Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday (2007)

Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday is Alex Cox’s sequel to his film, Repo Man. However, Cox did not intend to do a comic sequel, he intended to do a film sequel and turned his film script into a comic book (with help from artist Chris Bones).

Now, Bones does do some great work here. Waldo is one crazy looking comic book, but Bones is referencing all sorts of punk and underground art and Cox’s script is all about trying to be a sellout when no one wants to hire any more sellouts.

But Cox and Bones play most of this subplot out in montage and Cox doesn’t seem to understand a movie montage works completely different than the four similar panels on one page thing Bones is doing. Cox doesn’t get–or maybe doesn’t care (he didn’t pursue Waldo as a graphic novel)–how to pace out a comic book. He’s not in the same control of timing, which makes Waldo a fast, if sometimes interesting read. It just isn’t compelling after the initial buzz wears off… not to mention Cox paces the third act terribly for the comic medium. I completely missed the story was supposed to be building to something….

Also strange is how much Cox has the protagonist talk. He’s supposed to be Emilio Estevez from Repo Man, who didn’t talk in lengthy paragraph monologues.

While Bones’s art is good, if the Waldo comic’s any indication… I’m actually kind of glad Cox was never able to film this one.

CREDITS

Writer, Alex Cox; artist, Chris Bones; colorist, Justin Randall; publisher, Gestalt Publishing.

Highland Laddie 4 (November 2010)

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Ennis backtracks on quite a bit here with Annie. It appears she was never really the good Christian superhero Ennis wrote her being. Instead, she’s always been aware she’s a corporate product and a successful one.

If he always meant to do this revelation, he sure didn’t write for it. There were a lot of times Annie had her own story arcs in the main series and things don’t fit anymore.

Besides her telling Hughie all about herself, there’s a little with the bad guys. Those scenes are kind of pointless, especially since Ennis is working on the flunkies being unreliable. The flunkies aren’t characters, so they give them a subplot all their own?

All of a sudden Highland Laddie has become a Boys arc. Not a bad thing to be, but very unfortunate since the series started out as something completely different.

The weak art continues to hurt it.

CREDITS

A Young Man’s Fancy; writer, Garth Ennis; artists, John McCrea and Keith Burns; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Prophet 36 (June 2013)

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So New John is just Newfather now. Very easy. Oh, and nice cameo again–Graham really seems to enjoy the winks. He’s able to put them in and move right along. It helps Old John’s crew is so personable. Wouldn’t work without them.

There’s a little on Diehard’s crushing again this issue. Nothing ominous but it’s hard to say how it’ll work out. You can never guess with Prophet.

Graham now has Newfather set up his own crew. They’re not as personable–they are just clones after all–but he’s making the juxtaposing between the two Johns more similar in delivery while maintaining difference in texture. Very cool. They’re on the same mission too, so a meet-up is inevitable.

The Care backup is positively distressing this time. The art’s grossness hurts the strip big time. One fixates on the ick factor, not the delicate profoundness of the actual story.

CREDITS

Prophet; writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Roy, Giannis Milonogiannis, Matt Sheehan and Malachi Ward; colorists, Joseph Bergin III, Roy, Sheehan and Ward; letterer, Ed Brisson. Care, Part Three; writers, artists and colorists, Sheean and Ward. Publisher, Image Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 108 (July 2007)

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And here’s a Bendis misstep. Most of the issue’s spent in Moon Knight’s head–there’s nothing about Iron Fist selling out, because Bendis has found a way to make Moon Knight bad.

Ultimate Ronin is a new personality of Ultimate Moon Knight–a bad guy. He beats up Kitty, he kidnaps Peter.

Problems abound. First, Mary Jane is now the seventies–as in, television–Lois Lane. She does a story about Flash (set two weeks after his attack) when Bendis already jumped further ahead than two weeks for the TV movie joke.

Maybe continuity reset a little after issue one hundred.

There’s a lot of avoiding. Kitty and Mary Jane almost have a scene, then Bendis avoids it. Aunt May never gets a mention, Iron Fist never gets a mention.

