Give Space Ace a try, if flipping through it on the stands floats your boat, but renting any of Bluth's movies might ultimately make for better entertainment.

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