Stan “The Man” Lee Strikes Again with MOSAIC and Lightspeed!

Mosaic Box ArtStan "The Man" Lee has been writing comics since 1941 – and created, or co-created, many of the best-known and most enjoyed comics characters in history. Even though he's no longer the go-to guy for Marvel Comics, he's still bringing his unique sensibility to superheroes to us through his POW! Entertainment company. To day, two of his latest creations are being released on DVD: Stan Lee Presents: MOSAIC, and Stan Lee's Lightspeed

Mosaic Box Art

Stan Lee Presents MOSAIC

There are no new stories under the sun, but there are many ways to take elements that we've seen before and twist them into a fresh take. Stan Lee Presents: MOSAIC takes superpowers we've encountered before [strength, leaping ability, the ability to climb any surface, the chameleon-like ability to blend into one's background, and true invisibility] and mixed them together in a new way.

Maggie Nelson [voiced by Anna Paquin] is a seventeen-year old girl who is studying to become an actress. When her father, Nathan [Gary chalk], an Interpol agent who has been working on a series of museum robberies, is injured by Mannequin, one of a race known as Chameleals, Maggie is placed in danger. An object Nathan placed in his home safe is struck by lightning, and it gives her unusual abilities.

A Chameleal named Mosaic [Kirby Morrow] is also after Mannequin, to whom he has a unique connection – though their philosophies differ considerably. Because of Mannequin's need for the object in Nathan's safe, Maggie is drawn into a conflict that has been going on for centuries – and Mosaic may be her only ally.

Stan Lee Presents: MOSAIC is a typical Stan Lee effort – people who seem normal – even ordinary [despite, or maybe because of their dreams], are thrust into extraordinary situations. Plus, there are superpowers. Maggie is a high school girl, but one who has a dream that she is actually working towards. Nathan is a single parent who's letting Maggie pursue her dream, though he urges her to study something that will give her a "real job" in case her dreams don't work out.

Stephan [Cam Clarke] is a boy in Maggie's class, and her best friend – he's too shy to tell her that he's crazy about her [but he's there when she needs him, even in the strangest of circumstances]. Mannequin may be stealing mystical objects, and have designs on ruling the Chameleals, but his primary goal is to resurrect his dead wife.

Mosaic, the co-star of this movie, is a man who believes that Mannequin's goals put the whole world at risk – not just the hidden Chameleal society – but he has a more personal reason for wanting to take Mannequin down. It's a dynamic that relates back to Maggie and Nathan in an unusual way…

MOSAIC is a fast-paced superhero yarn that is more than serviceable. In the grand Lee tradition, the characters have problems that aren't easily resolved simply by beating the bad guys – and even the bad guys have some character trait that makes it easy to relate to them. The action is fast and furious, but there are several key character moments – even if they are developed and presented in a kind of comics shorthand that is easily recognized.

Scott Lobdell [who has won awards for writing various X-Men comics] does a nice job of translating Lee's story into a script that balances action and character well enough to draw us into the adventure. Roy Smith has done a solid job of translating Lobdell's script into animation. Stan Lee Present's MOSAIC isn't brilliant, but it is above average for this sort of thing – and it's more than enough fun to warrant further direct-to-DVD adventures.

Features include: Introduction by Stan Lee; Architecture Traits – Featurette Interview with Roy Smith; Chameleon Traits – Featurette Interview With Stan lee; MOSAIC-ku DVD-ROM Game; and a stills gallery. [Now here is where an audio commentary with Lee, Lobdell and smith would have been a terrific idea!] A s a special bonus, the DVD comes with a mini-comic featuring a new Lee creation, The Condor – a Latino superhero on a skateboard – and a truly unique adventure.

Stan Lee Presents MOSAIC – Grade: B

Features – B-

Final Grade: B

Stan Lee's Lightspeed Box Art

Stan Lee's Lightspeed

Every comics company has had a super-speedster character of some sort – some have had more than one. There's something about being "faster than a speeding bullet," I guess. Over his career at Marvel comics, Stan lee has played with most archetypes – including the speedster. Quicksilver began as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but eventually reformed to become one of the Avengers. Since leaving Marvel, Lee has played in the superhero a few times, perhaps making a misstep with Stripperella. Stan Lee's Lightspeed is not much more than a bit of B-movie fun, but it definitely works on that level.

Daniel Leight [Jason Connery] is a member of an elite, covert government "ghost squad" that deals with terrorism. When a terrorist called Python [Daniel Goddard] destroys the Hallibrown headquarters to cover his latest high-tech theft, Leight is badly injured. He is subjected to radiation treatments to facilitate healing, but Python sabotages them with unexpected results. Leight has become able to run at tremendous speeds!

Because he gets windburned after his first experimental sprint, Leight picks up a body suit of the sort worn by competitive skiers – a distinctive sunburst design on the chest inspires a witness to his first superheroic actions to call him "Lightspeed." It's all very comic book, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Before Python brought the office building down on Leight, he called him by name. This leads Leight to believe that the reptilian terrorist is actually an old friend whose research in artificial skin replacement [for burn victims – especially his wife] lost its government funding. The man's wife died shortly afterward, and he swore vengeance on everyone involved – and in his rising paranoia, he blamed Leight, personally.

Stan Lee's Lightspeed features solid performances from Lee Majors [as Leight's team's commander], Goddard, Connery and Nicole Eggert [Leight's fellow ghost squad member and fianc

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