The Maze Agency 22 (July 1991)

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Young Jason Pearson handles the pencils. He tries very hard to compose interesting panels, which he usually does, though often a few details get forgotten. He can’t draw hats, for example.

The mystery concerns a role-playing game company; Barr is trying really hard to make the book seem accessible. He also tones down the annoying romance between the leads. They’re still together, engaged even, but Barr plays them off other characters to great success.

The mystery itself gets fairly confusing; Barr takes a long time to introduce all the suspects and their motives. It’s kind of a messy way to set up the comic–I think it’s the first time he’s ever not had the suspects sorted out–but the issue definitely has a romantic comedy appeal. Barr’s finally got some idea how to use Gabe and Jennifer as a couple.

Mostly by removing focus from Gabe.

Whatever works.

CREDITS

Magic & Monsters–and Murder; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Jason Pearson; inker, Mike Witherby; colorist, Michelle Basil; letterer, Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation.

Harbinger 14 (July 2013)

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Dysart has an interesting solution for returning the title to its characters. He manages to do it rather cleanly too, extricating it from the Harbinger Wars crossover. Dysart also wrote that crossover and, while this issue isn’t exactly hostile to being a crossover issue, it definitely returns the focus to what the series is about.

It’s about the characters in this book–specifically about Faith and how her attitude binds the team together. Dysart takes his time revealing his structure; it reads like the expected crossover issue, then all of a sudden a narrator with personality shows up. Faith. In some ways, she’s actually the easiest character just because the others aren’t as developed or real–but Dysart always does amazing work with her. Just amazing. He sells it sentiment with her.

Sadly, the Evans and Hairsine art gets occasionally lazy. Especially when they’re drawing faces.

Otherwise, a fine issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; artists, Khari Evans and Trevor Hairsine; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Josh Johns and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 6 (December 2011)

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Ennis ends the series, his summing up of Butcher, with a quote from Unforgiven. He also includes a reference to himself in the comic, apparently when he was trying to get work at the superhero companies back in the eighties.

Anyway, ending on a quote from Unforgiven just shows how little Ennis cares about this comic. I knew he didn’t care when he totally skipped over a Boys version of Spider-Man, which would have been awesome… at least if Ennis had been doing it towards the beginning of the run, before he’d lost interest.

What’s so amazing about the quote–I had other complaints, but it really overshadows them–is how it forces a comparison between the work Ennis has done and the work the movie’s done. And Ennis hasn’t done any work.

It’s easily the lamest thing I’ve ever seen him do. It’s stunningly incompetent, desperate and unprofessional.

CREDITS

Everyone of You Sons of Bitches; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Darick Robertson; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Sex Criminals 2 (October 2013)

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Yawn. Why yawn? Because Fraction doesn’t have a story. He’s still explaining the Force. Sorry, the Quiet. In Sex Criminals, it’s the Quiet. It’s where our too cool leads go when they orgasm and then they do all sorts of stuff. Like rob banks or hangout at adult bookstores.

Fraction goes on and on with the guy’s life story and only gets up to him being like fifteen. None of it’s particularly interesting, but it’s all supposed to be very funny. And it might have been funny back in 1993 before Clerks, certainly before Superbad.

There’s also the situation with the female protagonist. She’s always making these little asides to the reader, but without forcing her personality on everyone, Fraction doesn’t realize she’s boring.

He’s got a concept, a cast and absolutely nowhere to go with it. Worse, the issue reads way too fast since he’s trying to hide stuff.

CREDITS

Come, World; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Chip Zdarsky; colorists, Christopher Sebela and Zdarsky; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Detective Comics 800 (January 2005)

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Gabrych writes and writes and writes and writes. His Batman narration goes on forever, hitting the same beats again and again. Batman’s alone–everyone left him, the cops hate him, it’s just like when he started out, only he’s older. On and on it goes. Gabrych got the job of summarizing all the “War Games” fallout. It’s a thankless task.

