The Immortal Iron Fist 20 (January 2009)

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Okay, Swierczynski is finally back on track. Forgetting the special, he’s now written more good issues of The Immortal Iron Fist than mediocre or bad.

This issue resolves—maybe a little too conveniently (it should have taken eight)—Danny’s possible death at thirty-three. It also gets the search for the Eighth City back underway and brings in the Immortal Weapons to a more central role.

Not sure how much of it is Swierczynski’s fault for not plotting the arc right or if Fraction just left him with too much to do.

Swierczynski puts a solid bow on the whole thing, but all the stuff with Misty seems like a misfire. Though Foreman’s hat for her for her big farewell scene with Danny is brilliant. Swierczynski just never establishes their relationship as anything significant. It doesn’t feel like their goodbye has any real weight.

Still, I’m enthusiastically reading once more.

CREDITS

The Mortal Iron Fist, Conclusion; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artists, Russ Heath and Travel Foreman; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 19 (December 2008)

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Oh, there are other Immortal Weapons? Wonder if their appearance has anything to do with the issue working.

Just as Swierczynski gets out of his writing rut—well, I’m not sure if that’s an accurate description—he returns to a decent approximation of Brubaker and Fraction’s run on the title, Foreman just plummets.

He goes through maybe four different styles here, but the unifying factor is his people look different from panel to panel. Not like he forgot a facial characteristic, more like in one panel he draws one as a toad and in the next as a butterfly. It’s awful looking.

While Swierczynski does underuse the other Immortal Weapons (just having them show up is nice), he does return some intelligence to Danny, some thoughtfulness. The opening scene works great, even with Foreman confounding the whole thing.

Not sure the series is back on track, but it’s much improved.

CREDITS

The Mortal Iron Fist, Chapter Three; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artists, Travel Foreman and Russ Heath; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Death Queen of California 1 (November 2008)

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So Swierczynski’s take on Orson Randall is basically to take a big steamy crap all over the work Brubaker and Fraction did on the character. Either Swierczynski didn’t read their comics or he just didn’t understand them. I’m sort of leaning toward the latter, just because it’s a meaner sentiment and this comic put me in a foul mood.

Swierczynski is a crime writer, so I guess the lame, anachronism-filled “hard boiled” narration of Orson in late twenties Los Angeles (in a James Ellroy thriller, actually) is intentional. Again, Swierczynski doesn’t get the character or how to narrate his adventures but maybe there’s decent art, right?

No, it’s Camuncoli. I thought Camuncoli was only at DC since it was Jim Lee who “discovered” him and decided to subject the world to his “skills.”

Death Queen isn’t a terrible idea, but it needed a good editor and a better artist.

CREDITS

Writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Giuseppe Camuncoli; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 18 (October 2008)

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Okay, either Swierczynski is covering for Foreman or Foreman is covering for Swierczynski here.

There simply is not enough story this issue. It’s not so much a pacing question, it’s just… almost no story. Luke, Colleen and Misty rescue Danny from the guy who’s out to get him (a demon, I think), Danny recuperates, cliffhanger at Danny’s kung fu school for kids. Some scenes in K’un-L’un, establishing everyone but Danny knows about the Iron Fist-killing demon. Oh, and that new hire at Rand, the one I said was a bad guy?

He’s a bad guy.

I’m not quite given up on Immortal Iron Fist, but Swierczynski is definitely showing some problems here. He just doesn’t have an approach to the series. He’s trying to continue the Brubaker and Fraction run, not bring anything new (having Danny be funny about dating Misty doesn’t count).

My optimism is falling fast.

CREDITS

The Mortal Iron Fist, Chapter Two; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artists, Travel Foreman and Russ Heath; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 17 (September 2008)

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Swierczynski’s approach to Iron Fist is to continue the Brubaker and Fraction format. We even get Heath doing the flashback art.

