The Boys 41 (April 2010)

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Butcher’s suspicions–instead of him just resolving them–play out with spying and so on. It makes him less of a character. Ennis is now playing him for laughs. It’s a very strange misfire.

The best scene in the comic isn’t actually with any of the Boys. Well, except a funny flashback. Otherwise, the best scene is when the sincere den mother of Super Duper talks down the team’s new leader. Ennis is actually really good at sincerity, though he seems embarrassed about it.

Also trying is all the dating stuff with Annie and Hughie. Way to suck the life out of the characters. She’s thinking of quitting and is now boring. Hughie’s just his regular wholesome self, which is similarly boring.

The arc isn’t shaping up well. Ennis would have done better with just a Super Duper limited series. They’re a whole lot more interesting than a suspicious Butcher.

CREDITS

The Innocents, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Darick Robertson; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher 1 (May 2013)

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With the exception of the decaying corpses, Richard Corben actually goes for bright and well-lighted for Fall of the House of Usher.

I’m unfamiliar with Poe’s source story, but Corben has a protagonist called to visit an old university friend. They’re both artists and the friend–the titular Usher–has taken to doing incredibly like life portraits of his sister.

Corben’s art is just fantastic; he’s constantly surpassing himself this issue. He’ll have one unbelievably great page and then do another even better one.

The tone is particularly interesting too. He goes for uncanny, with only the occasional flash of something visually disturbing. There’s something going on behind the scenes–something the protagonist doesn’t know–and the reader’s acknowledgement of its presence is what makes the comic so uncomfortable.

The cliffhanger seems a little forced, but it’s otherwise excellent work. If only Corben could do twice as many pages.

CREDITS

Writer, artist and colorist, Richard Corben; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Daniel Chabon, Shantel LaRocque and Scott Allie; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 87 (February 2006)

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The Flash Thompson thing is a somewhat funny distraction–Silver Sable kidnapped him instead of Peter–but it doesn’t make up for Ultimate Silver Sable being the worst villain in this comic since Geldof or whatever. Bendis tries real hard on her and her sidekicks too, which makes his failure more obvious.

But this issue also has Peter dating Kitty Pryde and being utterly insensitive to Mary Jane. As she was utterly insensitive to him quite a bit, it should read like just desserts but it doesn’t. Bendis never gave them closure. I’m hoping it’s intentional and not Bendis forgetting about something else.

Kitty’s a vaguely fun addition to the cast, but she doesn’t seem to have any depth. I was hoping she’d meet May but no luck there.

The Ultimate Vision backup is a short, boring galactic history lesson. Whoever decided to make her visually female is a moron.

CREDITS

Silver Sable, Part Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Justin Ponsor. Ultimate Vision, Visions, Part Four of Six; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, John Romita Jr.; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 7 (March 2013)

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It’s funny how the Zaius subplot is actually where Bechko and Hardman have the most problems, even though it’s mostly a talking heads subplot. They’re keeping the Zaius subplot… well, it’s kind of the soil. It feeds into the other two plots and presumably could make major changes for them when they all collide. But it’s separate; the Zira subplot is separate too, but it won’t affect anything.

And the writers just can’t make it interesting. Zaius is impotent and too proud to listen to his wife, who actually knows what she’s talking about. One has to wonder who made that decision, Bechko or Hardman.

The Zira subplot this issue features a community meeting, not particularly interesting, but there are some really nice character moments. Cataclysm works because of these details from the writers.

The Cornelius subplot is action-packed and exciting. Great visuals from Couicero and Taibo help lots.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 3 (July 2013)

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I’m getting really sick of Carey’s cliffhangers. He doesn’t have a good resolution for the previous issue’s and then he has another weak one here. He’s introducing a bunch of information this time in the cliffhanger, presumably to encourage one to come back next time….

It’s maybe the third expository diarrhea this issue. It’s incredible how much exposition Carey has here; over and over and over. But never about the single interesting thing–the protagonist’s superpowers cause his brother’s husband to lose his voice. No explanation why, even though the protagonist (his name’s not memorable) seems to know.

There are some really good moments throughout, but Carey is avoiding way too much. His pacing on the series isn’t paying off and all his conversations are contrived for expository purposes.

The problem is Carey’s approach. He’s spending too much time on the villains instead of his protagonist.

The comic’s not gelling.