There’s a regular story too. Heroin has hit the streets again and Batman has to investigate. The investigation proves confusing because Gotham’s crime world has restructured, setting up Black Mask as the big villain. Gabrych sort of tells the issue in vignettes, but not enough. Batman keeps losing his train of thought.

The ending’s a little too weak, too forced. Gabrych tries to make Batman make sense and he can’t.

The backup is a depressing bit from David Lapham. It’s mean and nasty and rather well-done, if entirely unpleasant.

CREDITS

Alone At Night; writer, Andersen Gabrych; penciller, Pete Woods; inkers, Cam Smith and Drew Geraci. In the Dark; writer and artist, David Lapham. Colorist, Jason Wright; letterer, Phil Balsman; editors, Michael Wright and Bob Schreck; publisher, DC Comics.

Harbinger Wars 4 (July 2013)

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Dysart brings Harbinger Wars into the station and it’s entirely unclear why they bothered with the trip at all. Besides–apparently–cutting down on cast members, the crossover event did very little. Dysart doesn’t even seem to pretend it did anything. He leaves a lot unresolved so readers have to keep going with the main series (the point of a crossover book after all); it means there’s nothing to do the story itself. Dysart can’t fake it and make Wars seem worth it.

There’s some decent art; it’s a whole lot of action. There’s not even time for character moments, especially since Dysart only gives his regular Harbinger cast the slightest attention. Even the idiotic H.A.R.D Corps guys get more attention and they’re indistinguishable, despite codenames and different physical characteristics.

Dysart tries hard to keep the battlefronts clear, but it still doesn’t work.

I’m just glad the series’s finally over.

CREDITS

The Battle for Las Vegas; writers, Duane Swierczynski and Joshua Dysart; artists, Clayton Henry, Pere Perez and Mico Suayan; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Josh Johns Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 5 (November 2011)

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Mallory shows up–the first time Robertson has drawn him–and the series becomes about what I expected in the second half. Sadly the first half mostly consists of Butcher reading his wife’s diary where she talks about the Homelander attacking her.

The diary goes on and on for pages. Not sure why Ennis thinks anyone would believe Mrs. Butcher had no idea what Butcher saw in her, which is how he ends the diary reading. It’s like he had the diary as one thing and then the character in two issues of the comic as someone else entirely. It’s weak writing.

The finish, with Butcher on his first mission for Mallory, is pretty good stuff. It’s Robertson doing something more akin to regular Boys, which is nice. Candlestickmaker hadn’t been giving him exercise lately. This issue lets him shine.

Still, it’s unclear why Ennis needed more than two issues.

CREDITS

Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Darick Robertson; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril 4 (December 2013)

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This issue doesn’t really have enough content to be a full issue, except Hogan has decided he wants to do a couple serious things and they’re going to be worth the cover price.

And they are worth that cover price.

Without spoiling, the first thing has to do with Tom Strong, the character. Hogan makes a quiet, direct statement about what makes this comic different. He sort of drops Tom and Val into the middle of The Road Warrior and finds a different result. Why? Because with Tom Strong, anything is possible.

The second thing has to do with heroism and aging. It also relates back to Tom, who both ages and performs acts of heroism, but they’re ingrained into the character, not often discussed. Hogan figures out a way to talk about them a little.

Hogan is enthralled with writing the character, which really does set the comic apart.

A 

CREDITS

The Cavalier’s Attitude; 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.

Detective Comics 799 (December 2004)

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Besides a vaguely amusing Jesus Christ Superstar reference in this issue, there’s not much else to it. Things continue to go wrong with Batman’s plans for the “War Games” crossover, the sidekicks continue to have panel or two cameos to remind readers to pick up their solo books and Leslie has a scene. Oh, and the new commissioner is stick of Batman.

In other words, the status quo for the crossover.

Batman’s plan this issue involves putting every Gotham supervillain in the same place at once. Did the Batman editors watch The Warriors before they decided to subject the world to this crossover? How Batman didn’t anticipate something going wrong… I mean, Killer Croc is there. It’s an absurd scene.

Gabrych can’t sell it. Woods and inker Cam Smith do okay though.

