Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CASPER & THE SPECTRALS Reviewed

Entertainment
Latest review at Aintitcool.

CASPER & THE SPECTRALS #3

Writer: Todd Dezago
Artist: Leanne Hannah
Publisher: Ardden Entertainment

"A-HA HA HA HA HA!! Friends?!? FRIENDS?!?! You are either a very foolish or a very brave little ghost -- but you amuse me so I'll let you speak and save the destroying you instantly for later!!"
-- Volbragg

I've thrown positive reviews CASPER'S way for the first 2 parts of this 3-part series, so I feel a sense of duty here to tackle the conclusion. For all the complaints over the years about the lack of substantive comic books out there geared for the younger reader, it really is not the case anymore. There are excellent comics being published every week that are not only appropriate for kids, they are actually good and can be enjoyed by adults as well...if they can check their cynicism and sarcasm at the door.

Ardden's CASPER & THE SPECTRALS has consistently been one comic I have faithfully promoted ever since I picked up the first issue just on a lark. I occasionally just grab a comic off the stands that I didn't know existed and give it a go. Usually, the result is disappointing and I never think about it again. Occasionally I get a pleasant surprise and CASPER was one like that -- a very pleasant surprise. The characters of Casper, Wendy, and Hot Stuff (along with their supporting casts) are updated for the modern era but faithfully retain their personalities and their childlike nice-ness and naivete. The beautiful character designs by Pedro Delgado are also faithful to the original Harvey Comics but with a more modern and angular animation-style design.

The "Spectrals" are the three major races of supernatural beings (Ghosts, Witches, and Devils) who live in segregated dimensions. Casper, Wendy, and Hot Stuff are all lonely among their own kind and find themselves drawn together despite their differences. Just as their friendship is growing, circumstances unfold that unleash a horrible monster called Volbragg who threatens to destroy their worlds and the world of the humans. In this final chapter, we see a bit of political conflict between Casper, Wendy, and Hot Stuff on how to tackle the menace. Casper wants to try and make friends withe Volbragg and Wendy just wants to take him down. Hot Stuff ultimately decides to be Casper's backup and inadvertently learns some key information that helps.

What we have here is another good comic book with a fine conclusion that demonstrates that even people with different ideologies and opinions can find ways to work together to confront common threats. In the end, it is the similarities and not the differences that draw us together. But the differences are what give life that spark of excitement and unpredictability.

I like the fact that the universally positive messages in this comic book come through the story and the characters and not page after page of preachy word balloons. The art in this issue is handled not by Pedro Delgado, who drew the first 2 issues, but someone new to my radar named Leanne Hannah. Her style is very similar to Delgado already, so she is able to pick up where he left off without a jarring shift in tone to the art. Her art has a charm all its own though, and I would like to see more of her work.

Hats off to Ardden for this series, and I look forward to more with these characters. I'm still waiting for that STUMBO THE GIANT comic though....

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