The Maze Agency 19 (March 1991)

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Barr tries to do something really big with Gabe and Jen this issue in their personal life. He sort of hints at it throughout, then reveals it in the finale. It’s not much of a development as Barr seems to be forcing it to fit the Christmas theme.

The mystery this issue is fairly lame. There’s an association of amateur private detectives and they hire Gabe, Jen and Jen’s rival to solve some year old murder. The investigation of the actual crime–being a year late–is weak. Worse, Barr focuses on the rivalry between Jen and her rival more than the case. Maybe he knew it was weak too.

Rob Davis’s pencils are particularly tepid. He does take the time to make sure Jen’s got an upset expression when her rival’s around, but there’s nothing else to it.

The comic feels tired. Not exhausted, run out. Barr’s on empty.

CREDITS

The Adventure of the Mystery League; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Rob Davis; inker, John Tighe; colorists, Susan Glod and Michelle Basil; letterer, Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

Ultimate Spider-Man 129 (February 2009)

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Oh, come on, Bendis… good grief.

So, Bendis finally gets around to giving Peter and Mary Jane an excellent circle of friends to hang out with–Kong, Kitty, Johnny, Gwen–and then it turns out the end is near because this issue is an Ultimatum tie-in. And there’s a great bit with Johnny crushing on Jessica Drew, who’s back in New York for whatever reason.

The issue’s upsetting because, as usual, it does show Bendis can write. Great scenes for Johnny, great ones for Peter and Mary Jane. The school principal freaking about Gwen isn’t so great, but it’s okay. Bendis doesn’t seem to know what to do with May since she’s found out Peter’s Spider-Man.

But where’s it going? Into a crossover event. No good ever comes out of a crossover event and Bendis always takes forever to right his course after the series gets upset.

Bummer.

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.

Kiss Me, Satan 1 (September 2013)

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I can’t believe I’m going to make this complaint–writer Victor Gischler has way too much structure for the first issue of Kiss Me, Satan. At least at the beginning.

He adopts a three act structure for the issue. He introduces protagonist Barnabas Black–apparently some kind of fallen angel trying to get back into Heaven–on the run from some demons. Except Barnabas isn’t the focus of the issue, but the leader of the werewolf pack.

Gischler gets to him and his problems in the second act. The third act is bringing everything together.

The comic is best when Barnabas isn’t around, especially when he’s not narrating. Gischler doesn’t do well with the narration; he makes it all sound hackneyed, but he and artist Juan Ferreyra are able to sell the rest.

Satan’s fast and often funny. But having a boring character for a protagonist’s never a good thing.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Juan Ferreyra; colorists, Eduardo Ferreyra and Juan Ferreyra; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth 5 (September 2013)

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Todd is back and, wow, how he’s back. Having a successful limited series turn into an ongoing has apparently emboldened Perker and Kristensen. They don’t just continue their existing story, they take it up a bunch of notches.

There’s a lot about higher American culture–Charlie Rose, Tom Wolfe, PBS–but there’s also a bunch of digs at comic book culture. They brazenly go after Marvel. It’s all for fun… in a way, but the digs into Marvel readers? Those are serious. As is the absurdity of Marvel trying to hire Tom Wolfe to write a Wolverine comic.

That plot is just one of a few. There’s also the nut job cop trying to hire black officers, which is amazing stuff, and Todd’s new “sister” and how she fits into the family.

Not to mention the awesome opening set to It Was a Very Good Year. Perker and Kristensen rock.

CREDITS

Writers, M.K. Perker and Ken Kristensen; artist, Perker; colorist, Sedat Gosterikli; letterer, Pat Brosseau; publisher, Image Comics.

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