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Fanboy of Fear Mike Oliveri Review by
Mike Oliveri
Area 52
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AREA 52 - 2001
#1-4
Writer: Brian Haberlin
Artist: Clayton Henry
Publisher: Image

I'm sure most (if not all - this IS a horror site, after all) of you are familiar with Area 51, the fabled hangar where the alien aircraft crashed/are stored/are experimented on/are reverse-engineered? Well, AREA 52 is the storage facility for everything else once Area 51 is done with it. As the creators describe it, it's basically the giant warehouse at the end of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, where the army grunt is seen pushing the crated-up Lost Ark of the Covenant through stacks and stacks of crates.

Located in Antarctica, the place is buried under the ice, well away from prying eyes and far enough from the mainland that the danger would be minimal if something were to go wrong.

And of course, something does go wrong.

AREA 52 is a fun romp, a cross between humor, horror, and science fiction. Writer Brian Haberlin (ARIA, STONE) gives us a new picture of what happened during the Roswell crash in flashback, while our heroine, Lieutenant Lane, finds herself assigned to the crap duty of guarding this cold warehouse.

Rather than succumbing to boredom as the others lead her to expect, she soon finds herself at the forefront of the action as a nasty alien awakes from within one of the storage crates and starts making a meal of the team. During the beginning of our story, we meet the quirky characters while the creature starts to pick them off one by one a la the first ALIEN flick.

The characters soon realize they're sitting on a wealth of tools and weaponry to fight this sucker. Lane whips out her PDA loaded with the warehouse inventory database (cheesy, yep, but it works in the context of the story) and they load up on all manner of items, many of which are a nod to other comics, movies, and good old Dungeons & Dragons manuals and modules.

You can't much go wrong with wit, creativity, action, and gore, and that about sums up as much of the storyline as I can tell you. The plot is a bit up and down rather than linear, kind of like if you took an up-and-down suspense flick like THE MUMMY RETURNS and translated it to paper and ink, and the ending isn't entirely original (in fact bordering on cliche), but while I was iffy on the series after the first issue I'm glad I stuck it all the way through.

Clayton Henry's (NINE RINGS OF WU-TANG) art is very much of the slick, cartoony style, and you can tell he loves drawing muscular characters (though without the excessive ripples) and big, flashy weapons. The blood is there but the gore is toned down, giving the reader a sense of danger despite the more comedic subject matter and without the excessive, in-your-face exploding guts. In short, it's almost perfect for this comic.

I give AREA 52 3 rabid fanboys for simple escapism and a lighthearted change from a lot of the comics coming out these days.

FanboyFanboyFanboyFanboy
This review copyright 2001 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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