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Fanboy of Fear Chris Gage Review by
Chris Gage
LEAVE IT TO CHANCE Free Comic Book Day Edition
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Paul Smith
Image Comics

So here's your problem: you're a horror fanatic, and you have a young daughter with whom you'd like to share your obsession. But you don't think she's quite ready for the gore and depravity of THE EVIL DEAD (and you don't really want Social Services to come and take her away). So what can you give her to read without turning her into one of the Future Serial Killers Of America? Look no further than LEAVE IT TO CHANCE.

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE is a delightful comic book series written by James Robinson (DC's STARMAN, the FREDDY VS. JASON screenplay) and drawn by Paul Smith (X-MEN). The ad copy describes it as Harry Potter meets Nancy Drew, and that's a great way to put it.

The book's star, Chance Falconer, is a young girl whose father, Lucas, is the most powerful sorcerer in the town of Devil's Echo. For centuries, a Falconer has protected the populace from any and all supernatural threats: but the catch is, that Falconer has always been male. Since Chance's mother has died, Lucas has no male heirs coming any time soon: but he's unwilling to break tradition by ever letting Chance take his job; he'd rather wait until she grows up and has a son he can pass the mantle on to. Chance, however, has no intention of waiting. With the help of her pet miniature dragon, St. George, she gets into one mystical adventure after another, despite the best efforts of her Dad and officer Margo Vela of the Arcane Crimes Unit to keep her involved in pursuits more befitting a girl who should be home watching Lizzie McGuire.

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE is a great comic for kids (of either sex, although as a boy I would have been embarrassed to read a "girl's book"; but would have done so on the sly, because it's just that cool). It's also a hell of a lot of fun for adults. It may not boast the level of sophistication of Robinson's excellent STARMAN, but he's not "writing down" either; the stories are entertaining, the characters likeable and relatable - even crusty old Lucas, who one suspects of being not so much a sexist as a Dad who doesn't want to put his little girl in danger - and the plots are full of magic, monsters, and Lovecraftian elder gods, not to mention real-world family conflict between a parent and a kid who's growing up faster than Dad would like.

The art, by Paul Smith, is really quite beautiful. Smith had a memorable run on X-MEN back in the '80's; his work here has the same delicate yet economical linework, but is just a hair more cartoony, as befits the lighter-hearted tone of the book. But don't confuse cartooniness with two-dimensionality; even with slightly exaggerated facial or physical features - and in some cases, because of them - the characters live and breathe (one of my favorites being a murdered hockey player who returns from the grave as a zombie to lead his team to the playoffs in issue #12).

Unfortunately, LEAVE IT TO CHANCE is no longer regularly published - although Robinson and Smith did release a one-shot not long ago, and one hopes there will be more. But Image saw fit to reprint an issue as part of its Free Comic Book Day promotion (you might still be able to find it if you're lucky), to advertise the fact that the entire initial twelve-issue run of LOTC is available in handsome, oversized hardcover editions, each collecting four issues of the series and sporting a more than reasonable cover price of $14.95. I've seen these, and they're great: reminiscent of the TINTIN hardcovers I read as a kid. If there's a younger reader in your family, you could do them a big favor by picking one or more of these up: and you might want to grab an extra for yourself, because they're one hell of a lot of fun.

As an overall series, LEAVE IT TO CHANCE gets Four Rabid Fanboys.

Review copyright 2003 by E.C.McMullen Jr.

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