Noir 1 (November 2013)

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I don’t know why I should keep reading Noir. It’s a perfectly serviceable comic for Dynamite to exploit a couple licenses they hold–The Shadow and Miss Fury–but there’s nothing else going on with it.

The art, from Andrea Mutti, is pretty good. So’s the writing, actually. Victor Gischler does a fine enough job with it. He’s got the Shadow teaming up with some Spanish lady spy to track down some kind of artifact. It feels a little like a pulp, but a pulp with some Indiana Jones type stuff thrown in. Only in the United States instead of Europe somewhere.

Gischler does okay with the Shadow’s narration and with the dialogue. He just doesn’t come up with a reason to keep going on the comic. It’s competent and disposable. I didn’t realize there were still people who blindly bought Shadow comics but Dynamite must think those people exist.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Andrea Mutti; colorist, Vladimir Popov; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Molly Mahan and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 20 (August 1984)

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The issue opens with a full page spread–Indy looking at an artifact with a magnifying glass–but it’s the only uneconomical use of page space in the issue. Luke McDonnell has to pack panels on the page to get through all the action in Priest’s script.

David Michelinie gets a story credit, but it feels like a different comic without him. Even the art. McDonnell draws Marcus Brody younger than anyone else has before–and younger than Denholm Elliot; probably because Priest’s script implies Brody was once much like Indy in the adventuring department.

And Priest does have a lot of time for the romance between Indy and Marion. He dials it down quite a few notches but does at least acknowledge it.

In many ways, the issue doesn’t feel like a licensed property. But feeling more original doesn’t help–the creators are generally competent but the comic’s charmless.

CREDITS

The Cuban Connection; writers, David Michelinie and Christopher Priest; penciller, Luke McDonnell; inker, Danny Bulanadi; colorist, Rob Carosella; letterer, Rick Parker; editor, Eliot Brown; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Clown Fatale 1 (November 2013)

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I sort of didn’t want to like Clown Fatale. It’s about four female clowns in a lame circus–where the circus owners moonlight as assassins. Given the Fatale in the title, I should have guessed they were sexy clowns. I didn’t, but they are sexy clowns. I’m not sure if Victor Gischler came up with this genre or if there are other examples….

Oh, they’re also kick-ass sexy clowns.

There are four of them; the lead, the two vaguely nondescript ones (except their race) and the psycho one. Gischler writes them some funny dialogue and he keeps the conversations going between four or five characters rather well. He never lets things go too long.

Maurizio Rosenzweig does okay on the art. When things are too static, not so much. Except his static cheesecake, he works at those panels. But both the action and humor are good.

Clown’s unexpectedly amusing.

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; penciller, Maurizio Rosenzweig; inker and colorist, Moreno Dinisio; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Sheltered 5 (November 2013)

289578 20131120131933 largeIn some ways, it’s the best writing Brisson has done on the series–he’s taking a wide view of events, not focusing on his initial protagonists, and it’s working. Sheltered now feels very full, even though it takes place in such constraints. Plus, Brisson is frequently able to use character names naturally in dialogue. Helps with such a large cast.

However, it’s probably Christmas’s weakest art so far on the book. There’s a fair amount of looseness throughout, but the action packed finale feels incredibly rushed. It’s particularly bad since it’s during the action sequence and things get confusing. The whole visual pace of the final sequence seems off; Christmas is dragging things out to get to a splash page hard cliffhanger.

The issue’s really talky, with Brisson using the conversations to build subplots. It’s also giving him a more sympathetic cast.

Thanks to Brisson, Sheltered might have some legs.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Johnnie Christmas; colorist, Shari Chankhamma; editor, Paul Allor; publisher, Image Comics.

Sheltered 4 (October 2013)

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It’s an unexpectedly rough issue. Brisson and Christmas save the roughness for the finish–even going through a vicious fight scene with more eventual humor than anything else–but then Christmas has a two page spread and stuns.

Brisson’s doing something interesting with his main villain. He makes the kid more self-aware of his faults, which makes him even more dangerous. His actions, cruel and unusual, all make perfect sense. At those moments, Brisson has the reader identifying with him.

