The Maze Agency 20 (May 1991)

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John Calimee and Michael Avon Oeming bring something of a cartoon style to the characters. Not in a bad way–exaggerated expressions help the mystery aspect–but they don’t bring anything to the setting. The act doesn’t lift anything heavy and it definitely should have tried; Barr relies on it, in fact.

The issue takes place on a private island, with Gabe and Jennifer trying to figure out a twenty year-old murder and a modern one too. That deserted mansion setting needs something from the art; Barr clearly writes the issue with that expectation. But the artists don’t deliver.

The issue’s all right otherwise. Barr does have some decent moments in the mystery (just no characters ones) and it proves a fine diversion. The end, after a while, is unexpected.

Maze is suffering, however. Barr doesn’t have a character development arc anymore. He’s holding everything still and it shows.

CREDITS

The Problem of the Devil’s Chambers; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, John Calimee; inker, Michael Avon Oeming; colorist, Scott Rockwell; letterer, Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

Ultimate Spider-Man 4 (January 2010)

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Hang on, between Lafuente’s style and Peter’s incredibly feminine hair… is Ultimate Spider-Man supposed to be a manga now? I’m also thinking of the awful section where Peter, Johnny, Gwen and Aunt May sit in the kitchen and talk. May’s lines are goofy one-liners for emphasis. Oh, and Peter moves into the attic. Wasn’t that on “Amazing Friends” in the eighties?

There are some really lame things in the comic. It opens with Mary Jane getting attacked and the Robe superhero saving her. Lafuente’s action scenes are hideous. Page after page of bad action at the beginning–and then at the end too when Peter’s fighting the Hulk. It feels weird to call him Peter. Bendis doesn’t write him to same anymore.

New Peter.

But there’s a hint of the old goodness when Gwen, Mary Jane and New Peter talk for a little while. It’s not enough though.

CREDITS

The New World According to Peter Parker, Part Four; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist, David Lafuente; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Sana Amanat, Lauren Sankovitch and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Coffin Hill 1 (December 2013)

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Coffin Hill is–while definitely reminiscent of some other comics, book series and movies–its own thing.

Writer Caitlin Kittredge marries some familiar concepts–rookie cop versus serial killer, teenage witches, haunted family–into something relatively fresh. The protagonist, Eve Coffin, is immediately memorable. Her supporting cast is strong. The cast fluctuates as the issue moves from the present back thirteen years. Kittredge’s greatest strength is a little one. She never loses track of Coffin’s partner, who is always in a scene as support and always perfectly so.

Inaki Miranda’s art is fine, but somewhat indistinct. There are emo teenagers, there are regular cops, there’s some blood, there’s some imagery out of Poe. Miranda never does anything new with these elements, but is always strong with them.

Hill ends on a standard haunted house note, but Kittredge earns a lot of goodwill with this first issue. A lot of goodwill.

CREDITS

Forest of the Night; writer, Caitlin Kittredge; artist, Inaki Miranda; colorist, Eva De La Cruz; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Gregory Lockard and Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

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