The Riddler backup finishes. Castillo’s art is a little better, but it’s still a terrible story. Just terrible.

CREDITS

War Games, Act 3, Part 1: Good Intentions; writer, Andersen Gabrych; penciller, Pete Woods; inker, Cam Smith; colorist, Jason Wright; letterer, Jared Fletcher; editors, Michael Wright and Bob Schreck. Low, Part 3; writer, Shane McCarthy; penciller, Tommy Castillo; inker, Rodney Ramos; colorist, Tony Avina; letterer, Nick Napolitano; editor, Wright. Publisher, DC Comics.

Bloodshot 12 (June 2013)

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I’ve only read a few issues of Bloodshot but it seems like a big part of what Swierczynski does is have contrived scenes with Bloodshot and the men who wrong him in the past. It’ll seem like Bloodshot is finished, his nanites unable to repair him, but then he’ll magically come through thanks to the perseverance of the human spirit.

Especially against the very evil bad guys.

It’s really boring, especially since Swierczynski never comes up with good places for these action sequences. This issue’s takes place in a mechanized slaughterhouse. Feels a little like the end of the first Terminator movie, only without any drama.

Meanwhile, the kids and their babysitter are under siege in their transportation vehicle. The bad guys can remotely control the vehicle’s auto-lock system. It’s real silly and really dumb.

The art from Kitson and Gaudiano is quite good. Swierczynski’s script not so much.

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.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 4 (October 2011)

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I have to give it to Ennis, he does come up with one hectic of a death scene for Butcher’s wife. I always assumed it was something similar to Hughie’s but no. Ennis and Robertson pace that sequence beautifully. The way Ennis gets there though, it has some problems.

One of the things Butcher does, regardless of its problems, is bring the reader out of the Boys universe. It’s Margaret Thatcher, it’s Falklands War, it’s real. Bringing in the superheroes at the end without any context… it’s jarring and it reminds the reader Ennis is just doing this series to cash in. It also appears the two things can’t exist at once; Ennis has never textured his scenes in the the regular series like he does here.

There’s not much else to say about the issue. The death of the brother is really contrived. It’s a cheap, somewhat effective issue.

CREDITS

The Last Time to Look On This World of Lies; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Darick Robertson; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Pretty Deadly 1 (October 2013)

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I think Pretty Deadly is off to a good start but it’s hard to say for sure. Kelly Sue DeConnick is doing a maybe supernaturally themed Western and, if she’s not, she’s doing revisionist Western. Or she’s doing both at once.

After this first issue, I think the revisionism is clear–she and artist Emma Rios are looking at female characters in the Old West. More, the protagonist of the comic is a kid. It’s not clear how old she’s supposed to be, probably twelve or thirteen; she and an old blind guy apparently go from town to town and tell stories for tips. The storytelling sequence is real rough going. Rios goes wild with it. The enthusiasm gets it through.

The second half of the issue reveals the problem–the kid, Sissy, she stole something she shouldn’t have. Now there’s the bad woman after her.

Deadly’s competent and interesting.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

2000 AD 26 (20 August 1977)

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I guess I haven’t been paying attention but the lead of Invasion, Bill Savage, barely even registers a presence anymore. Finley-Day is more concerned with the setting of his stories than the content.

Harlem Heroes, with Belardinelli art and Tully apparently wrapping up, is far more pleasant. Home stretch hopefully. It’s still incomprehensible nonsense.

The Shako story is great. Wagner does a Cuckoo’s Nest homage while Lopez-Vera does a great job on the art. A little Inuit kid befriends Shako, which is adorable.

Steve Moore writes a weak Future-Shock. Horacio Lalia’s on the art. It’s not memorable either.

The M.A.C.H. 1 story introduces space aliens. Not sure if anything else matters. It’s goofy beyond belief; Jaime Marzal-Canós really doesn’t pace it well either.

Wagner writes a decent enough Dredd, with three acts in maybe five pages. McMahon does well until he overfills the final two pages.