The issue splits between the main villain, the goofy villain, the two renegade girls–gone from active protagonists to inactive prisoners–and some of the other kids around the compound. As usual, it’s a fast read, though Brisson does follow something of a three act structure.

Brisson also uses a lot of dialogue to slow the pace, but then will switch over to visual storytelling. Sheltered is feels predictable.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Johnnie Christmas; colorist, Shari Chankhamma; editor, Paul Allor; publisher, Image Comics.

The Wake 5 (December 2013)

289527 20131120094335 largeStarting this issue, I felt a little bad. I only read The Wake to praise Murphy’s art and to mock Snyder’s writing. It’s definitely mock-worthy this time around too, but then he goes and does something even more amazing.

He craps on the story he is telling and then announces he’s going to tell an entirely different story. Apparently one about flying girls. So instead of ripping off The Abyss, Leviathan and whatever other underwater adventures he could… He announces he’s instead going to rip off Waterworld and post-apocalyptic stuff.

Am I spoiling the end of this issue?

No, because this issue–this storyline–isn’t the point. Murphy was just messing around.

It’s the perfect jumping off point too, because it’s clear there’s never going to be anything resembling a good narrative here.

Oh, Contact. He rips Contact off a little here too.

Anyway, crappy writing, great art.

CREDITS

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

Brother Lono 6 (January 2014)

289533 20131120101852 largeI hate the moments where the writer makes a big revelation his protagonist is actually the biggest badass in the world. At best, they’re hollow, at worst… well, they’re hollow and bad. Except Azzarello pulls it off here. And he pulls it off because of how he’s structured this series so far.

With Lono, Azzarello has done a somewhat gentle structure–the lives of the people in this town, in their particular situations, all brought together. When he reveals the “truth” about Lono, he does it through the characters he’s established. He throws a lot at the good guys this issue and their characters react and develop wondrously. Azzarello writes the heck out of the characters here.

And then there’s Risso’s art. Risso gets to do a huge action sequence after a couple lengthily paced sequences. He does great work.

It’s an outstanding comic; raises my hopes for the series.

CREDITS

¡La Canción de Los Torturados!; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, Eduardo Risso; colorist, Trish Mulvihill; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Sara Miller and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

Brother Lono 5 (December 2013)

Lono 5The hard cliffhanger suggests Azzarello is finally getting to the inevitable bloody showdown in Brother Lono. He’s been setting it up, foreshadowing it with corpses mostly; it sort of had to happen, otherwise there wouldn’t be an epical plot line… but it’s also unfortunate.

So far, Brother Lono has been Azzarello and Risso delicately, intricately laying out scenes and connections. Azzarello manages to make it worthwhile in singles, but obviously more connected in the eventual trade. Giving it a big finish won’t undo the good work they’ve done, but it will suggest there’s a limit to how far mainstream comic can go. Of course, if they didn’t have eight issues for Lono, there would have had to be a lot more action.

Most of the stuff this issue’s character work. Azzarello plays the characters off one another–but not necessarily nefariously. Risso does great with those scenes.

Again, good stuff.

CREDITS

¡Los Hijos de la Sangre!; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, Eduardo Risso; colorist, Trish Mulvihill; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Sara Miller and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 5

And now we’re at something like six weeks between episodes. We’re sorry!

This episode, Vernon and I talk about new comic books, a little about “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and probably lots of little media-related tidbits, a little about recent comic book creator controversies, and we also announce the winner of the first Comics Fondle Podcast prize contest.

you can also subscribe on iTunes…

Drax the Destroyer 4 (February 2006)

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Giffen does manage a couple nice plot twists for the last issue, but since he’s ending this series as a prologue to some other series… there’s not much closure. In fact, the lack of closure just points out what a strange book Drax has been. The human inhabitants–turned into slave labor–are dismissible. Giffen made two of them sympathetic.

He also doesn’t work to make Drax sympathetic. Instead, the Skrull comes off as more likable. The Skrull has a very nice finish in the series (though apparently not enough to make it to the cliffhanger). There’s a strange coda with Cammi’s mother and her sidekick, like Giffen remembered it later.

The first half of the issue, even without the nice Skrull moments, reads better. Giffen isn’t rushing things for it.

