2000 AD 22 (23 July 1977)

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Odd, odd issue. Lots of too long stories and too short ones.

Invasion and Shako are both way too short. Invasion is dumb and–inexplicably–for laughs. Shako is dumb and serious; at least it has good art from Arancio, who’d have been better served just doing wildlife studies.

Bad Harlem Heroes. Bad Dan Dare. Dare reads really, really long. For that matter, so does M.A.C.H. 1. Dare is just more nonsense with Dare versus the Mekon, who isn’t actually very smart, but M.A.C.H. is this really complicated story about the machine man proving himself in the Middle East. Writer Nick Allen relies a whole lot on the computer talking to the protagonist, which flops.

But not even Dredd works out until the end. Writer John Wagner takes a while to get going. Ian Gibson’s art is good throughout and the story ends well, but the beginning’s weak.

Weird issue.

CREDITS

Invasion, Cheddar Gorge; writer, Nick Allen; artist, John Cooper; letterer, Jack Potter. Shako, Part Three; writers, Pat Mills and John Wagner; artist, Arancio; letterer, Potter. Harlem Heroes, Part Twenty-two; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Hollow World, Part Eleven; writer, Steve Moore; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, John Aldrich. M.A.C.H. 1, Arab Story; writer, Allen; artist, Cooper; letterer, Potter. Judge Dredd, Mr Buzzz; writer, Wagner; artist, Ian Gibson; letterer, Peter Knight. Editor, Kelvin Gosnell; publisher, IPC.

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual 3 (December 2008)

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I’m not sure how I feel about David Lafuente’s art. He seems to let the colorist do a lot of the work when it comes to faces. Not sure I’m comfortable seeing that level of brevity from an artist in a Marvel comic.

Not sure at all.

Half the issue is Ultimate Mysterio, who kind of stinks. Bendis is just throwing him in here; there’s nothing to him yet and probably won’t be. He’s got a cloud for a head, which means no jokes from Peter about the fish bowl. Makes me sad.

The other half is Peter and Mary Jane angst. Are they or aren’t they ready for sex. They aren’t, it turns out, because they’re teenagers and Marvel wouldn’t want to be on the news for promoting premarital teenage sex. Sadly, that whole plot line feels like a MacGuffin.

But so does Mysterio. So double MacGuffin. So… what?

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist, David Lafuente; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek 25 (September 2013)

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There are too many dang people in the main Enterprise cast. Johnson just added Sulu’s sister as a love interest for Chekhov. Why does Chekhov need a love interest? No idea. Johnson’s not doing anything with Carol Marcus and Kirk–probably doesn’t want to step on future movie toes–but come on… When does Scotty get a girlfriend?

The issue opens with a reference to Star Trek VI, which sadly might be the best thing about the issue. Johnson is able to tell original series adaptations–though this arc is apparently more a sequel to Into Darkness–with material established later. Though he could easily go overboard with that practice. Ignore that comment–I’m cringing at the thought of Spock versus the Borg.

Fajar’s art is really bad this time out. If Star Trek isn’t selling enough to pay for a good artist, maybe IDW should just drop it.

CREDITS

The Khitomer Conflict, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Sex Criminals 1 (September 2013)

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Sex Criminals is about a young woman whose orgasms cause her to enter some sort of time-slowed state where, or so the very soft cliffhanger implies, she commits crime with her boyfriend, who has the same power.

I’m more curious if Matt Fraction was implying she doesn’t have a college education. There was a scene with her and the guy talking and it left that impression. She reads all the books an American lit major would read. The literary references are Criminals’s weakest point, Fraction’s trying too hard.

He does a lot of nice moves through the narrative, with the protagonist telling her story and it jumping back, forward, back, forward. It flows nicely. It’s just kind of shallow. So far, Fraction only has the MacGuffin. Who cares if the protagonist wants to save her public library from the evil local bank?