CREDITS

Invasion, Bluebird; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Carlos Pino; letterer, John Aldrich. Harlem Heroes, Part Twenty-six; writer, Tom Tully; artist , Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Pete Knight. Shako, Part Seven; writer, John Wagner; artist, Lopez-Vera; letterer, Tony Jacob. Tharg’s Future-Shocks, Food for Thought; writer, Steve Moore; artist, Horacio Lalia; letterer, Jack Potter. M.A.C.H. 1, The Death Trumpet; writer, Steve MacManus; artist, Jaime Marzal-Canós; letterer, Knight. Judge Dredd, Dream Palace; writer, Wagner; artist, Mike McMahon; letterer, Jacob. Editor, Kelvin Gosnell; publisher, IPC.

Harbinger 13 (June 2013)

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Why is Dysart even doing this issue? It reads like a summary of an action scene, which suggests he or Swierczynski will cover the actual action in either Harbinger Wars or Bloodshot. Probably both, actually, given what doesn’t occur in this comic.

What does occur, besides the flashback stuff, is the gang acting incompetent. I think Faith gave them a superhero team name, but I can’t remember. The Renegades, maybe?

Anyway, Torque’s still a jerk and they’re no good at stopping a single moving vehicle. It’s sort of sad.

The “interesting” stuff in the comic is the flashback to when Toyo goes up against P.R.S. back in the late sixties. Dysart is vaguely interested in these scenes and they don’t read like rote. Sadly, he seems most interested into the idea of a harbinger during the Civil Rights movement–one page.

This crossover event is strangling Dysart at this point.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; artists, Khari Evans and Trevor Hairsine; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Josh Johns and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 3 (September 2011)

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Why am I reading this comic? It’s a family drama this issue–oh, wait, Butcher meets the greatest woman in the world and she totally changes his life with her patience and inner beauty. Of course her death would send him over the cliff–she doesn’t die here, it’s way too soon, but I do think Ennis has established she does die.

It’s like a happy scene in a soap opera, page after page, over and over again. Ennis is completely incapable of writing these scenes honestly. I wonder if he had someone give him a list of trite romantic blather for them to recite.

Even Robertson has checked out a little. Drawing talking heads for terrible dialogue must have been annoying.

There’s not a good or honest moment in the entire issue. I kind of don’t want to read any more of it. I’ve entirely lost interest in Butcher.

CREDITS

It Must Be Love, Love, Love; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Darick Robertson; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Star Trek 26 (October 2013)

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If it weren’t for the terrible art from Fajar, this issue might actually be pretty good. Johnson splits the crew–spending Spock off to consult the Federation while everyone on the Enterprise questions him leaving Kirk and Kirk off with the Klingons as a prisoner.

Johnson’s juxtaposition is interesting because Kirk’s the one who has the most faith in Spock; now, will Johnson answer the question of whether Kirk has faith in Spock’s own decision making or does Kirk really have faith the human crew will convince Spock to act. Or will Johnson ignore that plot thread because he’s really more about wowing the reader.

Except Johnson has no ammunition. As a sequel to Into Darkness, this story arc will always have to be muted–it’s a poorly drawn licensed comic after all. Paramount won’t allow anything major.

It’s a fine enough issue, though the hard cliffhanger is spectacularly lame.

CREDITS

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

Detective Comics 798 (November 2004)

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It just keeps getting sillier. It’s hard to blame it on Gabyrch–he’s writing a company crossover issue, he had to not reveal the mystery villain, he had to move the pieces. The piece he moves the most here is Tim Drake. He’s quit being Robin because it’s dangerous or something, but then he decides to become Robin again.

Not quite “Spider-Man–No More!” Not quite Superman II. Not quite anything, actually. Gabrych doesn’t have any time to spend with Tim, since he’s got the villains to deal with, the action scenes, Batman and Oracle arguing.

Worse, the whole “urban legend” thing with Batman gets brought up at least twice here. It’s moronic.

Woods does okay on the art, except the panel revealing Tim as Robin. Woods can’t bring dramatic effect to a lame moment.