Still, he wrote an amusing comic. Not successful, but definitely amusing. Shame the Skrull couldn’t have been the lead.

CREDITS

Hard Penance; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Kiss Me, Satan 3 (November 2013)

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Uh oh, I was supposed to be paying attention to the awkward flirting between the lead character and one of the witches. Gischler tries so hard for chemistry between the two of them it’s nauseating. Actually, the way the girl swoons for the guy reminds of Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman.

Otherwise, the issue’s reasonably okay. It’s mostly action, which doesn’t look great in Ferreyra’s somewhat painted art. But the scene has a couple unexpected moments and it moves well, static art or not.

Then comes the stuff with the witches, which works because Gischler writes the old witch lady so well. Ferreyra also renders her perfectly. She carries the second half of the issue. Gischler doesn’t bother giving anyone else as much personality. In the case of the protagonist, that lack of depth is already hurting things.

The series’s quality is evening out lower than I hoped; still, not bad.

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.

Batman 373 (July 1984)

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It’s a strange issue. It’s gorgeous–Colan and Alcala doing a Scarecrow issue is going to be gorgeous–but there’s so much mood, it’s like Colan forgot to break out a reasonable action sequence. After the first act, when Batman and Robin get into it, Colan and Moench are in a hurry. The leads drop into an existing action scene–the Bat-Signal calling them directly to the courthouse–and it doesn’t feel right. Colan’s compositions are more static than usual too.

Then there’s how much time Moench wastes explaining the Scarecrow. First he explains why the Scarecrow is mad at the other Batman villains, then he does a recap of the Scarecrow’s origin, then he explains the new fear juice. It’s just too much.

The subplots–Vicki, Alfred’s daughter, Dr. Fang–they do get some play, but not enough.

Maybe those parts don’t matter, given the truly awesome artwork.

CREDITS

The Frequency of Fear; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Albert De Guzman; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Drax the Destroyer 3 (January 2006)

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Cute Doctor Who reference.

Giffen also has a nice little moment where the “reality” of the Marvel Universe comes into play. There’s no way to call for help in a rural area to report an alien attack.

The issue opens with the girl bantering with the Skrull, which is a fun scene, especially since Giffen has the girl outwit the space thugs. The good banter distracts from the lack of actual content; there are a number of well-written scenes, but nothing with much heft.

For the issue’s last act–I use the term loosely as Giffen doesn’t really work towards a first or second act–Drax returns. Thanks to alien physiology, it’s the first time the reader gets to meet him. It’s also the first time Giffen gives him much to say.

It’s fun–Giffen writes Drax well against Cammi, the girl–but the comic’s running out of steam.

CREDITS

From the Ashes; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth 7 (November 2013)

289562 20131120121320 largeTodd doesn’t jump the shark with this issue; instead, Kristensen and Perker sort of hop the boat. They send Todd to Hell–literally–and he has to take Charon’s boat across the River Styx.

So, the creators aren’t exactly being exclusive–River Styx knowledge isn’t particularly high, but it’s smart. It’s a smart reference, it’s a smart turn of events. Similarly, there’s an opening reference to Jonah Hill. They just as ably make a solid pop culture reference.

Then there’s the story, which they split between Satan (in the prologue), Todd and his father and then Todd’s mother. Except the last two don’t really relate–it’s not, for instance, Todd trying to rescue his kidnapped mother.

Because Perker and Kristensen come up with something much better.

This issue has a lot of good laughs. Even better, the creators never go for the easiest joke; they always aim for higher ones.

CREDITS

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

Detective Comics 539 (June 1984)

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Bob Smith inking Don Newton is something to see. There’s almost an Eisner-like quality to the faces. It’s beautiful art on the feature.

But Moench’s writing is awesome too, whether it’s the main plot line with Batman teaming up with the Rocky stand-in to hunt down a killer or Jason feeling bad he was so crappy to Alfred’s daughter. Moench actually asks a bit of the reader–Vicki Vale figures in, but she hasn’t even had an appearance recently–but the scenes pay off.

The big boxing finale is only okay, however. Something about the way Batman stands down doesn’t play right. The epilogue’s very strong though. Moench’s trying hard to do something special with the comic.