Chip Zdarsky’s art’s a perfect fit though.

CREDITS

Suzie Down in the Quiet; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Chip Zdarsky; colorist, Becka Kinzie; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

The Wake 4 (November 2013)

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I’m having a hard time believing it but Snyder is actually getting worse. Oh, there are less characters so the dialogue is a little better, but his ideas are dropping even faster in creativity. If it weren’t for Murphy’s style, I’d think The Wake is supposed to be a joke. Some camp-fest to laugh at all the crazy stuff Snyder can rip off from other places.

I did forgot the really, really terrible scene with the lead character lady talking about her son and how she won’t die unless she gets him HDMI cables first. I can’t believe this comic book has an editor. Not one who can read anyway.

There’s a lot of action, none of it particularly good. For a series where Murphy is the only draw, this issue doesn’t utilize him well at all. Snyder’s script is too terribly paced.

The Wake‘s not improving at all.

CREDITS

Writer, Scott Snyder; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Fatale 17 (September 2013)

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Very different approach this issue, at least to the flashback. Jo is the center and everything revolves around her. Brubaker uses it to move the story smoothly; even the scenes she’s not in are about her. Only the flashback stuff can’t compare to the interlude with Nick on the run.

Brubaker brings back the Lovecraft writer references towards the end of the interlude, with the mysterious book coming back into play. Fatale is only a year and a half or so in and Brubaker has definitely established a deep mythology to the series. But the stuff with Nick and the guy on the run is great. There’s some occasionally iffy narration from Nick, but it’s great.

The flashback, where Brubaker and Phillips go almost more for effect than story, can’t compare. It’s good, but Brubaker uses a lot of easy devices to get the results he wants.

Still, fine issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 4

It only took us three weeks for a new episode this time!

This episode, Vernon and I talk about new comic books, a little about “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, a little about “Villains Month” and quite about where we both fell off with Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man back when it was the book to read.

you can also subscribe on iTunes…

Predator 4 (March 1990)

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Street gangs versus the Predators. It’s actually a good battle scene. It takes up a good third of the issue; Verheiden definitely comes up with exiting visuals for the artists to realize.

The comic’s pretty lame though. Verheiden front loaded it with characters who disappear–the black police captain shows up again here; why’s he memorable? He’s black. It’s lazy writing and unbelievable.

The narration from the family man cop is pretty dang good though. Verheiden never gets into Schaefer’s head this issue and it works out. The family man has a lot better observations about the situation, far more emotionally charged.

There’s a fair amount of events in the issue, so it’s not a breezy read. It takes some time and has definite tension before the big battle scene.

I’m just trying to remember if anything else happens here. It’s build up, action, occasional good dialogue and no depth.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Verheiden; artists, Ron Randall and Chris Warner; colorist, Chris Chalenor; letterer, Jim Massara; editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 128 (January 2009)

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It’s funny how Immonen isn’t very good at fight scenes. It’s like he gets bored with them too fast. Venom versus Carnage, Super Venom, boring. Aunt May pulling a gun on Eddie Brock–awesome.

This issue finishes Bendis bringing Gwen Stacy back to life. Hopefully. She’s fine at the end of the issue, following an entirely unrealistic scene where Tony Stark is able to talk down Director Danvers.

Bendis also returns to Eddie on the park bench. Turns out it was in the future, kind of. Or the present of this issue, which doesn’t work with how the previous issue was set in the present too.

Like I said before, he should stick to his strengths. Aunt May having a gun for protection, strength. Competent multi-layered plotting… oh, come now, Bendis can’t even competently plot when he’s not working in flashbacks.

Hopefully he’ll get the series moving forward again.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril 3 (November 2013)

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Hogan continues his leisurely, pleasant pace. Tom Strong might be the one with his name in the title but Hogan’s really having fun doing his Terra Obscura sequel. He introduces the cast from that series again, going through all their changes. He has so much fun with their interplay, the whole plague thing is in the back burner.