There’s one big difference. First is how Swierczynski structures the villain in the issue. He’s not mysterious. We get his story right away. And his motivation is pretty straightforward. He’s the guy who kills the Iron Fists at thirty-three–it’s kind of like Halloween: H20, but on a thirty-three year cycle.

Also strange is the way Swierczynski continues from the previous issue. He does a direct sequel (though a few pages are prologue to it). So the last issue has that amazing moment with Danny’s friends surprising him with a cake and this issue has it be a whole party.

I’m generally positive… except how Foreman keeps changing his style. Sometimes he’s finished, sometimes he’s rough. It’s too varied for a single issue.

Reading with guarded optimism….

CREDITS

The Mortal Iron Fist, Chapter One; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artists, Travel Foreman and Russ Heath; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 54 (September 1991)

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The big surprise this issue is Byrne’s Next Men. It’s actually pretty solid (though I think it features all four Byrne faces). The art’s great–nice flow of action–and the story’s intriguing. I think it’s the strongest narrative structure I’ve ever read from Byrne (though it might just be because it’s a prologue).

Geary’s got a few Transgression Hotline strips. They’re solid, amusing and unremarkable. Geary’s a professional though and they’re well-produced.

The Homicide closer from Morrow and Arcudi is fabulous. Morrow transforms the strip from Arcudi’s regular bore to something out of a film noir. During this installment, Arcudi even manages to insert something subtle, which I didn’t realize he was capable of doing.

Finally, Sin City. Miller uses almost this entire installment to promote violence, torture and cruelty. Wait, can you torture without cruelty? Anyway, he throws in some terrible dialogue and narration as a bonus.

CREDITS

Homicide, The Creep, Part Two; story by John Arcudi; art and lettering by Gray Morrow. The Next Men, Interlude; story, art and lettering by John Byrne. Transgression Hotline; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Sin City, Episode Five; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 53 (August 1991)

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It turns out all I need to like Homicide is a good artist. I think Arcudi fashioned the story to fit Morrow’s sensibilities, but it’s easily the best dialogue Arcudi’s written on the series. Morrow really shows how important an artist is in making a mediocre (at best) script work.

Geary’s got a single page again. It’s a little more profound than usual and not entirely successful.

Paley’s got a crazy cat strip and it’s simply lovely. She breaks the comic strips panels and lets loose this swash of ink. Even with Morrow in the issue, it’s the best art, just because she’s doing so much on each page. It’s a great comic.

Not great (or good) is the Biggers, Brooks and Johnson entry, Earth Boys. It’s two wasted pages.

As for Sin City? The only thing worse than a regular Sin City entry is one where Miller does filler.

CREDITS

Sin City, Episode Four; story and art by Frank Miller. Secret Places of My Shameful Past; story and art by Rick Geary. Kute Kitty Kartoon; story and art by Nina Paley. Earth Boys, Wheel to Power; story by Cliff Biggers, Brett Brooks and Dave Johnson; art by Johnson. Homicide, The Creep; story by John Arcudi; art and lettering by Gray Morrow. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 52 (July 1991)

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The Bacchus story is a really upsetting story of Simpson, Bacchus’s sidekick, and his journey through hell. I’m not up on my Dante, but it seems like it follows Inferno a little bit. It’s a good story, but it’s a real downer and very different from the other Bacchus entries so far.

The Heartbreakers story features some really dumb plot developments. But Bennett may have gotten the narrative to a good starting point. Finally.

Then there’s Sin City—two installments in and I’m really sick of it. Half the story looks like Miller’s drew Batman then replaced him with Marv (trench coat as cape) and the other half is filled with the crappy dialogue. Without Mickey Rourke saying it, it doesn’t work. It’s just too stupid. Rourke being able to sell this dialogue is the testament to his ability (though it’s over a dozen years before he would speak it).

CREDITS

Bacchus, Afterdeath; story and art by Eddie Campbell and Wes Kublick. Heartbreakers, That Uncertain Feeling; story by Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan; art by Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. Sin City, Episode Three; story and art by Frank Miller. Edited by Randy Stradley.

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