The Maze Agency Annual 1 (August 1990)

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The annual has three stories. The first has Rick Magyar, Darick Robertson and William Messner-Loebs illustrating a Spirit homage. It’s a lot of fun; Barr’s script for it is very fast. Gabe’s on a mission, runs into Jennifer, both having Spirit references in their appearance. It’d be impossible to tell the story without the art angle. Very nice opening.

Sadly, the second story just goes on and on. Allen Curtis is a mediocre artist and Barr asks him to do a lot. The mystery involves a corpse in a moving box. It takes forever to get going, then Barr rushes the big finale. Curtis doesn’t draw characters distinctly enough; two suspects look exactly the same, making the end confusing.

The last story–with Adam Hughes pencils and Magyar inks–is a reprint of a convention special. The mystery’s solution is confounding, but the excellent art makes up for it.

B- 

CREDITS

A Night at the Rose Petal; artists, Rick Magyar, Darick Robertson and William Messner-Loebs; colorists, Michelle Basil and Susan Glod; letterer, Vickie Williams. Moving Stiffs; penciller, Allen Curtis; inkers, Keith Aiken and Jim Sinclair; colorists, Basil and Glod; letterer, Williams; Murder in Mint Condition; penciller, Adam Hughes; inker, Magyar; colorist, Glod; letterer, Bob Pinaha. Writer, Mike W. Barr; editors, Michael Eury and David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

Fashion Beast 6 (January 2013)

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The next big twist is predictable. It just had to work out the way it does–I guess there was one other alternative but Moore and company had done enough with gender. It makes the majority of the issue sort of superfluous.

The real moment comes at the end when Doll becomes the protagonist again. Tomboy doesn’t show up the entire issue, which is a good thing for it too. Johnston hasn’t been letting Fashion Beast breath. He’s been putting things too close together.

This issue is a talking heads one and there’s only so much space with it. For once, Johnston doesn’t try to overextend the content.

It’s an odd issue–in some ways, it’s the best so far–but only because of that opening. One conversation allows for the series’s sublimest moment, but that one conversation isn’t anything special in itself, it’s just the fuel.

An excellent issue.

CREDITS

The Devil; 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 83 (November 2005)

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Still with the pacing problems. Bendis does get around to a good conversation between Peter and Mary Jane, but there’s also a lot of rubbish with Moon Knight–Ultimate Moon Knight apparently has four multiple personalities who hang out at a swing set and banter with each other–and some with the Ultimate Kung Fu duo.

Oh, and Elektra going after some of Kingpin’s misbehaving flunkies.

Bendis front loaded the arc with all the actual content and is now just padding it out. Even Black Cat, who’s seemingly making an impression on Peter, is really just more padding. They’re not going to hook up or anything because Bendis still keeps things very chaste. The flirting’s just flirting, it’s all safe.

I can’t think of anything else in this one. Except the ending when it’s obvious Bendis has overloaded the arc with guest stars. Even the villain finds it all exasperating.

CREDITS

Warriors, Part Five; 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 1 (February 2013)

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Jimmie Robinson takes the whole first issue of Five Weapons to even hint at the ground situation. I thought he did it all right away but then he reveals more later on.

It takes place at a school where kids learn different kinds of weapons–five choices, hence the title–to prepare them. These kids are all sons and daughters of assassins. It’s not clear the world is mostly made up of assassins until the last few pages. I just thought Robinson was having fun.

The lead, Tyler, is a prodigy. Or so it seems. He’s not violent, but inquisitive. Robinson sets up a fantastic supporting cast, hiding the exposition in the first day of school routine, and still has time to work towards a good cliffhanger.

The cliffhanger’s so good I kept looking for more pages of story. Robinson sneaks it in after a flashback.

Weapons’s a fun comic.

CREDITS

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

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