There are some action scenes–Val, Tom’s son-in-law, spends the issue getting more and more aggravated, but Hogan’s clearly making him wait. Tom and Val are just explorers on this strange world. A strange world where Hogan and Sprouse have time to make a cute Watchmen reference too.

Anyway, the setting is an Egyptian encampment where two science heroes have become Egyptian gods reincarnated. It sounds weirder than it plays. Hogan and Sprouse do very well with the gradual storytelling.

Peril is so well executed, it doesn’t need forced thrills.

A- 

CREDITS

The New Egyptian Book of the Dead; 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.

Predator 3 (November 1989)

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So Schaefer gets kidnapped by a drug lord and has to break out. Meanwhile his partner is trying to let everyone know there’s an alien invasion coming. Lots of warships cloaked in Manhattan, you know… the norm.

Occasionally Verheiden will give Warner some awesome scene to draw–the Pam Am building being a meeting place for the aliens and the military–but a lot of the comic is the South American stuff. It’s a bridging issue is all and a four issue series shouldn’t need one.

Especially not since Verheiden contrives the whole thing with the drug lords. It would have been more natural if Schaefer had stumbled across them instead of being their nemesis.

The genial readability quality is going too. Verheiden has used up his good will. He’s stopped doing anything interesting and is now just trotting through a lame plot.

Hopefully the next (and last) issue’ll succeed.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Verheiden; artists, Ron Randall and Chris Warner; colorist, Chris Chalenor; letterer, Jim Massara; editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 127 (December 2008)

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Oh, come on, Bendis. If you can’t plot a full arc–even when you’re doing a bad one like this arc–don’t do a pad issue, just cut the number of issues down a little.

Here’s what happens this issue. Eddie threatens Peter in the present. He wants the suit back–now, let’s not forget Bendis opened this arc with Eddie having the suit and then got confused in his flashbacks. Peter tries to find Eddie and can’t. Gwen comes to see Peter because she’s got the Carnage face stuck on her body.

There’s the comic. Oh, and apparently Mary Jane isn’t reading for French kissing. Peter should have asked if she ever French kissed Harry, but he doesn’t.

It’s a shame Bendis can’t sustain this book for any length of time anymore. He gets better, then he falls off. Even the Immonen art is padded with artificial panel breaks.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Lauren Henry and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Planet of the Apes Giant 1 (September 2013)

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All you need for a last issue is apparently a sole survivor, a big event and a flash forward in time.

Gregory isn’t rewarding his long-time Apes readers with the Giant finale, he’s finishing the story before Boom!’s license runs out. And, for some of the issue, he doesn’t do too bad. That basic quality is why the awful finish is so offending.

He’s in a rush, he’s got a lot of characters, he’s got lots of excuses. But the resolution is as poorly conceived as his use of twentieth century sayings from the humans. Why would anyone have preserved them?

It’s hard to properly talk about the stupidity without spoiling things–and Gregory does at least follow an established Planet of the Apes standard, but it’s a stupid one and the reference is without enthusiasm.

Additionally, the ending is obvious. It’s like someone dictated an uncreative finish.

CREDITS

Writer, Daryl Gregory; artist, Diego Barreto; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Predator 2 (September/October 1989)

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So even though this Predator takes place in New York, Verheiden thinks it’s got room to go down to the jungle from the first movie. Oddly, it does. Oh, and I think he must have referred to the general by name in the last one because it’s all over the place here.

But, yeah, the pacing. Verheiden pretty much just skips between the two partners, with the family man cop’s narration being a lot more thoughtful. The Schaefer–that’s Arnie’s character’s brother–narration is more forced. Verheiden knows he needs some kind of exposition, goes with it.

There’s some neat time lapses to make things flow better and an excellent confrontation scene between Schaefer and his boss. It’s a shame the fight between Schaefer and the Predator at the end isn’t better. The scenes just before and just after are great, which makes for it.