The terrible Riddler backup consists of Poison Ivy making fun of him. Big yawn.

CREDITS

War Games, Act 2, Part 1: Undertow; writer, Andersen Gabrych; penciller, Pete Woods; inker, Cam Smith; colorist, Jason Wright; editors, Michael Wright and Bob Schreck. Low, Part 2; writer, Shane McCarthy; penciller, Tommy Castillo; inker, Rodney Ramos; colorist, Tony Avina; editor, Wright. Letterer, Pat Brosseau; publisher, DC Comics.

Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde 2 (October 2013)

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Again with the pacing issues. There’s nothing with the government subplot, which almost makes it seem like Dark Horse okayed Hogan and Parkhouse for another limited series after this one (for Hogan to work out his b plots) and nothing with the characters either. Maybe a little with Asta. But not a lot.

Instead, there’s a little investigating going on. Harry and Asta meet and question three people who knew the titular victim. Wait, I forgot–Harry seems to be crushing a little on Asta. But Hogan only mentions it once.

Anyway, they question three people. Hogan could have probably done this entire limited series in one issue. There’s not much to it, just geographic travel–and if he dropped the b subplot he’s not using, he’d definitely have room.

Alien remains a very likable comic, it just has really flimsy plotting for a monthly series. Hogan’s not pushing himself.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editor, Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 2 (August 2011)

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This issue is a bit of a summary nightmare. The opening stuff with the Falklands is okay, though Ennis has covered a lot of the same territory with Born. Butcher turns out to be a natural born killer, which should get him in more trouble than it does–and it might even do so, but Ennis falls back on summary for the last half of the issue.

When his family–not the dad though–shows up in the last few pages, I’d forgotten they were still around, like maybe they’d died at some point between the first and second issues and Ennis just forgot to cover it.

As always, the war history stuff is decent. It’s not great because it does center around Butcher and Ennis is trying to make it all fit together, but it’s decent.

With the Robertson art, the issue’s rather digestible, just not filling at all.

CREDITS

Harriet; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Darick Robertson; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Velvet 1 (October 2013)

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If I have to talk about Velvet in terms of good and bad, I don’t think I’ll enjoy the conversation very much. In this first issue, Ed Brubaker brings in one of his familiar tropes–the person with the secret, extraordinary past; one problem with writing a lot of comics, your standards become very, very obvious.

The title character, Velvet, seems to be a mild-mannered secretary at a super-secret spy agency who sleeps with all the agents before they go out on dangerous missions. The truth? Well, it’s not clear yet, but I’ll bet she was the greatest spy the agency ever had and now she’s fighting to save her colleagues, who all suspect her of a crime she hasn’t committed.

The period art–sixties and seventies–is quite good. Steve Epting obviously likes it a lot and his enthusiasm helps.

It’s a fine outing, just dangerously shallow.

B 

CREDITS

Before the Living End; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Steve Epting; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; publisher, Image Comics.

Detective Comics 797 (October 2004)

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It’s a little hard to take this issue seriously. At one point, Batman is shocked the fighting gang members–this issue is part of the “War Games” crossover event–he’s shocked when the gang members abandon people in need. It’s a terrible, terrible scene. Gabrych goes through a lot of trouble for realistic gang behavior, then makes Batman absurd.

Otherwise, the issue mostly involves Batman and Batgirl running around Gotham fighting various gang members. Trying to calm them down, more like. It’s a lot of awkward, expository sequences. Gabrych’s Orpheus character (Batman’s plant in the crime world) is in it way too much.

There’s also the lame part where DC had decided Batman was an urban legend again and “War Games” revealed him on the TV news.

The backup, from Shane McCarthy, Tommy Castillo and Rodney Ramos, is bad. Riddler and Poison Ivy. Really weak proportions from Castillo in particular.

