The Maze Agency 6 (May 1989)


Joe Staton, wow. Odd body shapes, oddly shaped faces, visual oddities abound. About the only place Staton didn’t do something strange is on location. They aren’t the best street scenes, but they’re better than the rest.

Oh, and hands. The hand close-ups are fine. Most of the rest is painful.

It’s Gabe’s birthday–to get to the story–and Jennifer doesn’t know what to get him. The issue opens with a great scene of her shopping with two friends. They came in the city to hang out. It’s Barr’s best writing in the issue as it’s completely mundane and honest.

The mystery is a little less exciting. The occurrence is predictable, though the resolution is not. But Barr focuses the issue on Gabe and Jennifer’s romance, not the mystery. The balance is off.

The decidedly unsexy art from Staton hurts the romantic scenes, but it’s not all his fault.


Double Edge; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Joe Staton; inker, Rich Rankin; colorist, Julia Lacquement; letterer, Dan McKinnon; editor, Michael Eury; publisher, Comico.

Captain America and Black Widow 640 (February 2013)


It’s another all action issue–there’s some talking heads for the planning and the various plot twists, but it’s an action issue. A bunch of slightly different superheroes–the Black Knight has a magical chainsaw and Venom can pilot a spaceship and Ghost Rider’s techy–attack some slightly different other superheroes who are now bad. Human Torch is a burning skeleton, I think.

It’s all confusing but very nicely illustrated. Francavilla has a great time with the battle scenes.

Otherwise, Black Widow gets the most important scenes. Cap gets none. His promise to the lizard people gets a summarized follow up. The multiverse thing gets even sillier.

Bunn fails at the one duplicate of the bad lady he needs to get right. The other one he does in this issue, he does well. But not the important one.

It’s not a success, it’s mildly disappointing, but at least it’s competent.


Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 1 (September 2012)


I don’t know what’s more amusing in Len Wein’s wordy exposĂ© of Ozymandias–the idea of majoring in Alexander the Great in post-graduate work (seriously, did no editor explain to Wein how higher education functions) or Adrian being ashamed of his homosexual dalliances.

Wein has Adrian recording his memoirs during the final events of the original Watchmen and Adrian hides the gay adventure. Jae Lee’s art shows it while the text obscures it. If you’re going to be vaguely homophobic about it, why put it in? Unless it’s because Adrian’s just the bad guy.

Speaking of Lee’s art… It’s bad. Every page is meticulously designed like a cover–even the part where Adrian hallucinates on hash (the world clearly operates differently in the Watchmen universe)–but boring. And Lee’s incapable of drawing Adrian’s eyes. It’s a funny looking comic.

The pirate backup may actually be better than the feature.


I Met a Traveler…!; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jae Lee; colorist, June Chung; letterer, John Workman. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Devil in the Deep, Part Five; writer, Len Wein; artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 107 (May 1991)


Didn’t Wheeler just do an issue where Alec’s in trouble in one place and Abby and TefĂ© are in trouble in another? It’s apparently just how he structures Swamp Thing.

This issue Abby and the baby are stuck at the Parliament, where she may or may not have unintentionally fallen into the Grey’s clutches. Meanwhile, Alec’s in some underwater prison with hundreds of other plant elementals. Wheeler’s “war” has them as soldiers, which makes one wonder how long a plant elemental is a plant elemental. There are only twenty-five or so at the Parliament, at least readily visible ones… are we talking decades here or just years?

Wheeler also rips the magic out of the plant elementals. He has the characters all explain it with pseudo-science. He’s being far too literal.

Still, it’s not as bad as it could be, just frequently predictable.

Hoffman’s trippy art’s okay too.


Stabs of Life Echoing in a Void, The Quest for the Elementals, Part Four; writer, Doug Wheeler; artist, Mike Hoffman; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

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