He’s dragging things out, which doesn’t necessarily mean things are back to falling apart, but it’s not a good sign.

CREDITS

Ultimate Knights, Part Three; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril 2 (October 2013)

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Whew, it’s a six issue series, not four. I was wondering what the heck Hogan at the end of the issue if he only had four. It’s a good enough issue–Tom and Val get to Terra Obscura, find it decimated by plague (or something) and hang out with a couple of the world’s science heroes–but it’s all just nicely done exposition.

But Hogan’s got six issues so he’s got plenty of time.

Hogan’s got a lot of amusing dialogue and a lot of touching dialogue. He could be foreshadowing big revelations to come later on with the guest stars this issue, he also might just be using them as the best vehicles for the exposition. It never feels forced, which is nice.

There’s also some lovely art from Sprouse and Story. They do plague decimated New York City something special, but the quiet stuff’s great too.

Still Strong.

B+ 

CREDITS

Masks and the Red Death; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Jessica Chen, Kristy Quinn, Ben Abernathy and Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

Highland Laddie 3 (October 2010)

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Another excellent issue, save the art. When Annie shows up at the end, I didn’t even recognize her. I thought for a minute Ennis was bringing in one of Hughie’s childhood crushes.

Otherwise, like I said, excellent. Even with the flashes to Boys events, the series feels completely removed from it. If Highland Laddie does actually exit Hughie from the main series, it’d be kind of perfect. Ennis built up a character in a fantastical world, only to send him off into reality.

But I doubt Hughie’s going anywhere.

There are a couple really nice flashback scenes, if occasionally disgusting. Ennis does try a little hard to show Hughie’s awareness at his demeanor and what he blames for that situation; the nice relationships with friends and family make up for the obviousness though.

It’s a shame Ennis doesn’t have a better artist. McCrea doesn’t begin to convey the script’s depth.

CREDITS

Beware the Jabberwock, My Son; writer, Garth Ennis; artists, John McCrea and Keith Burns; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Prophet 35 (May 2013)

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Graham has seemingly hit a lull issue. Not a bad issue, but definitely some kind of a bridging one. It’s always hard to say with Prophet, since Graham and his collaborators often do something unexpected.

He splits the issue between Old John and New John. Old John is traveling to meet The Troll, a warlord of some kind apparently, who occupies a moon of Mars. There’s some great stuff with his crew, some oddly touching moments and some funny ones. Very grand scale sci-fi stuff.

New John, on the other hand, should have grand scale too–he’s part of an attack to defeat these aliens who Graham leaves obscure–but Milonogiannis never amps up the huge battle. There are establishing shots, some quick interludes, some expository help, but it feels oddly small. Even though it’s obviously huge.

The Care backup continues to be weird. Better this issue than last.

CREDITS

Prophet; writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artist, Giannis Milonogiannis; colorist, Joseph Bergin III; letterer, Ed Brisson. Care, Part Two; writers, artists and colorists, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward. Publisher, Image Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 107 (May 2007)

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Wow, Ultimate Iron Fist isn’t going to get his own series if he’s buddying up to Kingpin. Jeez.

Bendis splits the issue, mostly, between Peter and Kitty having a breakup conversation–actually, a post-breakup conversation–and Spider-Man talking Daredevil down from the idea of killing Kingpin. Maybe for the first time ever, Ultimate Daredevil works as a character. Because it’s interesting to see him brought down, intellectually, by Peter.

The scene with Kitty is good too. Bendis’s reasoning for her being at Midtown is idiotically contrived, but even he seems to know it. And having Ultimate Jessica Jones show up is kind of funny.

There are a few more scenes–Kitty in class, Mary Jane and Peter, Peter at the hospital–and Bendis is on for each of them. It’s still a little too soon to say, but he definitely seems engaged in the series again.

It’s good.

CREDITS

Ultimate Knights, Part Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Half Past Danger 4 (August 2013)

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Big surprise this issue. Mooney’s apparently real good at not painfully foreshadowing.

