Picks and Pans Review: Mantis

updated 01/24/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/24/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Fox (Mon., Jan. 24, 8 p.m. ET)

B+

These are parlous times in Ocean City. The metropolis is undergoing a wave of gang-related lawlessness. Fortunately there emerges a superhero, more precisely the bug-eyed bruiser of the title, who can temporarily paralyze any crook that he catches in the act. Soon, in precinct houses all over town, cops are using hand trucks to wheel immobile perps to their holding cells.

Mantis's alter ego is a paraplegic scientist (Carl Lumbly of Going to Extremes) who gets his mobility and powers from a specially designed costume.

This film's cartoon nature lends itself to action and colorful characters, but the dialogue and exposition teeter around on stilts. What makes this superhero saga refreshing is the ethnic twist of using a predominantly black cast as both heroes and villains. Steve James, Gina Torres and Bobby Hosea costar.

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