The Maze Agency 4 (March 1989)

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One of the most impressive things about The Maze Agency is how Barr manages such a large cast. He has two leads, one or two regular supporting players and then all the murder suspects. In this issue, concerning a Jack the Ripper copycat, he has something like eight suspects.

Obviously, the art plays a real factor. Hughes has to make each of the suspects distinct but believable. There’s one page identifying all the eventual suspects–every person gets a little description–and it all matches up beautifully. The reader can infer based on profession and appearance (and name, if one’s really playing attention). Maze is a rather well-produced comic book, it couldn’t work otherwise.

The mystery itself is solid; lots of unexpected turns, lots of creative page composition to maximize the space. The flirtation between the leads, however, is still stalled. Barr is starting to strain credulity with it.

CREDITS

The Return of Jack the Ripper?; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Adam Hughes; inker, Rick Magyar; colorist, Julia Lacquement; letterer, Deborah Marks; editor, Michael Eury; publisher, Comico.

The Dark Knight Returns – A Podcast Special

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To “celebrate” the conclusion of Warner Premiere’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns adaptation, Matt (of Cinemachine and my co-host at An Alan Smithee Podcast) and I thought it’d appropriate to do a special podcast talking about the original comic and the animated adaptation.

We say a number of nice things about the comic book (most of it, anyway) and a few nice things about the animated adaptation. Ten years ago, I doubt anyone would have imagined a Dark Knight adaptation, something we talk about a little during the podcast.

You can download the episode directly–or just subscribe to “An Alan Smithee Podcast” in iTunes (where the episode will be available as a special).

MP3 DOWNLOAD

iTUNES LINK

Snarked 5 (February 2012)

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Langridge sets this entire issue–with the exception of the prologue featuring the villains–aboard ship. The heroes have set sail for dreaded Snark Island, but they haven’t told the crew where they’re going yet….

There’s also the matter of sea sickness, the Cheshire Cat popping in, an angry crocodile who follows the ship and then the crew themselves. Oh, and the little prince getting eaten by said crocodile.

So, while the entire issue takes place in a day and most of it in a morning, Langridge manages to keep it quite full. He also gets in some excellent character work, particularly on the Walrus. The Walrus and Queen Scarlett–this issue doesn’t focus on her as much, rather the situation–are easily Snarked’s best characters, but for completely different reasons. Scarlett is just a fun, strong character. The Walrus is on an unknowingly redemption trip.

It’s an excellent issue.

CREDITS

Fit the Fifth: How Doth the Little Crocodile…?; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Rachelle Rosenberg; editors, Bryce Carlson and Eric Harburn; publisher, kaboom! Studios.

Swamp Thing 90 (December 1989)

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Alcala’s not the best inker for Pat Broderick. Broderick takes over pencils this issue. Swamp Thing looks fine, so do the plants, but the people look wrong, like there’s not enough detail to them.

Wheeler tries to put Alec on a psychedelic recap of his time travel adventures but it doesn’t work. The one panel callbacks to recent issues can’t compare to Arcane trying to escape Hell. The other modern day stuff–Constantine’s quest and Abby’s labor–overshadow Alec’s trip too.

It’s a simple problem–Wheeler couldn’t do a stream of consciousness piece for Swamp Thing. Either he doesn’t have the character down or it just doesn’t work here, since it’s a forced decision. Alec getting back to the present just takes Constantine and a tuning fork. The rest is indigestible gravy.

Besides the art and the trip, the issue’s pretty good. Hopefully Wheeler will get better at writing Abby.

CREDITS

Journeys; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

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