Besides bad action, it’s good.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Verheiden; penciller, Chris Warner; inkers, Sam de la Rosa and Warner; colorist, Chris Chalenor; letterer, Jim Massara; editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 126 (November 2008)

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Why is Bendis making this story arc so confusing? It’s giving me a little headache.

So this issue ends with the Ultimates having the suit and Eddie Brock in the wind. It seems like Bendis has gotten to the present action of the the comic again. But he hasn’t, not unless he forgot about Eddie in the park eating people and telling the story in flashback. We’re still in Eddie’s flashback and Bendis seems to have forgotten.

The guy really should play to his strengths and complicated multi-layered narratives are not his strengths. Good scenes, fun dialogue, occasionally inventive Ultimate versions of characters, those are Bendis’s strengths.

Notice I’m not talking much about the issue’s contents? Because nothing happens except a fight scene and the followup. The followup is Nick Fury talking to Peter and Iron Man asking questions.

Still good Immonen art though. Shame Bendis isn’t matching it.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Lauren Henry and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Predator 1 (June 1989)

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Cops, gangs and a Predator… sounds like a movie. Oh, wait, it was a movie. Only Mark Verheiden’s Predator came before Predator 2, probably when they thought Schwarzenegger would play his own brother.

But Verheiden sets the story in New York, narrated by a tired detective with a crazy huge partner (the brother of Schwarzenegger’s character from the first movie). They investigate this weird gang war, which has the general from the movie hanging around (oddly unnamed so far), and get into it with their boss.

It feels a little like Robocop in terms of urban dystopia, but Verheiden does do a fair approximation of a decent cop show. The narrator is extremely likable and there are some great lines. Verheiden has his scene pacing down.

Chris Warner’s composition is better than the actual art. There are some interesting transitions between panels and some effective angles.

It’s totally fine stuff.

CREDITS

The Heat; writer, Mark Verheiden; penciller, Chris Warner; inkers, Sam de la Rosa and Randy Emberlin; colorist, Chris Chalenor; letterer, David Jackson; editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Bloodshot 11 (May 2013)

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I like the way Valiant–or Swierczynski in this case–is handling the Harbinger Wars crossover. He’s using this issue of Bloodshot to flush out the relevant scenes in the main book; it’s expensive if a reader buys all the issues, but it also means it doesn’t have to be expensive. Each piece of the puzzle isn’t integral to getting a story.

As for the story here? There’s not a lot. It’s an all-action issue, though Bloodshot is also arguing with the evil little boy who lives in his head and tells him what to do. The art from Kitson and Gaudiano is so downbeat, the scenes don’t even play goofy.

Speaking of the art, the savage action violence gets a lot of focus here. Swierczynski seems to go for the grossest scenes possible for Bloodshot and he’s regenerative powers.

There’s not much to the comic, but it’s fine.

CREDITS

Writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Barry Kitson; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano and Kitson; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Ultimate Spider-Man 125 (October 2008)

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I’ll bet the flying guy is Ben Reilly. Maybe. It’d make sense, at least in Ultimate Spider-Man.

Still not getting why Bendis thought he had a story here. Is it an adaptation of the video game or something else? I know the game’s in continuity so is it a sequel? An aside? Does it matter? No, it doesn’t, because Bendis never made Peter getting reattached to the black costume a thing when it obviously should have been a thing.

The whole approach can be filed under “dangers of complicated flashbacks”. It takes place better Kitty, which means before Harry came back, before Nick Fury disappears, but after Gwen died. I’m not reading it and remembering all the clues Bendis put into the series contemporaneously. Because he didn’t.

Even if Bendis didn’t forget he had to tie in to the game, it sure feels like it.

Pointless, but nice art.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Lauren Henry, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

2000 AD 21 (16 July 1977)

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It’s not the worst issue but there’s sure nothing to recommend it. Not even Dredd. Gerry Finley-Day writes both it and Invasion. Neither stand out except by not being as bad as the rest of the entries. Good twist at the end of Dredd though.