CREDITS

War Games, Act 1, Part 1: Flashpoint; writer, Andersen Gabrych; penciller, Pete Woods; inker, Nathan Massengill; colorist, Jason Wright; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Michael Wright and Bob Schreck. Low, Part 1; writer, Shane McCarthy; penciller, Tommy Castillo; inker, Rodney Ramos; colorist, Tony Avina; letterer, Ken Lopez; editor, Wright. Publisher, DC Comics.

Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde 1 (September 2013)

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It’s a really fast read. Hogan covers a whole lot and he’s not doing anything but setting up the rest of the series. It should be an okay move, but he’s already had a zero issue for Suicide Blonde, he’s already had time to introduce things.

Worse, Hogan knows he’s rushing things. He puts in moments to slow down the reader, whether it’s some exposition about a side character, pop culture references to “Frasier” and “The X-Files” or the whole government flashback. The guys looking for Harry haven’t shown up yet in the present. Hogan’s just filling pages with flashbacks.

There is definitely some nice art from Parkhouse. He gets to go more around town than usual and his Americana stuff is quite good.

The comic remains pleasant and entertaining to read, it’s just too slight. Hogan isn’t developing any of the characters. The comic is an awkward procedural.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editor, Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 1 (July 2011)

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Besides the vaguely obviously device of Butcher narrating his tale to his dead father (in his casket, no less), Garth Ennis does a fairly decent job with this issue. In some ways, leaving Butcher a mystery–instead of giving him Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker (way too cute)–would have been better. However, given Ennis opens with Falklands War and then goes back to Butcher’s childhood in the seventies? It works.

Ennis’s big problem with The Boys is his lack of interest. He had a gimmick, he got tired of it, but he didn’t create characters strong enough to support a series without continuously imaginative plotting. Butcher, for example, is a caricature. Ennis hasn’t even given him generic details. So Candlestickmaker is actually something entirely new.

Darick Robertson (late of the regular series) returns; he does an outstanding job doing domestic turmoil and urban squalor.

It’s good, with no right to be.

CREDITS

Bomb Alley; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Darick Robertson; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

S.H.O.O.T. First 1 (October 2013)

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I guess S.H.O.O.T. First is supposed to be controversial. The tag line is atheists versus angels, only the angels are these inter-dimensional bad guys who come to Earth and feed off people’s belief in them.

Writer Justin Aclin explains the situation over and over again. As usual for one of these type comics, the first issue starts with a new team member joining. The reader will get to see this world fresh through his eyes in coming issues.

Yawn.

Aclin isn’t even particularly funny with his observations on faith. He should at least be funny; otherwise it seems like Dark Horse is trying to sell the most impossible movie license ever.

Artist Nicolás Daniel Selma isn’t quite ready for prime time yet. His figures are too blocky, which makes it hard to lose track of their appearance and pay attention.

At best, it’s meager stuff.

CREDITS

The Bottle Jinn; writer, Justin Aclin; artist, Nicolás Daniel Selma; colorist, Marlac; letterer, Amanda Aguilar Selma; editors, Ian Tucker, Aaron Walker and Dave Marshall; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 18 (June 1984)

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It’s an interesting issue for a number of reasons. It’s a mix of Lost Horizon and Edgar Rice Burroughs with Indy and Marion finding their way to a lost city in the Himalayas. Yeti-like creatures protect the city, which has many secrets.

One of those secrets is the presence of Abner Ravenwood; Michelinie doesn’t resolve that mystery–probably not allowed to do it under the license–but his solution for it is fantastic.

There’s a lot of action and almost no story. The revelations about the lost city are mostly just to move the action along. After one moment of introspection from Indy, Michelinie solely concentrating on the action.

The writing makes it work.

The awful art is sometimes incredible. Trimpe’s little heads are something to see. He doesn’t even do well on the landscapes–but he gets better inks on those panels.

It’s an ugly comic, but decent.

CREDITS

The Search for Abner, Chapter Two: The City of Yesterday’s Forever!; writer, David Michelinie; penciller, Herb Trimpe; inkers, Vince Colletta, Danny Bulanadi and Ernie Chan; colorist, Robbie Carosella; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Eliot Brown; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde 0 (August 2013)

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Once again, Peter Hogan goes more towards likable than compelling with Resident Alien. He’s more concerned with his readers enjoying the time spent on the comic than making sure they’re intrigued with the plot.

