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by Bruce Serafin

COMIC BOOKS are on the move! From Art Speigelman`s Maus at the more literary level to Frank Miller`s The Dark Knight Returns at the level of commercial books, some truly absorbing work is being done these days. I don`t know if it`s entirely fair to call Lin Chong is Revenge (Water Margin Press, 63 pages, unpriced), with text by Frank Chin and illustrations by Gao Shi, a comic book, since it forgoes dialogue balloons and in fact is graphically more like an illustrated children`s book. It`s the second volume in a serial edition of the old Chinese storycollection Tales from the Water Margin. This aggregate of tales tells of a Robin-Hood-style band of outlaws, and it`s full of adventure, cruelty, heroism, and cunning -- all the usual great stuff. Frank Chin`s text is fresh and supple in its use of modern American ("`Whaddaya say? Whaddaya know?` the storyteller chants. `Kingdoms rise and fall! Nations come and go!"`), and I got a mild pleasure out of the book. But in comparison to Miller`s Dark Knight, for instance, it is rather flat and old-fashioned. I have a suspicion that this whole series of books is aimed more at the collectors` market than it is at the real lover of comics -- which of course is no reason not to track the book down and check it out. While you are at it, though, look at Miller`s work, leaf through Maus and The Watchmen -- you may be surprised at what you see.

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