This issue is exactly how an all action comic should be done. Mooney keeps up a brisk pace and his panel compositions are complicated and sometimes breathtaking. He clearly wanted to do complex action set pieces and figured out how to best convey them. I’ve never been so fulfilled by a comic I spent so little time reading. Maybe because I can go back and appreciate his art pacing.

There’s also the matter of the good guys team structure. The scenes where the guys all fight against the Nazis together have a wonderful flow. It feels like they’ve gotten to know each other, which may be why Mooney spent the time developing their relationships. Makes the action work better.

Great ending too. Not a lot of surprises, but great cliffhanger thrills.

Danger is one heck of a comic.

CREDITS

Curiouser and Curiouser!; writer and artist, Stephen Mooney; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; editors, Christopher Schraff and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Highland Laddie 2 (September 2010)

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No doubt about it, Ennis is having a good time on Highland Laddie. The most fun is trying to remove all the superhero stuff from it mentally; the story works just as well. Makes one wonder what the main series would be like if Ennis started with characters and story and added all the superhero nonsense to it later.

This issue’s a lot of talking heads, which McCrea and Burns don’t do a particularly good job of illustrating, but the dialogue is all so strong it doesn’t matter. Hughie makes a new friend, hangs out with his old friends, has some flashbacks. The flashbacks are awesome–particularly the revelation of young Hughie the detective.

There’s also the big subplot, involving drugs (and superheroes, sort of). Ennis uses it to give the story some danger. Otherwise the biggest concern is Hughie discovering he doesn’t really like his childhood friends while sober.

CREDITS

Great Glass Elevator; writer, Garth Ennis; artists, John McCrea and Keith Burns; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Prophet 34 (February 2013)

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It’s another excellent issue. Whatever Graham’s got planned for Prophet, he’s also figured out a way to draw it out but never get boring.

This issue, featuring some great art from Roy, does establish a little more with the New Father John Prophet–he’s the one from the first few issues of the relaunch; seems like he’s been gone for a while and even though he’s sort of a bad guy, it’s nice having him back.

Anyway, what Graham and Roy do here is move him along baby steps but do so in a way to show all the variations of the John Prophet clone. Not all the Johns appear human, not all are equal, some are quiet alien. It’s wacky and wonderful.

The backup, from Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward, disappoints a little. It starts really cool but then turns out to be a Logan’s Run knockoff or something.

CREDITS

Prophet; writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artist, Roy; colorist, Joseph Bergin III; letterer, Ed Brisson. Care, Part One; writers, artists and colorists, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward. Publisher, Image Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 106 (May 2007)

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Lots happens this issue. I guess crossing the hundred issue mark, Bendis has decided he needs lots of guest stars. Hulk for a panel, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four… Peter’s entering into the much bigger Ultimate Universe. Only about a ninety-eight issues later than the original did into the Marvel Universe.

Anyway.

It’s an okay issue. Bendis is very comfortable having Mary Jane back and without an agenda. He seems to have but Kitty Pryde into that awkward role–I can’t wait for the contrived reason she’s going to Midtown High. And Matt Murdock showing up at the school a few minutes earlier is lame too. There’s got to be a better way to bring him in to talk to Peter.

But the scenes at the Bugle and the one with Aunt May make up for the problems. The Fantastic Four scene is great too.

The series feels surprisingly rejuvenated.

CREDITS

Ultimate Knights, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek 18 (February 2013)

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What a truly awful comic book. Ryan Parrott takes over for regular writer Mike Johnson–really hope it’s just for this issue and not forever–and does the secret origin of Uhura.

There’s something to be said about how the new Star Trek promotes Uhura to the big three and downgrades Bones, but now’s not the time or place (and it’s not Parrott’s fault anyway). But her big moment? It’s actually not asking out Spock, which would have been more amusing, but saving her parents from disaster.

So what? It’s not really a defining moment for young Uhura. In fact, as her uncle (who talks her through the rescue–over the communicator because she’s a communications officer) points out, she’s just using her pre-existing skills. It’s pointless.

