Satellite Sam 2 (August 2013)

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What an action-packed issue. Not really. It’s all about drinking and television politics in the fifties and it’s amazing.

Fraction has a huge cast but he doesn’t exactly bother with names, using their positions instead. The producer, the head writer, the star. Their names don’t matter. Even the church lady is just the church lady.

Behind the scenes television machinations are the A plot. Fraction saves all the drama for the B plot. Except the B plot is really short, mostly just for the cliffhanger. It’s not a bad plotting decision from Fraction–the B plot is sensational one; it’s a far better hook than something going wrong with a television deal.

The comic’s incredibly dense due to the many characters–it’s a talking heads book, which Fraction and Chaykin hide through different locations and the generally fine art. Fraction’s ability to manage it all is his greatest achievement.

CREDITS

The Dirt Nap; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 11 (November 1983)

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It’s another great plot from Michelinie. He writes some decent exposition too. His dialogue is inconsistent though. For whatever reason he can’t write Indy’s dialogue. Everyone else’s is fine though. Very strange. I think it has to do with him writing Indy as a tough guy first, smart guy second.

The issue has Indy sort of taking a second job as a treasure hunter for a mysterious rich guy. This guy’s band of Arab ninjas (Michelinie’s description) gets Indy out of a jam in the opening. The rich guy then appears to pitch Indy the job–finding the fourth nail from Christ’s cross.

It’s all compelling–it feels very grand–and there are some excellent moments. Michelinie implies subplots without expanding on them, which is interesting–or forgetful.

The Gammill pencils are rather nice too.

Problems aside, the comic has lots of charm and technical qualities. Not bad at all.

CREDITS

The Fourth Nail, Chapter One: Blood and Sand!; writer, David Michelinie; penciller, Kerry Gammill; inker, Sam de la Rosa; colorist, Julianna Ferriter; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Fatale 13 (March 2013)

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I’m not sure if Brubaker’s intentionally doing homage or you just can’t do a Western anymore but this issue nods nicely to both John Ford and Unforgiven.

Once again, it’s a new protagonist, a woman in the Old West with the same affliction as Jo. Bonnie, I think. Brubaker summarizes her early life then shows her big adventure, if something so traumatic can be an adventure, where she finds out a little about herself.

Along the way she meets up with a Native American outlaw and a professor of the occult–not at an accredited institution, of course.

Phillips drawing a Western is awesome, as is Brubaker writing one. They ought to try one without the Cthulhu stuff. Just a good Western.

The end has a little surprise. Brubaker instead concentrates on the character development. He’s going to have a hard time maintaining this writing quality in multi-issue arcs.

CREDITS

Down the Darkest Trail; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 93 (June 2006)

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You know what isn’t a television show–specifically a reality television show? A comic book. Someone should have told Bendis because then I would have been saved this useless comic.

Deadpool and some bad guys are hunting the X-Men (and Peter) on this island and it’s all for TV. So Bendis is cutting between the host, the bad guys, the hidden cameras, with Bagley doing all double page layouts with little TV-sized boxes.

It’s probably the most writing, in terms of dialogue, Bendis has done in years on this comic. But it’s mostly crappy, because his approach is crappy. He can’t emulate the pacing and he has trouble getting in for character scenes; even his sincere stuff comes off plastic.

Oddly, not even the X-Men are the leads this issue–they’re barely in it. The TV host gets the spotlight.

It’s a complete misfire of a comic.

CREDITS

Deadpool, Part Three; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Danny Miki; colorist, Richard Isanove; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber, Nicole Boose and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek 12 (August 2012)

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The Tribbles storyline doesn’t have a particularly good conclusion. Not because of Johnson’s script. He does all right actually. The action moves from the Tribble planet–gives Uhura some Klingon to translate–back to the ship for the Tribbles on the Enterprise (but not like the original episode at all).

Scotty gets a big sequence where he has to sort of save the day. There’s some decent relationship building with Kirk and Spock. Even McCoy gets a little moment. So what’s the problem?

Balboni can’t do talking heads. It looks like she’s tracing publicity photos of the movie actors for her talking heads scenes. It’s just terrible, terrible stuff. But the photo-referencing isn’t the only problem–the action on the ship is lame. She doesn’t draw the Enterprise interiors well.

This series sometimes skirts by on gimmick. This issue it doesn’t. It comes close, but Balboni’s art sinks it.

CREDITS

The Truth About Tribbles, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Claudia Balboni; colorist, Arianna Florean; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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