The biggest moment is when the U.S. government discovers Harry’s ship–there are a lot of flashbacks–and starts worrying about an alien.

Then Hogan backtracks and brings in a whole thing about inter-agency pranks and the government not really thinking it’s an alien. But it was fun to read, even if there wasn’t much actual content.

The end’s nice, with Harry deciding he likes his new life–doctor by day, private detective by night; Hogan knows what he’s doing with the comic. The tone is definitely intentional. I mean, Steve Parkhouse can draw some disturbing stuff and he never does on Alien.

The only surprise is Asta’s Sandman homage costume at the open.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editor, Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Boys 59 (October 2011)

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Ennis can definitely still write great scenes. The Butcher “losing it” scene in this issue–it takes up the last three or so pages, but feels like a lot more–is amazing Ennis writing.

Strangely, it comes in an otherwise weak issue. There’s a talk between the Boys and the Seven, just a talk, then Hughie going off the deep end on Butcher at a staff dinner. That scene is particularly weak because Ennis’s arc for Hughie this issue is awful. He starts one place then immediately goes another–Ennis writes him angry, sure, but the final place he takes him doesn’t make any sense either.

There’s some more stuff with the evil company, mechanically moving along its subplot. Ennis is solving mysteries no one really cares about at this point. He’s winding down the series and he’s hitting his plot points, nothing else.

But that last scene… truly amazing.

CREDITS

The Big Ride, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 17 (May 1984)

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One could just sit and admire Michelinie’s storytelling economy. Not even the great character work he does on Indy, but just the economy of how he structures the catch-up.

He opens in a dangerous present, resolving a cliffhanger he never did, then (somewhat obviously but still competently) goes back to fill in the blanks. The awesome part is how he gives equal weight to flashbacks from the comic and the stuff he’s just filling in. It makes readers feel familiar with the new material, even though they’ve never seen it before.

Neat trick.

The finish involves an evil Frenchman and an evil Scot–I’m guessing, I wasn’t paying attention–teaming up with the Nazis to raid a lost city. They’re weak villains, but the rest of the comic makes up for them.

If only it the art were better. Trimpe and Colleta mess up action and quiet panels alike.

CREDITS

The Search for Abner, Chapter One: The Grecian Earn; writer, David Michelinie; penciller, Herb Trimpe; inker, Vince Colletta; colorist, Robbie Carosella; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Eliot Brown; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Resident Alien 3 (July 2012)

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I didn’t really like this one. The issue, I mean. The series is still fine. To some degree, getting the series set for a sequel didn’t help Hogan. But also not having a good conclusion to his mystery. He has Harry finishing up the investigation and then the investigation sort of blowing up in his face. There’s nothing interesting about the plot structure and the case gets boring.

And then the supporting cast falls off again too. Not even Asta has anything to do during the issue, just for her big scene at the end. It’s hard to say if the structure is where Hogan lost control of the issue; the entire issue just feels a little too slight. Like maybe they found out they were getting another series and replotted this one.

Still, it’s very likable. It just doesn’t do as well as it should. Maybe the next will.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editor, Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Boys 58 (September 2011)

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Most of the “events” this issue are old items hinted at in some bug logs Hughie is reading. There’s a scene where he and Butcher continue investigating the crime, but it actually just confirms the suspicions they’ve had for two issues. It doesn’t develop anything, just confirms. Ennis is really treading water here….

Especially given the scene with the Legend and Butcher. The whole “Is Butcher a bad guy” foreshadowing runs through the scene and I realized Ennis tries as hard as he can to bring it back every issue. To force it into one conversation or another; at this point, there’s no way for him to do it naturally.

And nothing about The Boys feels natural anymore. Ennis has hit a point where way too little is happening in his story arcs. He’s not taking his time to enjoy; here it’s just bad jokes.

He’s tired, so’s the comic.

CREDITS

The Big Ride, Part Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

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