Parrott’s dialogue is so atrocious I didn’t even notice if Balboni’s pencils. They’re probably a little better than usual… but still bad.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Parrott; penciller, Claudia Balboni; inker, Erica Durante; colorist, Claudia SGC; letterer, Shawn Lee; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Half Past Danger 3 (July 2013)

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Mooney gets a little rushed on a few pages. He brings it all together for the big finale though–how has no one thought of ninjas versus Nazis before? You’d think it would be its own genre.

There’s not a lot of action until the finish, just a lot of drinking. Noble–the superman–and Flynn get drunk before their mission and Noble reveals the super-soldier story. It’s more realistic than I expected, but Mooney plays the heart strings a little much. He starts the scene with it being about camaraderie, which works, then turns it into a sad story, which doesn’t.

There’s a very amusing punch line involving the British agent. Otherwise, though, Mooney doesn’t develop her character at all this issue.

The dinosaurs and good guys attacking Nazis stuff at the end is awesome. Mooney awkwardly loses track of the ninja, but the energy keeps things going.

CREDITS

Something Wicked This Way Comes; writer and artist, Stephen Mooney; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; editors, Christopher Schraff and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Highland Laddie 1 (August 2010)

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If it weren’t for the art from John McCrea and Keith Burns, Highland Laddie–the first issue anyway–would be the best Boys in a year or so. Even with it, the issue shows off Ennis’s actual writing abilities, not how many jokes he can make about superheroes.

Hughie goes back home to Scotland, reuniting with his mother and father and his mates. Ennis doesn’t exactly give a look into what Hughie was like before The Boys, but he definitely is setting up a place where Hughie can take the lead.

There’s some humor, but Ennis plays it more for a smile than an actual laugh. He’s taking his time and having fun.

Unfortunately, the art’s a mess. It’s too rushed, which is especially obvious when Burns gives up on even inking in eyeballs. One panel the characters have them, the next it’s Bill Watterson.

Ennis’s script makes it work.

CREDITS

The Harbour at the World’s End; writer, Garth Ennis; artists, John McCrea and Keith Burns; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Prophet 33 (January 2013)

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Awesome issue, just awesome. Graham ends it with this awkward silence–he only hints at the big events going on–with a focus on Old Man John Prophet’s reaction. Milog does a beautiful job on the art for these pages too.

A lot of the issue is spent with the crew in this strange hive mind fleet. Hive suggests bugs but there are no bugs. It’s all ethereal and beautiful, some kind of Amazonian space fleet. There’s an unexpected cameo too. Graham integrates it beautifully.

He also has a lot of humor. There’s a wonderful running joke about Rein-East and her discarded biological mass. Graham doesn’t do a lot of the detail callouts–he does a few–but something about the pacing of Rein-East’s biological mass reminds of them. It’s matter of fact, but hilarious.

The backup, from Sloane Leong, is rather impressive. Poetic, visceral stuff.

Fantastic issue.

CREDITS

Prophet; writers, Brandon Graham, Giannis Milonogiannis and Simon Roy; artist, Milonogiannis; colorist, Joseph Bergin III; letterer, Ed Brisson. Backup story; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Sloane Leong. Publisher, Image Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual 2 (October 2006)

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Why doesn’t Ultimate Punisher just kill Ultimate Kingpin? I’m so confused. I’m additionally confused over Ultimate Daredevil. He’s just rude? Is there any other difference between him and regular Daredevil?

Mark Brooks is the wrong penciller for this comic, just dreadfully wrong. Bendis is doing–as much as he can in Ultimate Spider-Man–a serious superhero crime book and Brooks draws everything like a cartoon. Maybe it’d work if he were better and his style directly engaged the material and the contraction, but he isn’t better and it doesn’t work.

There’s not a lot going on besides Bendis’s plot construction. He shows the four guys coming together, the villain, the dirty cop. It’s actually the Ultimate version of a famous Spider-Man story but without any of the gravitas. Brooks’s art is incapable of gravitas I’m pretty sure.

The issue reads pretty well, I suppose, but it’s completely disposable.

