Detective Comics 796 (September 2004)


Batman and Robin versus Zsasz, only it’s Stephanie Brown as Robin and so Batman’s trying to train her.

It’s not an awful comic. Woods and Massengill drew her really poorly though. It’s hard to explain exactly what, but she looks too old and doesn’t emote enough for all the emotion Gabrych writes for her.

The story’s mostly the fight scene. There’s an opening mugging prevented, the impossible crime scene detection, then the finale with the big bad. There’s no personality to the issue–Batman doesn’t narrate, Robin doesn’t narrate. Oracle shows up to doubt his hiring Stephanie to be Robin. It reads fast, which helps it over most of the bumps.

The backup is a lame fight scene thing with Onyx, Batman and Batgirl. Batgirl shows more personality in one line than anyone else in both stories combined.

And the painted, Zsasz-vision panels don’t help the feature at all.


…And Red All Over; penciller, Pete Woods; inker, Nathan Massengill; colorist, Jason Wright; editors, Michael Wright and Bob Schreck. Polished Stone, Part Two; penciller, Brad Walker; inker, Troy Nixey; colorist, Giulia Brusco; editor, Matt Idelson. Writer, Andersen Gabrych; letterer, Clem Robins; publisher, DC Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 19 (December 2013)

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So does Slott successfully conclude his Spider-Man 2099 thing?

Define successful. It’s not a terrible issue. It’s definitely one of the better ones with Spidey 2099 in it, probably because there’s none of his annoying narration and he’s treated like a buffoon throughout.

Otto loses the spotlight even more, however. And for some inexplicable reason, Slott wastes a whole page on a monologue from Mary Jane. Mary Jane who hasn’t been a part of this comic book for over a dozen issues; she gets some spotlight time.

What else happens… oh, right, a big double-page spread of famous Spider-Man panels, only with Otto, as he tries to remember something of Peter Parker’s memory he needs. It’s not an effective sequence. Slott aims low throughout.

I still generally like Stegman’s art–there’s one panel during a car chase I absolutely love–but it really does remind of McFarlane.


1.21 Giga-Whats?!; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Ryan Stegman; inker, Livesay; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 6 (March 2010)

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Maybe Bendis and Marvel were trying to sell Ultimate Spider-Man to the Disney Channel with this series? There are like three boys, three girls… it’d be perfect…. right? I can’t see any other reason for the terrible decisions Bendis makes this issue.

Worst is when May meets with the principal and their previous meeting comes up. It was back when Stuart Immonen was on the book and he could draw emotion and conversation. As opposed to Lafuente, who makes it all look like less competent than an ad for Hostess Fruit Cakes.

The big reveal of the issue–in true Superman fashion–is Kitty Pryde’s new superhero identity. It’s worse because she disappears in Kitty style this issue and Peter doesn’t figure it out.

It’d be a shame what Bendis had done to the series, except it’s so bad one can’t even remember the good days after this issue.


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

Afterlife with Archie 1 (September 2013)

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Afterlife with Archie is a lot better than it should be, a lot better. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa sets up the issue beautifully–or maybe he doesn’t. Maybe in Archie comics these days Sabrina the teenage witch is a lot different than I was expecting… and maybe Betty and Veronica do act like mean girls.

But even if these instances are examples of the norm, Aguirre-Sacasa still comes up with an excellent script. He pays a lot of homage to horror classics and starts out to make one of his own. The way he plots the issue–Sabrina, Jughead, Archie–he’s really thought it through how he wants the issue to read.

And the Francesco Francavilla artwork is outstanding. Afterlife both looks like the traditional Archie but also has a lot of gothic realism to it. It’s creepy; Francavilla really makes sure it’s always creepy.

It’s a very pleasant surprise.


Writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Jack Morelli; editors, Victor Gorelick, Carly Inglis and Paul Kaminski; publisher, Archie Comics.

The Shaolin Cowboy 1 (October 2013)

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The Shaolin Cowboy opens with two pages of text apparently explaining the series to the reader. I say apparently because I did not read it. It’s a whole lot of text to read at the beginning of a comic book, especially one where it turns out there isn’t very much text at all.

Cowboy is Geof Darrow art. It’s great art, if the content is a little silly. And the jokes at neo-con expense are forced. One of them would have been funny five years ago, the other funny maybe ten. Darrow only goes after easy targets too.

There are zombies, there are bros tweeting, there are chainsaws. There’s also the Shaolin Cowboy jumping all over the place.

The comic’s awesome in spite of itself. Anything derivative or silly, Darrow’s art excuses. His sense of visual pacing is astonishing. It’s a marvelous read, even though it’s very content light.


Writer and artist, Geof Darrow; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Peter Doherty; editors, Ian Tucker and Brendan Wright; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Three 1 (October 2013)

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So, in order to understand why Three has its title, I had to go read a press release. Nothing in the issue itself explains the title; having read the press release, I might be able to guess what comes next–if the soft cliffhanger is actually a hard one–but it’s a lot of hassle for a comic book.

While I do like Ryan Kelly’s art and Kieron Gillen definitely isn’t lazy as far as his research goes, I’m unsure why I should care about Three if I don’t like Greek history. Gillen’s not offering anything else; there’s no amazing character work here, it’s just a story about ancient Greece.

Is it different than other stories? Maybe the most mainstream ones, but there’s nothing new here.

Gillen seems to be trying to shock with how badly slaves were treated. Maybe he needs a wide-eyed audience.

Still, good Kelly art.


Writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Ryan Kelly; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; publisher, Image Comics.

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics 4 (December 2013)

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So, if one classifies the first issue as a pilot issue and then two through four as the first story arc, I suppose this issue is all right.

It’s also kind of not, because Oliver wraps up his story arc really quick to reset the comic. He has a chance with the next issue to start over, erasing–but not really–all memory of when the book was called Collider and that word was used a lot in the first issue.

By resetting the ground situation–the continuing reader presumably somewhat familiar with the rules, the cast, the backstory–Oliver gets to conduct the ultimate cop out. He’s no longer responsible for FBP’s problems. The reset button takes care of them.

It’s desperate.

It’s also okay enough. Rodriguez gets to draw the real world, which is a nice change from the lame alternate reality.

I’ll get it a chance.


The Paradigm Shift, Part Four; writer, Simon Oliver; artist, Robbi Rodriguez; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

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