CREDITS

Grudge War, Part Two; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Boys 40 (March 2010)

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Ennis takes the Butcher finding out about Hughie and Annie thing in an unexpected direction. It makes Butcher suspicious Hughie’s a double agent, which leads to a couple lengthy talking heads scenes of Hughie being normal and Butcher being suspicious.

The first such scene is fine. The second’s practically unbearable. It just goes on and on.

There’s also some stuff with the bad corporate guys talking about the Homelander. Ennis is setting up for something big down the line and not being coy about it.

And he introduces another super team–Super Duper. They’re his riff on the original Legion of Super-Heroes. Lame powers, innocent minds.

There’s not much to the issue. The Super Duper heroes are apparently sweet, Butcher is suspicious–he talks to the Legend about it for another lengthy talking heads scene–and so on… but Ennis really doesn’t do anything.

His plotting seems checked out.

CREDITS

The Innocents, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Darick Robertson; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Fashion Beast 10 (May 2013)

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What a bad last issue. Poor Percio ends up doing something like four to eight panels a page to get all the story done and he doesn’t work well under pressure. Lots and lots of loose art.

There’s a fight scene at the climax. A pointless one. Actually, wait, most of this issue is pointless. Then there’s the goofy finish. In his adapting, somehow Johnston has drained everything good about Fashion Beast–as a comic–and instead puts forward this terribly done mimic of a movie.

Lots of the problems–probably all of them–are from the original script and plot. Moore doesn’t get off the hook (but he clearly didn’t care enough about Beast to adapt it himself). There’s barely any dialogue; the issue races. There isn’t any time for personality.

It’s an unfortunate end. Johnston’s lack of ambition–or freedom–in adapting Moore’s original script does it in.

CREDITS

The World; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.

Ultimate Spider-Man 86 (January 2006)

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Maybe not everything should get an Ultimate version.

For example, Bendis opens the issue with Ultimate Damage Control. Does there need to be an Ultimate Damage Control… probably not. But Bendis uses it for exposition and to frame his flashback. It’s okay enough.

Except the arc’s not about them, it’s about Ultimate Silver Sable, who’s apparently a corporate espionage person. Does she need an Ultimate version? Hard to say, but definitely not the way Bendis writes this issue.

She has all these morons working for her (the Wild Pack, I think) and Bendis is clearly enjoying writing their dialogue… but it’s all for a useless comic. He’s impressing himself again, which never goes well for the series.

The twist at the end, which should be played for laughs, ends up being vicious. The arc’s a misfire so far.

And the Ultimate Vision backup? Pointless but inoffensive writing; truly hideous art.

CREDITS

Silver Sable, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Justin Ponsor. Ultimate Vision, Visions, Part One of Six; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, John Romita Jr.; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith. Letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 6 (February 2013)

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As far as expansive mythology goes, Planet of the Apes doesn’t have much. The standards repeat themselves very quickly. But Beckho and Hardman manage to repeat one of those very same standards and hide it all until the final reveal. They raise all sorts of other possibilities–this issue of Cataclysm, almost against itself, has a lot of adventure to it–and then reveal something extremely logical.

The writers keep their three way split. Zaius gets his own subplot (having his wife school him is awesome), Zira gets her own and then Cornelius–with Dr. Milo along–gets a third. There’s also Zaius’s son, who figures into the Cornelius plot; he’s not a lead, but he’s close.

The only real problem is an art one and penciller Damian Couceiro–with Mariano Taibo ably inking–can’t fix. The chimps look alike. I kept confusing Cornelius and Milo.

Otherwise, it’s fine stuff.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 2 (June 2013)

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Carey really needs to work on his cliffhangers for Risk. He passes up an interesting one–the protagonist’s wife wondering about him talking to a woman in his sleep–for a common one. Supervillain fight leading to an explosion, the standard, in other words.

It’s as though Carey knows all he has to set the comic apart is the protagonist being a dedicated family man–there’s a really forced moment when another cop refers to the family as his “blessings”–but he also doesn’t want to tell that story. Instead, he wants to have his protagonist hunt down the bad guys and get into big, action-packed fights.

But the comic’s still decent, even if it feels undercooked. Carey’s a good writer, even when he’s forcing, and there are some interesting moments. For example, the protagonist’s superpowers has a side effect–he repulses water.

It’s still too soon to tell.

CREDITS

Grudge War, Part One; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Five Weapons 5 (July 2013)

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Robinson gives the series a really simplistic finish, but doesn’t even finish the series. He’s continuing it–this issue is the first without a sensational hard cliffhanger and instead he goes with a lame soft one.