CREDITS

The Death of Captain Jeanne DeWolfe; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Brooks; inker, Jaime Mendoza, Mark Morales, Victor Olazaba and Brooks; colorists, Laura Martin and Larry Molinar; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Half Past Danger 2 (June 2013)

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Not only does Mooney up the ante with a ninja, he gives him a camouflage outfit out of “G.I. Joe.” It’s strange but cool, just like all of Half Past Danger.

Of course, he also implies the big blond captain guy is a super soldier. Not sure what else Mooney could possibly add–the British secret agent woman is the only one without some great reveal so far. And the lead’s just an Irish Indiana Jones as a soldier, but it works fine.

There’s a lot more with the dinosaurs, a lot more with the expedition to the island–it’s interesting how Mooney lifts whole sections of Jurassic Park without raising any eyebrows. Lines and everything. Then there’s a great double reference to Aliens.

The comic’s just a good mix. Mooney throws in a lot of safe, reliable ingredients, but it coming out so well is Mooney’s success.

B 

CREDITS

In Like Flynn; writer and artist, Stephen Mooney; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; editors, Christopher Schraff and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

2000 AD 17 (18 June 1977)

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This issue has some strange turns. Mostly when Flesh all of a sudden become about dinosaurs teleporting to the future and having Fly-like effects with the guys’ heads ending on a dinosaur. It’s the cliffhanger and it’s dumb, but Gosnell writes a decent enough story before it.

Invasion is a little weird too. Finley-Day plots the opening somewhat backwards, leading to a confusing story.

Gibbons has some good panels and some really bad ones on Harlem Heroes. The bad ones outweigh the good, unfortunately.

And Moore doesn’t have much going on with Dan Dare. It’s basically a bridging story–but all action. It’s not good. And Belardinelli can’t decide on Dare’s hair.

Allen and Redondo do an almost incomprehensible skiing M.A.C.H. 1. The art’s good, but confusing.

Wager and Gibson play Dredd mostly for laughs. There’s a big fight, where Gibson fails; luckily, he does the comedy well.

CREDITS

Invasion, Slaves; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Mike Dorey; letterer, John Aldrich. Flesh, Book One, Part Seventeen; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Felix Carrion; letterer, Tony Jacob. Harlem Heroes, Part Seventeen; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Hollow World, Part Six; writer, Steve Moore; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Peter Knight. M.A.C.H. 1, Spotbox; writer, Nick Allen; artist, Jesus Redondo; letterer, Knight. Judge Dredd, Robot Wars, Part Eight; writer, John Wagner; artist, Ian Gibson; letterer, Knight. Editor, Gosnell; publisher, IPC.

Prophet 32 (January 2013)

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I always except Prophet to do something completely weird with its narrative. Simon Roy tells the tale of a female Prophet–still John, of course–and her adventures on a planet where the human populace has devolved.

There’s a lot of action, a little exploration, some of the regular Prophet grossness with nature, and then Roy gets to the unexpected conclusion.

It’s unexpected because Roy makes a bunch of judgements about the rest of the series so far. He shows things from the other side–there’s a lovely page where he juxtaposes panels showings the devolved humans on the planet and the female John’s childhood–and it gives an unexpected perspective.

Prophet is full of wonders–gross and not–and Roy takes the time to show the side effects. All while doing awesome sci-fi too.

Really fun backup from Daniel Irizarri. It’s fast-paced, consistently funny, rather nice artwork.

CREDITS

Prophet; writer, artist and colorist, Simon Roy; letterer, Ed Brisson. Greetings From Verde Luz; writers and colorists, Daniel Irizarri and Andrea Pecinkas; artist and letterer, Irizarri. Publisher, Image Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 105 (April 2007)

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And there we have it. A somewhat new ground situation–Aunt May knows Peter’s Spider-Man, he’s living with Mary Jane, Kitty Pryde is mad–not much else though.

There’s nothing on Doc Ock, there’s nothing on the U.S. government hiring bad guys to genetically engineer clones and kill teenagers, there’s nothing on… something else, I’m sure. I sort of forgot.

Oh, Nick Fury’s a big sweetheart it turns out. He’s not tough enough to use Captain America and Iron Man on the bad FBI guys, only threaten the Fantastic Four with them. But he’s a pushover and a stooge now.