Sadly, slapped on to this ambition is another odd Cavalieri’s Green Arrow backup. Half of this one is dedicated to the evils of corporate journalism. Cavalieri just can’t make Ollie likable.

CREDITS

Boxing; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, The Devil You Don’t Know; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Drax the Destroyer 2 (December 2005)

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Giffen continues to impress on Drax. Besides having the two thug aliens for humor, there’s also the Skrull. The Skrull–and his dimwit sidekick–are very funny. Giffen goes beyond the humor though. He’s got some fantastic plot twists.

The first one involves the girl, Cammi–actually, so does the second one. Giffen writes teenage girls well, apparently. Anyway, the first twist is the aliens leaving her alive. She doesn’t quite stand them down, but she points out living in the Marvel Universe, aliens aren’t exactly exciting anymore.

The second one has her setting Drax up to fight for her. It leads into the end twist. Giffen’s bucking the convention with this character; she’s not the nice human child who befriends an alien.

The last twist–besides that cliffhanger–is the aliens’ plan. They want slave labor to repair their ship. It’s like a fifties b movie. It’s great stuff.

CREDITS

Illegal Aliens; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Manifest Destiny 1 (November 2013)

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Manifest Destiny very nicely retells the story of Lewis and Clark, only with them hunting monsters in the American wilderness. Writer Chris Dingess hints at this turn of events for a little way, then reveals it full force and it’s a good reveal. Matthew Roberts’s art helps a lot. He captures the time period but he also has a lot of personality to his people.

One of the more interesting things Dingess does has to do with the partnership. Lewis and Clark are not great friends in this issue, but there’s the expectation once their identities are clear. Dingess has these mercenaries pair off and conspire and it’s interesting to see how either set of partners gets on.

The art’s lovely–Roberts has great designs too. It’s hard to tell much else. For instance, no idea how Dingess is going to pace the comic.

Destiny’s off to a good start.

CREDITS

Writer, Chris Dingess; artist, Matthew Roberts; colorist, Owen Gieni; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Rocket Girl 2 (November 2013)

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It’s too fast a read. Once Montclare gets to the flashback, which is set in the future–it might take up almost half the issue–he rushes. Flashbacks lend themselves to expository summary and Montclare takes that bait. Filling in the reader about the evil corporation isn’t just not as interesting as Rocket Girl’s adventures in eighties New York City, it doesn’t look as good either. Montclare isn’t giving Reeder much to do in that future flashback.

But even too fast, it’s a good read. The character work Montclare does is good, the humor’s good, the art’s amazing. And one compliment for the future part–Montclare is able to sell the teenage cops thing. It seems like a teen movie friendly detail to make Rocket Girl sell better to Hollywood… but Montclare makes it work.

The finale is a great foiled convenience store robbery. The comic’s a lot of fun.

CREDITS

Objects in Motion Tend to Stay in Motion…; writer, Brandon Montclare; artist and colorist, Amy Reeder; publisher, Image Comics.

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics 5 (January 2014)

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Does anyone remember that series Middleman? It had a female, Hispanic lead cop or something. I wonder if Oliver read it because he sure makes a big deal about how he’s got a female, Hispanic lead cop in this series now.

Oliver and Rodriguez soft boot FBP this issue, mostly in the last few pages. The whole world has changed in the days or weeks since the last issue, not just female Hispanic cops (I wonder if they have such beings in the real world or just in Oliver’s comic books), but also physics insurance and flashbacks.

Maybe if Rodriguez’s art was better, it might be worth sticking around to see what they do with FBP, but the art’s weak. It’s hurried and the colorist is doing a whole lot of shading work.

There are probably other big problems with the issue, but FBP’s not worth talking about anymore.

CREDITS

Things That Have Been; writer, Simon Oliver; artist, Robbi Rodriguez; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Umbral 1 (November 2013)

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There’s clearly a limit to human imagination. Or, at least there’s a limit to Antony Johnston’s imagination. Umbral concerns a mystical fantasy world with magic and intrigue and thieves’ guilds and all sorts of other little details fantasy comics, films, television shows and video games have been using for years.