It’s impossible to say if the change to ongoing is what hurts this issue. It could be the last issue. The cliffhanger’s ominous enough, but it’s also not the problem with the comic.

All of a sudden the adults and their back stories become really important and the lead fades into the background. Robinson tries to surprise with an epilogue, not realizing he’s made the protagonist so bland his actual future beyond the story doesn’t matter. It was never the point.

It’d be a weak finish to a limited series, but as an ongoing, hopefully it’s just a weak bridge.

As for Robinson’s big reveals this issue? They’re all weak. Every one of them.

CREDITS

The Final Exam; writer, artist and letterer, Jimmie Robinson; colorist, Paul Little; editor, Laura Tavishati; publisher, Image Comics.

2000 AD 13 (21 May 1977)

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With a couple exceptions, it’s one of the better 2000 AD progs so far.

Invasion is decent; very nice art from Dorey and Finley-Day has learned how to plot out a rewarding cliffhanger.

A real surprise is Flesh. Without dinosaurs–this issue’s just future men against giant spiders–the comic is a lot better. Great art from Felix Carrion too.

Okay, Harlem Heroes is still lame. The Heroes are finally losing a game (against the Scots), but it doesn’t make the comic any more interesting.

And Steve Moore’s disappointing on his second Dan Dare outing. He spends way too much time with the villains and almost none with Dan Dare. If the villain pages were good, it’d be different, but they’re lame.

Jesus Redondo illustrates a fantastic M.A.C.H. 1. It’s all action and gorgeously done.

And Dredd is good. Wagner gets in some funny moments; Turner’s art’s passable too.

CREDITS

Invasion, The Doomsdale Scenario, Part One; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Mike Dorey; letterer, Jack Potter. Flesh, Book One, Part Thirteen; writer, Studio Giolitti; artist, Felix Carrion; letterer, J. Swain. Harlem Heroes, Part Thirteen; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Hollow World, Part Two; writer, Steve Moore; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Bill Nuttall. M.A.C.H. 1, Airship; writer, Nick Allen; artist, Jesus Redondo; letterer, Potter. Judge Dredd, Robot Wars, Part Four; writer, John Wagner; artist, Ron Turner; letterer, Potter. Editor, Pat Mills; publisher, IPC.

Fashion Beast 9 (April 2013)

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Well, Tomboy finally gets a proper name.

But no lines. Lines aren’t important for anyone but the evil ladies working the clothes factory this issue. And the custodian girl gets a few scenes. It’s odd how Johnston brings things together from the first issue in the ninth. His sequential adaptation of the script is terrible on the technical level.

Lots of time passes this issue, with definite description–six weeks; it feels the like a comic for the most part, like this portion of Moore’s original script lends itself best to the format.

It’s too bad it’s not a good issue. Some of the dialogue’s good, but there are major plot holes and the whole thing’s inconsequential. The issue ends reversing a decision made at the start of the issue. It’s like half the issue didn’t happen.

Doll becomes a practical background player in her own comic.

It’s a shame.

CREDITS

The Star; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual 1 (October 2005)

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So if Peter can’t date Mary Jane, who can he date? Kitty Pryde, of course. Kitty Pryde? Why Kitty Pryde? Presumably because she’s age appropriate and is a superhero too.

Bendis opens the issue juxtaposing Kitty and Peter, showing how alone they are… and establishing Kitty has always had a crush on Spider-Man.

It’s silly and forced.

Then they go on a very cute date. Bendis overwrites it. Lots and lots of dialogue and nothing of consequence said. There are a few superfluous action scenes too; Bendis just doesn’t seem to know what to do with so much space.

Mary Jane doesn’t make an appearance, neither does Aunt May or anyone to play off Peter. With the Mark Brooks pencils, it barely even feels like Ultimate Spider-Man. The Flash and Kong cameo isn’t enough.

Bendis had an idea and, after this issue, it seems like a bad one.

CREDITS

The Date; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Brooks; inkers, Jaime Mendoza and Scott Hanna; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 5 (January 2013)

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Bechko and Hardman continue their setup for the first Planet of the Apes movie with… well, I guess it’s kind of a post-disaster story. They’ve introduced all of the primary apes from the first movies, except maybe the nasty gorilla from the second one, and are doing a mundane prequel.