The Jessica Drew thing is mildly interesting. Bendis seems to realize she’s the best character to come out of this arc, just because it’s very strange and he has good observations with her.

Still, it’s unfortunate Bendis had to write so many bad comics for so little change.

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Epilogue; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek 17 (February 2013)

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The Bones McCoy origin issue. Not sure if Johnson doing origin issues is such a good idea after this one.

Definitely not if the art team of Claudia Balboni and Erica Durante continues. It’s sometimes a little amazing the artists IDW gets for Star Trek. It’s one of the oldest licensed properties out there and they get these not ready for prime time players on it.

In other words, the art is bad. So bad one occasionally pauses to bewilder at the terrible faces, especially on poor Bones McCoy.

Johnson–he brought an M.D. relation along as cowriter, though there’s almost no medicine discussed, only shown in montage–doesn’t have a story for Bones. I thought it was going to be about his father dying. Nope, it’s about what made him join Starfleet. It’s not convincing.

The writing’s not bad, just misguided and pointless. The art is bad though.

CREDITS

Writers, Mike Johnson and F. Leonard Johnson; penciller, Claudia Balboni; inker, Erica Durante; colorist, Claudia SGC; letterer, Chris Mowry; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Half Past Danger 1 (May 2013)

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I’m really impressed. I’d never even heard of Stephen Mooney before Half Past Danger–I hadn’t heard of him so much I thought the names were separate (based on the cover credit). I’m shocked to see it’s just one guy doing this comic and one I haven’t heard of.

Danger is highly derivative. Little Sgt. Rock, little League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, little Jurassic Park. G.I.s versus dinosaurs. It works. Mooney makes it work. His art style is perfect for the kind of period piece he’s doing and he also goes out of his way to keep it unexpected.

He opens the issue with this sergeant being the topic of his men’s conversation, switches focus to said sergeant, then makes the encounter with the Jurassic tyrannosaur so crazy he’s keeping everyone in danger, even the “safe” characters.

The finale, set in 1940s New York City, is just fantastic stuff.

Danger’s great.

CREDITS

Bite the Bullet; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Stephen Mooney; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 13 (January 1984)

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What a difference a penciller makes… Ricardo Villamonte really doesn’t cut it. Indy’s always got a befuddled look.

Still, Villamonte isn’t responsible for the lame story. Michelinie send Indy out west on a field trip from the university. He and his students are on a dig, he runs awful bad guys. The plot contrivances are lame for even a done-in-one licensed comic; Michelinie wastes all his opportunities.

Michelinie opens with Indy’s female students talking about him being cute. One might think the issue would explore his professional life… But, no, it turns into this boring desert investigation thing with a truly silly explanation.

The comic actually shows the most life when Indy’s on the phone talking with the regular cast. Michelinie tried something new and it clearly didn’t work so much he had to remind the reader it’s not the norm.

It’s too bad, he usually does fine.

CREDITS

Deadly Rock!; writers, Archie Goodwin and David Michelinie; penciller, Ricardo Villamonte; inker, Sam de la Rosa; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 104 (March 2007)

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Good thing the X-Men don’t have a fast jet because they might get there in time to see Peter and Mary Jane get their romance back on. I really hope Bendis comes up with some better result to this lame arc than them reuniting.

There’s still Aunt May, there’s still an evil U.S. government out to get Nick Fury, there’s still Richard Parker.

Wait, no, there isn’t. Because Bendis wraps that one up nice and clean. Had he made it dirty and told the issue around it, he would have had a great comic. A singular one. Had he been willing to commit to the sensationalism for more than four issues, however, he would have put Ultimate Spider-Man somewhere entirely new.

Instead, he promises a return to the norm. With some changes, but definitely a return to the norm.

It’s unfortunate; Bendis never lets the comic grow.

D 

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Part Eight; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inkers, Drew Hennessy and Matt Ryan; colorist, Andy Troy; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dream Thief 4 (August 2013)

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You know a comic is good when the writer can introduce an unbelievable amount of characters names in the first three pages and you still love it.

