Swamp Thing 15 (March-April 1975)

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Oddly, as Michelinie moves away from the traditional Swamp Thing standards, such as Swamp Thing having a lot of thoughts, he does better. The issue isn’t exactly good, it’s just not as bad as the previous one. It’s bad, but it doesn’t fail at being a Len Wein Swamp Thing.

Michelinie has some really goofy stuff this issue—like Abby acting like she knew Alec Holland. There’s a big continuity snafu and one wonders if the editor was paying any attention when it came to inferred situations. Other goofiness has Abby being a mystic, Matt being able to sway a crazy man’s mind with his logic. The comic’s mildly atheistic (or strongly deist), which is pretty cool for a seventies book.

I think my favorite part might be when Michelinie needlessly refers to Bolt, who’s barely a character anymore, as a “black man” in narration. It’s an eye-roll moment.

CREDITS

The Soul-Spell of Father Bliss; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 14 (January-February 1975)

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And now Wein has left too, leaving David Michelinie to clean up the mess.

The mess in question is Wein’s swamp monsters. It turns out they aren’t because of Alec Holland’s serum, rather because of a strange batch of toxic waste dumped in the swamp, which somehow interacted with the Holland formula.

While Redondo’s art just keeps getter better, the writing takes a hit. Even when Wein was at his most talky, nothing compares to Michelinie’s endless narration. He also doesn’t bring much intelligence to Swamp Thing’s thoughts—he doesn’t seem like a brilliant scientist, more like an average joe. Though I guess it’s funny to see Swamp Thing kick somebody in a fight.

Because the story’s about the selfless sacrifice of maligned children, the issue turns out to be somewhat affecting. But Swampy doesn’t come off well. He comes off a little like a selfish jerk.

Still, nice art.

CREDITS

The Tomorrow Children; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 13 (November-December 1974)

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Even though the issue ends with a teaser of the next one, it reads a little like Wein was preparing for it to be Swamp Thing’s finale. Swamp Thing reveals his identity to Matt Cable and then, instead of setting off with Matt to adventure, heads back to the swamp. It takes Swamp Thing a night to walk from Washington D.C. to Louisiana. Wein’s not so great at geography apparently.

This issue features Redondo’s best work so far. Besides integrating horrific into his tragic renderings of Swamp Thing, he also gets to do a lot of regular action. Matt and Abby put on SHIELD uniforms to break Swamp Thing out, for example.

Wein starts off stronger than he finishes, opening with Swamp Thing discovering his serum, in the swamp water, has been mutating the wildlife. It’s interesting, but Wein moves on immediately.

It’s goofy and pointless, but never too bad.

CREDITS

The Leviathan Conspiracy; writer, Len Wein; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

The Unwritten 12 (June 2010)

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Reading the latest side-story issue of Unwritten, all I could think about was how Carey and Gross should never stop the series, they should also spin out some of these side-stories.

I guess they call these side-stories one-shots. Anyway. This one, “Willowbank Tales,” has more than enough promise to hold at least three issues.

It’s about a Wind in the Willows type place—albeit with less literary import—where some guy who wrong Wilson Taylor finds himself exiled. He’s the bunny rabbit and he’s got a foul mouth and plans for committing mass murder if need be to escape.

The issue manages to be funny and touching. Gross, with inker Kurt Higgins, create a precious cast of animals; it’s hard to dislike them, even if they are brainless.

It also gives Carey a chance to riff about the nature of children’s literature for a couple pages.

CREDITS

Eliza Mae Hertford’s Willowbank Tales; writer, Mike Carey; artists, Peter Gross and Kurt Higgins; colorist, Zelda Devon; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Planet of the Apes 1 (April 2011)

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Damn, Daryl Gregory kills John Huston.

Gregory’s got a rough task—the franchise has always had a confined setting, both in time and place (regardless of jumping around). He remedies it a little… oh, wait, it takes place before the first movie? They use the text paragraph on the indicia and title page for important facts. I never pay attention to those paragraphs.

Anyway, the apes and humans (friends after the last movie in the series—the original series) are undergoing an industrial revolution, which presumably is long gone when Charlton Heston shows up. It makes for a decent, Dickensian setup. Gregory juxtaposes stepsisters (one human, one ape) as the protagonists. Unfortunately, nothing visually differentiates their narration boxes.

I have trouble getting enthusiastic about a Planet of the Apes comic. How monumental can it be when we know Chuck Heston will eventually blow up the planet?

It’s harmless licensed stuff.

CREDITS

The Long War, Part One; writer, Daryl Gregory; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Juan Manuel Tumburus; letterer, Travis Lanham; editor, Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Unwritten 11 (May 2010)

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A small complaint. This issue features Tommy—sorry, Tom—having a big Jedi moment. Only no one thinks he’s a good enough Jedi to do it yet. But he can still do it… and Carey doesn’t even hint at why he can do it. It plays out fine because it’s a big set piece but it’s a narrative pothole. It suggests Tom’s “purpose” might be to quest about, correcting literary wrongs… to what end, though. Carey doesn’t touch on that bit either, or even recognize it in the story.

Otherwise, it’s a great issue.

Lizzie knocks Goebbels’s block off, which is fun to see in wish fulfillment, but also just to see her get a strong moment. She’s mysterious to the point she fades into the background occasionally.

Tom gets to show purpose and activeness. Savoy gets to do his sidekick thing.

Fabulous art from Gross—on the “monster” especially.

CREDITS

Jud Süss, Part Two: The Canker; writer, Mike Carey; penciller, Peter Gross; inkers, Gross and Jimmy Broxton; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

The Unwritten 10 (April 2010)

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It’s been too long since I’ve read Unwritten. I had to remember stuff—why no recap page, darn it—I’m still not sure it’s been confirmed, before this issue, Wilson is alive somewhere. Maybe it has been.

Anyway, Tommy and company end up in a sort of Nazi Germany where Tommy and the male sidekick—Savoy (Carey’s great at giving memorable names for characters without making them too outlandish)—run into Goebbels.

Lizzie gets pissed at Tommy before that meeting and abandons him, leaving him to his own devices. So, of course he screws up.

Coming back to Unwritten, besides just the quality of work from Carey and Gross, there’s also the draw of the Tommy character. He’s fallible beyond the point of all reason at times. One can sympathize, but also just stand slack-jawed.

Here, for instance, he thought he should trust Goebbels? How stupid do you get?

CREDITS

Jud Süss, Part One: The Liar; writer, Mike Carey; penciller, Peter Gross; inkers, Gross and Jimmy Broxton; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

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