Oh, wait, Shako. It has some really nice art from Arancio. It’s beyond dumb–it’s the adventures of a mean-spirited, fugitive from the CIA polar bear–but it’s well drawn dumb.

Harlem Heroes and Dan Dare both stink in uninteresting ways. It almost seemed like Heroes was going to end, but then Tully finds a way to keep it going. Presumably forever. The main characters barely appear this story. I can’t even remember Dare.

M.A.C.H. 1 is a strange one; it’s not good, but the idea of the Probe character doing private investigation work isn’t a bad one. Carlos’s art isn’t terrible either.

CREDITS

Invasion, Sandringham; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Mike Dorey; letterer, Peter Knight. Shako, Part Two; writers, Pat Mills and John Wagner; artist, Arancio; letterer, Jack Potter. Harlem Heroes, Part Twenty-one; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Hollow World, Part Ten; writer, Steve Moore; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterers, Knight and Bill Nuttall. M.A.C.H. 1, Recluse; writer, Nick Allen; artist, Carlos; letterer, John Aldrich. Judge Dredd, The Solar Sniper; writer, Finley-Day; artist, Ron Turner; letterer, Potter. Editor, Kelvin Gosnell; publisher, IPC.

Ultimate Spider-Man 124 (September 2008)

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Wait a second, is the the arc Bendis wrote to tie into the “Ultimate Spider-Man” video game? I thought he delayed it for years and years and then finally did it.

He should have waited longer.

So, Eddie Brock is gone as a narrator now, which makes no sense. Eddie’s narration last issue was the present and this issue Bendis is kicking around two flashbacks. First with the Rhino and then Firefly? Or some guy in a Firefly-like suit; he doesn’t have a name yet.

In between fights, Peter–because he’s all of a sudden the lead with no transition–talks to Mary Jane, talks to Nick Fury. Only for exposition though, because it’s all flashback and Bendis doesn’t take any time to texture it. Probably because he forced this arc.

There’s some really nice art from Immonen, particularly during the Firefly chase, but the whole thing’s off.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Buzzkill 1 (September 2013)

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I kind of like Geoff Shaw’s art. He doesn’t do any action in the first issue of Buzzkill, just hints of it and a lot of talking, but I do kind of like it. It’s that hurried, lots of lines indie thing. It’s popular right now and would work a lot better if Donny Cates’s script had better pacing.

Buzzkill is about the gimmick. Imagine Superman gets his powers from drugs and alcohol. He has to be drunk or high to get them–and he’s got all the regular side effects of being drunk and high. So not much of a superpower, right?

The protagonist–Cates cutely hides his real name (and draws attention to his cuteness)–goes to an AA meeting. Of course he doesn’t tell them everything, so there’s a quick cut to non-action action from Shaw.

Cates’s script is lame, obvious, somewhat pretentious.

It’s bad stuff.

CREDITS

The Problem; writers, Mark Reznicek and Donny Cates; artist, Geoff Shaw; colorist, Lauren Affe; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Brother Lono 4 (November 2013)

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Azzarello continues what one might call a peculiar approach to Lono. Nothing big happens during the issue; there might be cliffhanger–this issue has a soft one–and there’s a possibly big followup to the previous issue’s cliffhanger at the beginning, but it’s very mild otherwise. It’s horrific, sure. There are drug lords doing terrible things to one another and to regular people (this issue it’s more the hint of terrible things), but it’s almost tranquil.

Azzarello introduces another new character, yet another bad guy, and sort of follows him around for the day. When he gets to town, when he meets with a drug lord, how he spends his evening. It’s all very, very calm.

There’s a texture to Lono, a relaxed pace. It’s hard to anticipate what’s going to happen–though Azzarello does bring in a thing from the first issue–because the events don’t matter.