And Johnston regurgitates them onto the page here. Oh, he throws in the people talking in something like hip modern English. So he’s seen A Knight’s Tale too.

Christopher Mitten’s art is okay in the comic. He’s just drawing castles and some vague monsters, but it’s not bad art at all. It’s loose at times and it’s hard to discern characters’ genders at times, but it’s not bad.

The writing’s bad. Not the dialogue so much–except the modern cursing stuff–but the narration. Especially the way Johnston puts exposition into dialogue to remind the reader of something.

Umbral’s lame.

CREDITS

The Day Dawned Twice; writer, Antony Johnston; artist, Christopher Mitten; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Thomas Mauer; publisher, Image Comics.

Buck Rogers 2 (October 2013)

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For the most part, it’s a strong issue. Chaykin’s gleefully overboard with this idea of Rogers as a twenties American socialist awoken around a bunch of closed-minded future “Americans.” He loves it and it’s impossible not to get wrapped up in his enthusiasm.

Chaykin’s also downright hostile towards Wilma Deering. Buck lays it all out for her–how she and the other gangs are just playing military–and Chaykin sets up Wilma’s as both an accomplished warrior and the butt of Buck’s jokes. The way Chaykin gets in the gender equality, without ever drawing attention to it (save Buck realizing he’s biased), is nice.

Sadly, there are some art issues. There’s a whole action sequence Chaykin tells from a long shot without ever doing enough establishing, either in the narrative or the art. But that sequence comes relatively early on.

It’s a strange, fun, thoughtful comic. Chaykin’s doing well.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Howard Chaykin; colorist, Jesus Aburto; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; publisher, Hermes Press.

The Shaolin Cowboy 2 (November 2013)

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I can’t decide if Darrow’s being hostile.

This issue of The Shaolin Cowboy consists of approximately thirty-two double page (horizontal) and half page (vertical) panels of the Shaolin Cowboy fighting zombies in the desert. There’s a single page spread of him jumping to attack opening the issue.

After maybe five or six pages, I started to wonder if Darrow was going to go for the ultimate in all action issues. But it’s not an all action issue; the Cowboy’s basically just spinning around, slicing up zombies. It’s not some kind of decompressed narrative, Darrow’s not trying to tell a story here. He’s trying to show the reader some art. There’s no argument about whether the comic’s worth the cover price… based on the art, it’s more than worth it. Darrow works hard.

But he’s created something to look at, not something to read. It’s a portfolio of related illustrations.

CREDITS

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

The Rocketeer/The Spirit 3 (November 2013)

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So J. Bone takes over the art. Maybe the intention was always a different artist on each issue, but it doesn’t play particularly well. Bone does very nice homage to Eisner’s character design without being too literal.

The story’s a little weak though… definitely a little weak. Waid definitely likes the Spirit and his supporting cast, but he casts Cliff as a buffoon. Betty’s a strumpet and Cliff’s a buffoon. Until the big action sequence–the two heroes’ different fist fights juxtaposed against each other–the Rocketeer doesn’t show up. Waid’s just got Cliff running around like an ass.

It’s awkward and unpleasant. The crossover is ill-advised–the characters’ don’t sync–but Waid could have come up with something better than Cliff being a boob.

The issue reads fast and Bone has some decent moments. Otherwise, it’s getting even worse than I had expected. Waid’s dropping the ball here.

CREDITS

Pulp Friction, Part Three; writer, Mark Waid; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Rom Fajardo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Sons of Anarchy 3 (November 2013)

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Golden goes an interesting route with this issue. He takes almost the entire issue to resolve last issue’s cliffhanger–he also explains why the guy who betrays SAMCRO does so in an almost too action-packed flashback. The cliffhanger resolution’s pretty simple….

The worst thing happens. Well, maybe not the worst. But Golden doesn’t give the cast a last minute save. He lays out the foreshadowing and then he delivers on it. It changes one’s expectations of where Golden’s willing to take the comic.

He does fill in way too much exposition though. The comic’s bursting with new characters to remember–most of them are just important names, not even on page–and it’s a lot to digest. Golden simplifies it a little bit towards the end, but an exposition recap of the too much exposition seems like a bad device.

Still, it’s solid. The soft cliffhanger’s a good one.

