Black Orchid 1 (November 1988)


Black Orchid, conceptually, is a disconnect. That disconnect gets the reader to pay immediate attention. Neil Gaiman is doing a very “real life” superhero story. Sure, it’s a fantastical superhero story, but he makes Lex Luthor into a corporate villain. Bad guys kill superheroes; they don’t mess around.

But Gaiman’s got Dave McKean on the art. Although McKean’s a little too static for the talking scenes, he does this wondrous painted art. Orchid is magnificent to behold, whether McKean’s journeying through the subconscious or doing a blockbuster action scene. Really, the only awkward moments are the talking scenes. The people are fine, it’s when he’s trying to imply facial movement.

The series all hinges on Lex Luthor not tying up loose ends, which results in an abusive widower to hunt down his wife’s friend.

The titular Black Orchid barely plays a part this issue.

It’s an impressive–if problematic–comic.


One Thing Is Certain; writer, Neil Gaiman; painter, Dave McKean; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

Hawkeye 3 (December 2012)


Wow. This issue is simply wonderful.

Fraction’s not worrying about setting up the characters, he’s not worried about coming up with an interesting hook, he’s just trying to have fun. And Hawkeye is fun. Lots of fun.

It’s kind of like a TV show. Clint and Kate bicker while they fight crime. Kind of like he and Mockingbird used to do, only without baggage.

The issue consists of Clint going out to buy tape to label his trick arrows, meeting a girl, hooking up, getting involved with some Mini car-driving bad guys, saving the girl, all while bickering with Kate and showing why trick arrows are really important.

Aja’s probably essential. I can’t imagine the issue being so much for–or so rewarding with so little content–without Aja. He’s already stylized but the action just takes it to another level. He never sacrifices anything.

It’s a fantastic comic.


Cherry; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Before Watchmen: Comedian 5 (March 2013)


Azzarello finally pushes too hard with the political history lesson and loses control of the series. It’s not a bad issue, just mediocre. Jones can’t draw Nixon, which is a problem.

Eddie barely figures into the comic at all. He’s trying to get through the jungle, fighting some Viet Cong–there are flashbacks to atrocities–but Azzarello sets it all against a report about his activities in Vietnam. It’s a familiar comic book device, maybe even one natural to the medium, but it changes the series’s natural progression. Just when Eddie was becoming a real character–or showing signs of being one–Azzarello removes his agency.

There’s barely anything to talk about with the issue, as Azzarello hinges it all on the big revelation Nixon is somehow involved. The issue might have worked better set against a history book than a CIA report.

Still, it’s not bad, just rather disappointing.


Kicks; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, J.G. Jones; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 124 (October 1992)


Talk about anti-climatic… Collins grows Swamp Thing to Godzilla-size for a reveal and then has him pass the buck at the end of the issue.

The story’s not bad. Presumably a former Swamp Thing made a deal with some South American natives who worshipped to the elemental (including blood sacrifices, which Alec reveals taste good in the soil) and now their descendants need help. They call their corn god and Alec arrives instead.

He helps them against the Sunderland Corporation, but it turns out not even Swamp Thing can defeat the military industrial complex. Or something.

Alec has a lot of interior monologue this issue–the most in years, I think–and it turns out he’s scared for his family. Being Swamp Thing doesn’t mean he can protect them from the bad guys.

Maybe he should dress up as a bat.

While not terrible, it’s far from good.


Husks; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Scot Eaton; inker, Greg Baker; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

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