There’s action, sure. There’s a giant mutated bear or some such thing. Couceiro illustrates a fantastic action sequence involving it attacking the apes journeying to a different settlement. There’s a lot of content in this issue–the writers band together this team of explorers and introduce their mission in the first two thirds of the issue, while dealing with some other things, then send them off.

Not all of the writers’ choices are good ones. The food shortage and the greedy gorillas feel forced. But there’s a great scene with Milo the scientist to compensate.

It’s still surprisingly okay.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 1 (May 2013)

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Mike Carey’s got one big problem with Suicide Risk… he’s doing a new realistic superpowers series and everyone’s been doing those series for almost a decade now. The shades of Powers and The Boys don’t reflect on Carey; they’re just inevitable at this point.

He does introduce a couple new things into the mix. His protagonist is a cop–maybe SWAT, it’s not clear from this issue–who isn’t on some special team or assignment. He’s just always having to deal with the supervillains.

And the superpowered folk are almost all supervillains. Carey makes sure to establish it in the first issue–even the good guys eventually go bad. It’s just too much power for them, apparently.

The writing is all good in terms of dialogue and pacing, but it’s just too soon to tell where Carey’s heading. He’s intentionally opaque.

Elena Casagrande’s art is successful, combining realistic and fantastic.

CREDITS

Getting a Bit Short on Heroes; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Five Weapons 4 (May 2013)

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Robinson gets in a lot more backstory–both for the lead, Tyler, and the principal and the nurse–and only skims over a little in the present action. He’s bringing things to a close, perhaps a little hurriedly, but he’s got some nice scenes to make up for it. Five Weapons is a comic about action where the most interesting scenes are the talking about action. Very odd.

This issue maintains the now familiar structure–resolve the cliffhanger, character development, work up to the next cliffhanger. The character development this issue seems a tad slight–Tyler is second fiddle to the supporting cast, but at least Robinson has gotten better with his internal monologue. He’s using thought balloons less and better.

There’s a dual, maybe even triple, cliffhanger this issue. Robinson keeps upping it during the issue’s last pages. Two of the three have actual danger, which Weapons could use.

CREDITS

Nat The Gat; writer, artist and letterer, Jimmie Robinson; colorist, Paul Little; editor, Laura Tavishati; publisher, Image Comics.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 2

Only four short weeks later… the second episode of the Comics Fondle podcast.

This episode, Vernon and I talk about new comic books–with a lot of time spent on Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, a little about what the San Diego Comic-Con is and isn’t doing for comics, I eat some humble pie regarding Greg Rucka and Lazarus and we try to convince people to read some Kevin Huizenga.

you can also subscribe on iTunes…

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 10 (October 1983)

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It’s an adequate, underwhelming resolution. Michelinie handles the cliffhanger from last issue well then sends Indy off into the jungle. It’s the jungle from the beginning of Raiders, but there’s no fanfare to its return. There is another Raiders connection–the villain has a secret–but it’s lame.

Michelinie also gets history very wrong concerning when the Nazis starting plotting against the United States. Maybe it’s different in the Indiana Jones universe.

Like I said, the opening is fine. Reed does much better with two people in his action panels. So when it’s Indy alone, while the panels are sometimes good, there’s no excitement. It’s just Indiana Jones in another jungle, fighting another couple bad guys.

Michelinie’s steam runs out just after Indy gets back to the jungle too. He figured out how to resolve the issue and wrote the rest of the pages to fit.

Still, it’s not terrible.

CREDITS

The Gold Goddess, Chapter Two: Amazon Death-Ride; writers, Archie Goodwin and David Michelinie; penciller, Dan Reed; inker, Danny Bulanadi; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Fashion Beast 8 (March 2013)

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More problems. Doll goes back to her old neighborhood and Tomboy shows her how everything has changed.

Only Johnston–and Moore, he doesn’t get off the hook for this one–never showed how it was when Doll was there. There’s no passage of time; Doll could have been a model for a couple weeks, a couple months or a year. Since Johnston and Moore never established the ground situation or how much time has passed since the beginning of Fashion Beast, it’s hard to say.

The lengthy tour with Tomboy explaining why functional fashion is better is trying. It’s Moore’s second big monologue about the place of fashion in the world and not even the first one worked. Fashion Beast isn’t enough about fashion for these monologues.

And then the shocker of an ending. It almost reads like Johnston hadn’t read the whole script when breaking it out to issues.

CREDITS

The Lovers; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.

