The Maze Agency 10 (March 1990)


Robb Phipps takes over as penciller this issue (Magyar stays on inking thank goodness). He’s not good, not bad. His scale is off, with people, settings, especially hands, but he’s competent. Maze feels professional, in terms of the art, just not special.

The story, however, is quite good. Now, with Gabe and Jennifer dating–this issue is more of him in her world–Barr focuses on the non-mystery aspects. Jennifer’s back story is far more interesting than the rather tame mystery. Barr uses Gabe as the vehicle for these discoveries (the reader the passenger) and there’s never any boring exposition.

There are some fantastic moments in the dialogue. Barr sets up difficult situations and writes great lines to move them along. Phipps is good at the visual pacing of these scenes, probably more so than the actual investigation ones.

It’s solid, the writing overcoming the somewhat trivial art problems.


Deadly Anniversary; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Robb Phipps; inker, Rick Magyar; colorist, Susan Glod; letterer, Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

Lord of the Jungle 4 (May 2012)


Nelson introduces D’Arnot this issue, brings in the hollow Earth ape men, turns Clayton into a bad guy and has a lame interlude with Tarzan and Jane.

The interlude’s lame because Nelson hasn’t done the groundwork for Jane to immediately fall for Tarzan. He could have–Tarzan bringing her gifts, saving her multiple times–but he didn’t and it’s actually excusable. If one can believe Tarzan taught himself to write–that accomplishment is straight from Burroughs–Jane immediately going gushy for him is passable too.

Most of the issue is action. The fight with the man apes is lengthy and good. Castro has some problems this issue (D’Arnot is a basically redheaded Clayton) and the faces are occasionally weak, but he sells the action. The battle is so fierce, one assumes tepid little Professor Porter must die (he doesn’t).

Jungle’s problematic, sure, but it’s still a decent Tarzan comic.


The Village of Torture; writer, Arvid Nelson; artist, Roberto Castro; colorist, Alex Guimaraes; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 5 (March 2013)


A few issues ago, Wein did a bunch of foreshadowing of the eventual reveal in Watchmen–Adrian’s master plan. This issue he has Adrian trying to figure out that master plan, which means all the obvious details from before were just for the reader’s benefit.

Wein never can figure out how or when to make Adrian the smartest man in the world.

This issue covers the police riots, sadly not doing much more with them than the original series does, only with Lee’s too design-oriented view of New York. He sucks the personality out of it, though Adrian’s tropical island works out.

There’s also a lot of terrible dialogue from Adrian’s assistant. Wein writes these characters’ conversations like it’s a back and forth from Clerks. Surely he doesn’t think that film’s characters are examples of geniuses.

Who knows… It’s so close over so I find it hard to care.


These Lifeless Things…!; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jae Lee; colorist, June Chung; letterer, John Workman; editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 110 (August 1991)


Three big things I noticed. Abby’s still from Eastern Europe, everything uses the word “elemental” a lot and Collins is definitely presenting a more disinterested Alec. I’m not sure why I expect him to intercede and save the bad guys, but the way he stands back… it’s sort of disturbing.

There’s also a lot of implications of how TefĂ©’s powers are playing out.

It’s a decent issue; Collins again goes for the horror angle, with a deranged priest arriving in Swamp Thing’s parish. Her pacing’s a little off though–there’s not enough in the second act of the issue. Collins races to the end to bring Alec back in.

Sure, it’s his comic and all, but it can do a little without him. He also just arrives when called now, which should make life simpler for Abby.

I like it–nice Mandrake and Jaasta art–there’re just too many changes.


Any Deadly Thing; writer, Nancy A. Collins; pencillers, Tom Mandrake and Bill Jaaska; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

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