Beek's Books - an ongoing collection of comic book reviews
  Another Day (Raised Brow)
by Mario E. Miranda
issues #1,2
Rating: good, Content: [beyond genre] [super]

 For some people it's Miracleman #25, for others it's THB #6, Hepcats #13, or the 1963 annual. I'm talking about issues that people look forward to, but figure will never materialise. My own personal example of this was Another Day #2. The first issue came out in Fall 1995, but after a couple of un-met solicitations for the second issue, I gave up on actually seeing it. So I was pleasantly surprised to see it show up at my local retailer. And even though I don't like to review unfinished stories, I figure it's been long enough since this one started to take a look at just #1 and #2. {wry grin}

  Another Day is the story of Paul Ramirez, and ordinary guy who discovers that he can do some extra-ordinary things. I've always been a sucker for this kind of story, for the obvious reason that it would be so cool to have this happen to me. I think the concept is loaded with storytelling possibilities, beyond just having the character put on a costume and fight crime under a code name. And Mario Miranda seems to have a similar idea.

 One thing I like about this story is the supporting cast. Miranda has provided Paul with an assortment of friends, co-workers, family, and girlfriend. There's a bit of caricature in some of them (particularly Paul's "best friend" Stan, who's too incredibly shallow and inconsiderate to really take seriously), but most of them behave like real people with real personalities, at turns serious, joking, etc. Paul's girlfriend Jill manages to stand up to him and chastise him without coming across as a screaming harpy, for example. Of course the central character of Paul is fairly well developed, through how he faces: the realisation that he can do the impossible, the frustration of his girlfriend over his boneheaded moves, the antics an unredeemable lout like Stan, the memories of his deceased father, a steady job he hates with people he doesn't. Even the (non) decor of his apartment tells us a great deal about him.

  One thing that surprised me a bit - and I'm not sure how much of a theme it's going to be in this series - is the question of religious faith. Most writers steer clear of this topic like a giant sinkhole, so I give credit to Miranda for even daring to bring it up. It didn't really show up in the first issue, but in the second (which starts a storyline called "A Matter of Faith"), it comes to the fore in places. I think it'll be interesting to see where Miranda goes with this... attributing Paul's new powers to the realm of the miraculous, establishing that he cannot perform miracles, or what.

 I'm fairly comfortable that this isn't going to be religious lecturing or propaganda, however, because Miranda doesn't seem shy about including some partial nudity and sexual situations, which are played at least in part for laughs. Most earnest evangelicals don't find such things amusing. I'm not sure that the mix of humour and seriousness is quite as well balanced and meshed as it could be (it's not always obvious what Miranda expects us to take seriously, and what to laugh at), but it's worth noting that there are some fun parts to this low-key melodrama. The man nearly choking to death in the background of the resturant as Paul, Jill, Stan, and Kate oblivious eat dinner gave me a chuckle, as did the mysterious Shoe Thieves mentioned in the news report on Paul's clock radio. And Stan almost has to be looked at as a joke.

  Miranda's art is very well done (and evidently the amount of work he puts into it is part of the reason for the delay). The scenes have plenty of detail including the backgrounds, the characters are well-rendered, and there's enough diversity in the panels, angles, and perspectives to keep this relatively low-action story interesting. He could still use a little work on distinguishing people from each other (especially the women), and keeping characters' features consistent (which would help the former problem), but this isn't a serious problem. He puts a lot on each page (usually three to four rows of panels), including a good share of dialogue, without it seeming too cluttered. (Better balloon pointers, to more easily identify who said what, would help, however.)

 Another Day may not be a magnum opus on par with Miracleman or Hepcats to warrant breathless anticipation, but it is a well-crafted and intriguing story. I just hope that Miranda can get his timeliness problems behind him. If so, I think it could turn out to be quite interesting.

If you can't get your retailer to get copies of Another Day, they are available for $2.75 each plus $1 postage from: Raised Brow Publications, P.O.Box 1081 Cooper Station, New York NY 10276-1081. (Only the 2nd printing of Another Day #1 is available.)
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