The Superior Spider-Man 14 (September 2013)

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Umm. Couple things. First, Slott doesn’t have Otto narrate this issue. Maybe the first Superior without some insight from him. Second, Marvel never resolved that “Shadowland” crossover? Wasn’t it like five years ago?

Otto–with an army of spider-robots and spider soldiers–cleans up the Shadowland compound this issue. Apparently Kingpin has had a fortress in New York City and no one did anything about it. I love how Marvel zombies claim 616 is so much more realistic than DC.

Anyway, it’s kind of obvious why Slott doesn’t get into Otto’s head… because it turns out he’s letting crime continue. He might even be in cahoots with the Goblin King, he might even be selling drugs. Or at least employing drug dealers.

I hope Slott’s got something good up his sleeve because otherwise this setup will be for nothing. The issue feels off, like the storyline wrap-up’s starting.

CREDITS

A Blind Eye; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazab; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 85 (January 2006)

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Good issue. Finally. The last few have been trying.

Bendis still has his pacing problems, but at least the comic’s amusing. The scene where Black Cat meets Peter Parker had me laughing out loud, even if Bagley and Hanna’s art for it is weak.

The resolution to the big gang fight works well too, though it’s unclear why Bendis brought in so many new characters for it. None of them get a resolution, which makes the time Bendis spent on them earlier even more pointless.

And the soft cliffhangers are good. There are a couple, one for the Kingpin–Bendis really didn’t use him enough this arc as it turns out–and one for Peter. The Peter one just shows Aunt May should probably get half the comic to herself.

She’s definitely more interesting than Ultimate Moon Knight.

Bendis’s finish makes up for the arc’s weaker issues. Well, pretty much.

CREDITS

Warriors, Part Seven; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Five Weapons 3 (April 2013)

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Robinson doubles back quite a bit here–the lead (who he’s still calling Tyler, which might be a mislead, might really be the kid’s name) now has to face off against another of the weapon clubs. Only in the previous issue, Robinson established he’d somehow bested the other clubs… just not in a way worth showing.

Here he takes on the archery club. As usual, Robinson saves the big resolution for the next issue. He still has his pacing magic–this issue opens with the fight scene for Tyler beating the staff club, then moves into everything else, but Robinson has now raised more questions than are worth having open.

For example, why’s the principal out to get Tyler? Robinson can only keep so many subplots in the air at once. He’s starting to fumble them.

It’s still a rather good read, it’s just too clear how Robinson’s forcing things.

CREDITS

Joon The Loon and Darryl The Arrow; writer, artist and letterer, Jimmie Robinson; colorist, Paul Little; editor, Laura Tavishati; publisher, Image Comics.

Day Men 1 (July 2013)

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I like Day Men. It’s really over-written at times–there’s a lot of narration from Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson for the protagonist and it’s not particularly neccesary. It’s set in a world with vampires, the lead is a human who does their day work for them.

The real draw is artist Brian Stelfreeze, of course. The script could be pretty much anything and he’d do a good job of it. Great action scenes in particular, even with the pitch black setting. Beautiful composition.

There are some good details, some fantastic character work between the humans and their vampire employers and a really good pace.

The narration goes on and on and on–Gagnon and Nelson go from using it to establish the ground situation to revealing background information about supporting cast–but the other writing compensates.

The end is distressing as they rush into the series’s second act, but Men’s good.

CREDITS

Writers, Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson; artist, Brian Stelfreeze; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit 1 (July 2013)

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Does Mark Waid always write Betty so awful? Not poorly awful, but awful to Cliff awful. It’s inexplicable why Cliff would hang around such a terrible human being… makes him a weak character too.

The Spirit and The Rocketeer aren’t exactly a good team-up, but Waid does find a decent connection for Peevy and Dolan–World War I–and the Paul Smith art at least looks really good. But a big airborne fight? Complete waste of time and pages.

Having Ellen appreciate Cliff isn’t a bad move, but unless Waid has them run off together… he’s never going to make up for his Betty characterization.

There’s some organized crime subplot too. It’s not particularly interesting. It’s also unclear how long Cliff’s been the Rocketeer or his current ground situation.

The Smith art has charm and Waid does okay with the Spirit cast, but it feels like a cash grab.

CREDITS

Pulp Friction, Part One; writer, Mark Waid; artist, Paul Smith; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editors, Scott Dunbier and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Lazarus 2 (July 2013)

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Sort of a lot happens but also not a lot. Rucka really plays up incest between the siblings, which would have been shocking if he hadn’t done it twice.

