So Buttons 1 (2007)

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So Buttons is an anthology of autobiographical anecdotes from writer Jonathan Baylis. They’re long form comic strips, ranging from one page to three usually, each strip with a different artist.

None of the stories are particularly exciting. The first is just Baylis recounting a conversation with his father. There’s some funny strips about dating, there’s some stuff about going to Germany (Baylis’s comic self is Jewish… probably wouldn’t be funny if he wasn’t, it’d be awkward), there’s a piece on his sexual disinterest in interracial encounters.

That last one is as close as Buttons gets to being controversial. Otherwise it’s all quite calm and relaxed. Exactly the kind of thing you might read in a free weekly.

The art’s iffy. T.J. Kirsch and Mr. Alan accomplish the most of what they attempt. David Beyer Jr. doesn’t do well with his realism attempts.

Buttons is bland; it lacks anything distinct.

CREDITS

So… My Dad Got Drafted?; artist, Mr. Alan. So… Racist?; artist, David Beyer Jr. So… the Sun Won’t Come Out Tomorrow; artist, T.J. Kirsch. So… I’m Dating a Comic; artist, Kirsch. So… She Moved In With Me Anyway; artist, Kirsch. So… Heaven Smells Like Bacon; artist, Beyer. So… Only Nixon Could’ve Gone to China; artist, Beyer. Writer, Jonathan Baylis; publisher, Alchemy Comix.

Doc Unknown 1 (2013)

Doc Unknown

Not all of Doc Unknown is terrible. Ryan Cody’s designs are pretty good. The series feels a little noirish, with a Killer Croc knock-off as the villain (his design isn’t good) but it feels somewhat retro. The hero, Doc Unknown, feels very Republic serial. And Cody’s art isn’t terrible. At times, the comic at least looks professional.

Sadly, it never reads professional. Writer and creator Fabian Rangel Jr. writes some really bad dialogue. It’s not even bad expository dialogue. He can’t even write a greeting well. He also likes splitting sentences between panels to show ironic turns of events.

It’s the pits.

He also goes for every cheap trick he can find–actually, I think it’s more of a Hellboy with superheroes knock-off than Republic serial. He should’ve hired himself a competent writer.

The backup, about a different superhero suffering depression, is pretty dreadful too.

It’s bad stuff.

CREDITS

The Museum of Madness; letterer, Ed Brisson. The Ghost & The Time Machine. Writer, Fabian Rangel Jr.; artist, Ryan Cody; publisher, Believe in Comics.

Batman: The Widening Gyre 4 (February 2010)

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Uh, oh, there are getting to be things I like here. Smith has turned it into a domestic–Batman fights crime while Silver waits home for him. The stuff with the new goat guy revealing his face to Bruce too soon is dumb; Smith can only rationalize comic book logic so far.

But it opens with a little bit about the relative lack of danger Silver Age goof villains had–before the Joker appeared (while not technically accurate, Smith sells it)–Smith’s trying things a little again. He’s treating Widening Gyre like it’s disconnected from the other Batman comics, which I do like.

He still writes Silver poorly. One can tell he’s writing the dialogue for Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow. He also writes Catwoman poorly–and Flanagan draws her even worse–but he’s trying to give Batman a grown-up problem.

The ambition is nice. Comic’s still lame though.

CREDITS

The Centre Cannot Hold; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

Stumptown 2 (October 2012)

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The art gets worse this issue. Much, much worse. Southworth quits drawing noses all of a sudden. And the comic being in color does nothing to help it. In black and white, Southworth would have had to do some work, to finish an object. Instead, he lets the colors fill in the blanks and they can’t because Southworth hasn’t got the objects in place to be colored.

Ugly, ugly comic.

But this issue’s a little better. There’s a definite surprise at the end. Even the bad stuff–like Dex flirting with a possible suspect–isn’t as bad as it could be. Maybe because Rucka opens with the worst possible scene, a DEA agent warning Dex off the case.

Maybe if Rucka were trying something different with Stumptown, instead of doing a genre standard. It reads like a TV show, which seems to be Rucka’s goal, but not a successful one.

CREDITS

The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorist, Rico Renzi; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

Swamp Thing 139 (January 1994)

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Foreman relies heavily on dumb pop psychology to “cure” Alec, but Rebecca Guay on pencils and DeMulder on inks make up for some of it. Black Orchid and her sidekick guest star, traveling through Alec’s mind (literally… he’s turned it into a plant art installation in the swamp).

There’s some really bad dialogue and some strange ideas Foreman never really explores (why does Alec’s superego parrot Superman’s truth and justice ideals). It does read somewhat slow, but the art’s fantastic at the beginning so only the end is sludgy.

Literally nothing is resolved from the previous issue. Alec has just shut down, which probably wouldn’t be allowed since he’s got to protect the Green. Having a Black Orchid tie-in doesn’t fit the story at all. Foreman doesn’t dwell on the dumber leftovers of Collins’s run, however.

It’s not a good comic, but Guay’s great and Foreman’s ambitions aren’t trite.

CREDITS

The Mind Fields, Part Two; writer, Dick Foreman; penciller, Rebecca Guay; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

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