Good stuff.

CREDITS

!El Monstruo Del Norte!; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, Eduardo Risso; colorist, Trish Mulvihill; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Sara Miller and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

Detective Comics 793 (June 2004)

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Gabrych spends about a fourth of the issue with Bruce describing the surgical procedure for a cesarean section delivery. Just before the delivery, there’s a long argument between Bruce and some Lady Macbeth crime lord. It’s different to be sure.

A little later, when Batman heads out to fight Mister Freeze, Leslie is shocked at the decision. It’s a slightly meta textual scene, with her stunned he’s all of a sudden going to bring supervillains into their real, tragic situation.

The fight scene is a fight scene–Gabrych has already done the issue’s biggest work–and the Woods art is definitely nice.

He closes off the story with Bruce and Leslie in a nice little scene together. Gabrych is trying to do something with the character.

The backup has some truly awful narration from writer Lieberman. It goes on and on and nothing happens, just setup for the next installment.

CREDITS

The Surrogate, Part Three: Deliverance; writer, Andersen Gabrych; penciller, Pete Woods; inker, Cam Smith; colorist, Jason Wright; editors, Michael Wright and Bob Schreck. The Tailor, Part Five; writer, A.J. Lieberman; penciller, Jean-Jacques Dzialowski; inker, Dan Green; colorist, Giulia Brusco; editor, Matt Idelson. Letterer, Clem Robins; publisher, DC Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 123 (August 2008)

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Oh, no, Bendis is going off the rails again. I thought last issue was a fluke, but now it’s a definite thing. This whole issue is Eddie Brock sitting at a park bench, telling people his story, then eating them.

Bendis is demure about the eating thing until the last panel.

Immonen does really good with the art, which makes me think maybe Bendis knew he could branch out more with him on the book but it’s a mistake. It removes Peter from being the center of the book and then you’ve just got Ultimate Spider-Man without its star.

Worse, Silver Sable is back again. Not one of Bendis’s better Ultimate creations. Not as annoying as last time, but only because Eddie’s narrating the thing.

I guess Bendis trying to making Eddie somewhat sympathetic, but he doesn’t at all. Not even with all the sad panels Immonen can muster.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Half Past Danger 5 (September 2013)

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About half the issue is a submarine adventure, which is very cool. Mooney sure does figure out how to work all sorts of genres into a comic about dinosaurs (there actually aren’t any dinosaurs visible in this issue).

And then there’s a big surprise at the end, which I wasn’t expecting–Mooney does really well hinting at one surprise, but not another.

Speaking of Mooney, the sad part is his art falls off towards the end. He gives it away during the submarine sequence. The art’s really simple; the sequence works, but there’s none of Mooney’s action pacing. At the end of the issue it just gets worse; it’d be distressing but the twists are so good it doesn’t matter too much.

I’m sure Mooney will end the series well, even if he’s rushing to finish it. Half Past Danger proves the kitchen sink approach is sometimes the right one.

CREDITS

Ours Is But to Do and Die; writer and artist, Stephen Mooney; colorists, Jordie Bellaire and Ruth Redond; editors, Christopher Schraff and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Superior Spider-Man 18 (November 2013)

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Well, it’s definitely better than last issue but it’s still one of Slott’s weaker efforts on Superior. He’s got a big time travel story and it’s boring; referring to Back to the Future in the issue’s story title and then delivering a bunch of plodding exposition. It’s like he’s promising something good next issue, not this one.

The opening fight between Otto and 2099 isn’t bad, except Otto’s megalomania stops him from actually understanding what’s going on. It comes up a lot throughout the issue, actually. If Otto would just listen, he’d be able to solve the problem.

Why Slott wastes four or five pages on Peter’s lab buddies is beyond me. Yes, it might tie things together later, but for now it’s even worse than the 2099 solo pages.

I knew it was a mediocre one when I was actually getting more interested in Stegman’s art than the story.