Maybe it’s just because Nitz did a poker issue. It’d be hard to mess up a good poker issue. The lead–I think his name’s John but it doesn’t really matter–ends up in a dead mobster and eventually heads to Graceland (yep) to play in a high stakes poker match.

Nitz goes through some of the games play by play. Smallwood doesn’t exactly have anything to do, but the scenes still come off beautifully. It was during the lengthy poker games I realized how great an issue they produced here. It’s the best Dream Thief, even if it has almost nothing to do with the overarching storyline.

The concept lends itself to episodic installments; it’s upsetting the series isn’t an ongoing one.

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist, colorist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Maze Agency 17 (December 1990)

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It’s a religious cult mystery, along with some teenage lovers–one being the daughter of Jennifer’s friend. Barr doesn’t pause on his contrivances (it’s not just the daughter, but also Gabe’s religious history), just moves full steam ahead.

Only the setting is terrible and the characters all act really dumb. Maybe not Gabe and Jennifer, but the daughter gets busted running around with her boyfriend and her parents stay in the woods, which causes the rest of the issue’s events. It’s way too easy.

There’s a little character stuff between Gabe and Jennifer, only their romance has become boring. Barr doesn’t seem to have any long-term plots for them anymore. They’re boring.

Darick Robertson–a young Darick Robertson–does the art. He’s got ambitious panel composition, but no level of detail. With better art, the issue might pass easier, but it’s still not much good.

Maze’s on the skids.

CREDITS

Terrible Swift Sword; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Darick Robertson; inkers, Jim Sinclair and Keith Aiken; colorist, Susan Glod; letterer, Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

Hawkeye 12 (September 2013)

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Wait, didn’t the dog go the California? Last time I suggested Fraction should release a guide to understanding his plotting for Hawkeye but at this point I think the word is “needs.” It’s all so confusing.

Clint’s brother shows up and gets into a fight with the gangsters. Now, this fight ties into at least the last issue but maybe one or two before that one.

Most of the issue is just Barney–Clint’s brother–flashing back to their childhood while he tries to get money to get drunk. He also kicks some butt–including in scenes Fraction previously implied were Clint (I think).

It’s a really good issue. Fraction has figured out how to do the Brubaker done-in-one issue with a side character, even if he does try way too hard to tie it in.

Francavilla does quite well on the art, especially on the childhood flashbacks.

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Tom Brennan and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 103 (February 2007)

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Yep, Bendis turns out rather predictable. Especially with Richard Parker.

The stuff with the X-Men is lame too, especially since they have a teleporting guy and a really fast plane. Instead, Bendis just does it to show he’s not entirely contriving this story, which is a complete cop out.

Speaking of cop outs, he also turns Nick Fury into an absolute stooge. As in Larry, Moe or Curly. In the span of a few issues, he’s turned Aunt May into a heinous bitch and Nick Fury into a buffoon.

I get a lot of what he’s trying to do and why–one can see Bendis is pushing the series to a new situation–but he’s forcing it every step of the way. Especially since he never establishes a good timeline for the events he tells in flashback.

It’s probably worse than the nineties “The Clone Saga.” It’s painfully goofy.

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Part Seven; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek 16 (December 2012)

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Eh. You know, Johnson tries really hard sometimes and he ends up forgetting things. For example, doing the mirror universe version of the new Star Trek movie, he manages to lose sight of his best possible story threads.

Old Spock arrives–only he’s regular old Spock not old mirror Spock. Johnson refuses to play too much and sticks to having a good guy somewhere in this issue. Only the comic doesn’t need a good guy, it needs good twists.

Additionally, seeing as how it’s an imaginary tale, there’s no reason the twists couldn’t be outrageous. Johnson’s just too focused on doing a tight issue–there are no creative clips. It’s unfortunate.

The evil Kirk is a lot of fun, even if he’s too dumb to have ever made first officer. Johnson does a lot better with the comic when he’s in the spotlight.

Johnson’s Spock mishandling pretty much kills it.

CREDITS

Mirrored, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artists, Erfan Fajar, Hendri Prasetyo and Miralti Firmansyah; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Tuwono; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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