There’s a lot of suggestions here too about Forever. She was genetically engineered, probably grown or cloned. Rucka treats it like a big deal because she doesn’t know, but it’s not a big deal for the reader.

Not much of Lazarus feels original, which I might have complained about before. The setting–dystopian Western United States–aside. It’s kind of like Dune and probably something set in feudal Italy.

There is a great bit at the end with Forever; it’s the only time she really gets a scene to herself. Rucka does well with it too.

But even though it’s not original, even though it’s repetitive, there’s Lark. And Lark does some beautiful art for it. Great muted action in particular.

CREDITS

Family, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; artist and letterer, Michael Lark; colorist, Santi Arcas; publisher, Image Comics.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 9 (September 1983)

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Michelinie–writing off a plot from Archie Goodwin–does a direct sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s practically a reunion issue too. While Marion and Marcus show up all the time, a slimmed down Sallah is in the first half of the issue (Michelinie sticks to the established Further plot structure).

Sallah and Indy are after the gold trinket from the beginning of Raiders. They run afoul of bad guys, of course, who turn out to be the natives with the blowguns from the movie. Only Michelinie’s dialogue for them makes them sound like cartoon radical Muslims; a South American native wouldn’t call a Westerner the infidel.

Meanwhile, Sallah and Indy’s friendship is a great example of how Muslims and WASPs can get along. Very strange.

The finish has Indy fighting the natives on a skyscraper.

Nice pencils from Dan Reed.

As usual, Michelinie delivers an okay comic.

CREDITS

The Gold Goddess, Chapter One: Xomec’s Raiders; writers, Archie Goodwin and David Michelinie; penciller, Dan Reed; inker, Danny Bulanadi; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Fashion Beast 7 (February 2013)

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Percio gets Fashion Beast’s most thankless task… trying to make the characters act.

With Johnston sticking to Moore’s dialogue and apparently unwilling to make it fit the comic medium better, Percio’s actually the one who has to make it work.

This issue features the boss–the titular beast–unintentionally (one assumes) flirting with Doll. So Percio has to illustrate his desire, her confusion and then her enthusiasm to it. All while the dialogue works against that reading; it’s a subtext and it’d be fine if it were acted, but comics don’t do well with subtext. Especially not with Johnston involved.

The result is a fast, slight read. There’s a lame opening montage, which Johnston could’ve done better in a page with a paragraph of totally acceptable exposition, the seduction scene and then Doll and Tomboy arguing.

Fashion Beast has a lot of problems (read: Johnston), but charms its way through.

CREDITS

The Fool; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.

Hawkeye Annual 1 (September 2013)

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Fraction and Javier Pulido give Kate the spotlight, setting her up on her own in Los Angeles. Fair warning, there’s an amazing Caddyshack reference and a cute “Rockford Files” one too. I saw the latter coming, but the Caddyshack thing? Fraction’s beautifully muted about it.

Speaking of beautiful, Pulido has a fantastic style for the annual. A lot of the panels are silhouettes, giving the story an almost comic strip feel, focusing the reader’s attention on the dialogue, but also the scenery. There’s great scenery here. There’s another device where Fraction tells Kate’s internal monologue in these little thought boxes, complete with Pulido illustrating her internal expression at the thoughts.

The story itself involves Madame Masque out for revenge and Kate having to grow up fast. The two women play quite well off each other.

It’s a shame Fraction’s experiments with the regular series aren’t as successful as this annual.

CREDITS

West Coast Avenger; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Javier Pulido; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Tom Brennan and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 84 (December 2005)

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Wow, the pacing’s actually worse with this issue. Frighteningly, it’s not even Bendis worst pacing on Ultimate Spider-Man.

The issue opens with a fight scene. There are maybe ten recognizable characters and then Hammerhead’s thugs. Bagley can’t make the fight scenes look interesting; it’s just an incompressible jumble of activity.

There are occasional pauses for banter–Peter keeps flirting with Elektra as they fight, Moon Knight keeps acting psychotic, Hammerhead keeps threatening everyone. The only interesting part is when Peter calls the cops for help–as Spider-Man. It’s a great honest moment.

But it doesn’t end well for him, as he’s just used a McFarlane amount of web fluid and conveniently forgotten to keep all the people webbed.

Bendis also has an odd moment when he acknowledges Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, which I thought was out of continuity….

The issue could run a third of its page count.

CREDITS

Warriors, Part Six; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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