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.

Brother Lono 2 (September 2013)

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Okay, Azzarello sort of sets up the series here. He’s going split it between Lono, June the new nun and the assistant to the drug lords. I don’t think there’s anything else.

There’s quite a bit about the drug lords, which isn’t particularly interesting. The scenes are all expository. There are no slips of anything deeper or better.

The opening scene with the nun and Lono is really good, then she later talks to the priest. It’s good too. Hopefully Azzarello’s got something good planned for her in this series.

But the Lono stuff is a problem. He runs off to town to drink at the bar–he, the nun and the priest all lie at an orphanage–and Azzarello starts this terrible, first person narration. It’s shockingly bad, especially since nothing else in the issue is as poorly written.

It’s a decent enough issue, just a lot of problems.

CREDITS

!Tu Pasado te Matara!; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, Eduardo Risso; colorist, Trish Mulvihill; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

The Superior Spider-Man 16 (October 2013)

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I really don’t like the whole Goblin Army thing. It’s a little much, to say the least. Slott plays it tongue in cheek–which Ramos’s pencils just encourage–and it feels silly instead of scary. It’s like a Joker thing out of Batman, only repurposed for Spider-Man.

Otherwise, the issue’s got some decent moments in it. Slott’s back to not developing Otto at all. It’s an action issue and the Daily Bugle staff gets some good play time. Robbie Robertson might actually be the most formidable opponent Otto’s had so far.

There’s also some odd stuff–Slott being fast and loose with his characters morales–where the annoying cop girl who suspects Otto hacks into a person’s bank account while her superhero sidekick is actually assaulting said person. Who’s totally innocent of any crime. I hoped Slott would get the disconnect, but he doesn’t. Shame.

Still reads well, anyway.

CREDITS

Writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazaba; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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