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.

Five Weapons 2 (March 2013)

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Robinson probably gets in two issues worth of content, if you measure by what Marvel and DC put out. He doesn’t just resolve the previous issue’s cliffhanger, he introduces and resolves a plot twist–it’s particularly interesting because it’s so obvious and he can’t possibly expect the reader to buy it… and he doesn’t. It’s just how he’s pacing out the issue.

He establishes a new villain or two, he gives the lead a bunch of new friends, he has the evil schoolteachers work behind the scenes… I think there might be another action scene in there. Maybe not.

There’s also the flashback confirming the reader’s suspicions and then there’s the new cliffhanger. Robinson spends the whole issue building to this cliffhanger too. It’s not an afterthought.

The only weak spot is the protagonist talking to himself. Not sure why Robinson didn’t use thought balloons (he does later).

Otherwise, awesome.

CREDITS

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

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