CREDITS

Smack to the Future; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Ryan Stegman; inker, Livesay; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dream Thief 5 (September 2013)

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Nitz and Smallwood do the improbable–they close off Dream Thief all right. It’s a difficult proposition because Nitz has been running the series episodically and he’s only got one issue to wrap everything up. Most of the previous issues have nothing to do with this one, except their subplots.

How does he do it? He sort of runs head first into it–and doesn’t give his protagonist (whose name is John, which is probably why I never remember it) any possession arc. He’s just got to explain himself and problem solve as he finds out there are more dream thieves than he thought.

Not a lot of questions get answered and the finish is way too quick, but it’s a satisfying conclusion. Smallwood’s art is oddly cheery in a lot of places.

It might help the issue ends with a promise of a second volume, which is welcome news.

CREDITS

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

Detective Comics 792 (May 2004)

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Less detection, more action. There’s even a sequence where Batman’s on a motorcycle driving across a bridge’s suspension cables. It’s a little much. Along with Mr. Freeze messing around with drug dealers, it seems like Gabrych and Woods are trying to bring some measure of realism to the comic. Not a lot, but a little.

It mostly works, though Gabrych then has the problem his flashbacks are more interesting than the present action. Young Bruce and Alfred visiting Leslie in Africa. Alfred has the hots for her, Bruce has to beat up guerillas. It’s a lot more compelling than Batman driving all over Gotham looking for clues.

The villains and their whole plot is too intentionally confusing and repetitive. Freeze’s little gang brings some pep but then the story hits the cliffhanger.

Still, some great parts.

The backup art’s Dzialowski again. Otherwise, it’s still terrible. Lieberman’s just a bad writer.

CREDITS

The Surrogate, Part Two: The Blinding; writer, Andersen Gabrych; penciller, Pete Woods; inker, Cam Smith; colorist, Jason Wright; editors, Michael Wright and Bob Schreck. The Tailor, Part Four; writer, A.J. Lieberman; penciller, Jean-Jacques Dzialowski; inker, Dan Green; colorist, Giulia Brusco; editor, Matt Idelson. Letterer, Clem Robins; publisher, DC Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 122 (July 2008)

513437

Bendis is really building up the Roxxon thing. Just on and on with Roxxon. I’m getting kind of sick of it. It’s his new Green Goblin.

Well, maybe not, but kind of close. It’s way too convenient to have this evil company out there. Bendis is a writer who gets lazy easy and it’s just another crutch.

Worse, he misses the best parts of this issue. The Shocker kidnaps Spider-Man and tortures him. Bendis sticks with the sad Shocker story and not with Mary Jane and Kitty teaming up to save Peter. Oh, he does get some scenes in with them, but Mary Jane disappears all of a sudden once Kitty takes over.

I guess Bendis is trying to do something different, with the sympathetic focus on the villain he’s been mocking for almost the entire series. It’s sort of successful, but not really. It just doesn’t work out.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Six-Gun Gorilla 4 (September 2013)

SixGunGorilla 04 rev

I’m totally confused but I still love this comic. I assume the confusion is intentional on Spurrier’s part. He has Blue talking to the gorilla and the gorilla not answering him, talking instead about unrelated things. It’s very strange, very dense.

The density is a little surprising as Spurrier opens with some expository dialogue explaining everything–almost–to the reader. There’s an explanation of the other world, there’s an explanation of how the humans got there–about the only time the gorilla does make sense is when he’s talking about the natives of the other dimension.

Sometimes it feels like Spurrier’s trying to comment on Blue’s place in the story as protagonist. He keeps arguing he’s on the hero’s journey, the gorilla keeps telling him he isn’t. It’s weird.

Spurrier makes nods to his subplots, especially for the cliffhanger, but he’s mostly just gloriously confusing the reader.

Still love it.

CREDITS

Deserve’s Got Nothin’ To Do With It; writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, Andre May; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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