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Golden; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inkers, Couceiro and Emilio Lecce; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Boys 65 (April 2012)

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And Ennis comes up with a huge surprise reveal–before teasing a surprise in the next issue. He doesn’t go as far with it as he could; he basically does a Brubaker. He reveals something in the characters’ history to change everything they knew and so on. He doesn’t do a full Brubaker though. I was worried he’d go too far… instead, he goes just far enough. It’s an awesome twist.

It just doesn’t make for an awesome finish. Seeing the Air Force take out the superheroes probably ought to be cooler but it’s just an expository moment. Ennis doesn’t worry about giving the reader anything to care about. It’s an odd misstep, given his experience writing war comics.

But the finish, with Butcher, isn’t particularly good either. It’s a little bit of too much in one issue and too many tricks in one issue.

Still, the big twist rocks.

CREDITS

Over the Hills With the Swords of a Thousand Men, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artists, Russ Braun, John McCrea and Keith Burns; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Drax the Destroyer 1 (November 2005)

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There’s so much sci-fi mumbo jumbo in this issue. So, so much. The first five pages or so are just Keith Giffen writing sci-fi babble for his alien characters. Then the comic starts. The sci-fi babble comes back a little later, but the comic’s strong enough it doesn’t annoy.

It’s a great setup. An intergalactic prison ship crashes on Earth (in Alaska). Will the surviving aliens come across the precious teenagers from the nearby town and will it be trouble? Of course. But Giffen writes the characters well–there’s the tough girl and the dorky guy. And the stuff with the aliens bickering… Giffen does fine with it too.

Where Drax has problems is the art. Mitch Breitweiser has a lot of problems keeping the figures consistent, not to mention the dimensions of heads. Lots of problems there. And the action’s not great.

But the writing’s strong.

CREDITS

Earthfall; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Batman 372 (June 1984)

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Moench retells Rocky with a handful of changes. Batman isn’t the biggest one, instead it’s how upfront Moench is about race. The champ’s black, the challenger is white and Moench talks about it length. It’s not just the boxers and their managers, it’s the regular people of Gotham. It’s kind of incredible.

And the majority of the issue doesn’t have anything to do with Batman. He gets something like three or five precent when Alfred’s daughter is jealous Bruce likes Vicki Vale more than her and then a little thing about Jason wearing Dr. Fang’s fake tooth.

Otherwise, the issue is about the boxers. Moench introduces three lead characters–boxers, trainer–and gives them a bunch ambitious scenes together. His conversations don’t always come off. For instance, the hardest talk about race pushes too much on honesty.

But he always tries. Moench doesn’t wimp away from the issues he’s raising.

CREDITS

What Price, the Prize?; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; letterer and inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Coffin Hill 2 (January 2014)

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I love the way Kittredge uses the narration this issue. The lead girl–Eve (I actually remember her name, not bad)–she goes home to her family’s manor. There’s a lot of good first person narration about her history with her family and so on. Then the narration cuts–as the character thinks of different events–to something relevant for the present action of the issue.

That move is probably more impressive than the rest of the issue, just because it’s sort of standard. Eve meets a guy she used to know who has become the town police chief. She’s a former cop, she starts investigating with him. Actually–while I don’t expected it and I hope not, all of a sudden Coffin Hill seems like a police procedural.

Anyway, its nice art again from Miranda; it’s genuinely creepy when it needs to be.

It isn’t great, but it’s solid.

CREDITS

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

The Boys 64 (March 2012)

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There’s so much talking. Ennis just has Butcher and Hughie standing around talking for what seems like six pages. They’re waiting at the White House for the big showdown, only there’s a secret they don’t realize–Black Noir is up to something and no one knows about it except Mother’s Milk….

And he decides to wait until next issue to tell Hughie. Why? For drama.

It’s an enjoyable issue, especially with the Voight guy giving the Homelander a speech. The speech sort of implies the superheroes are disappointing because they never do attain the comic book ideal. It’s the closest Ennis has ever gotten to anyone hoping for such a thing in this series. It’s out of place, but a good moment.

There’s some other stuff–all the dirt on the superheroes gets out–but really it’s just Ennis getting ready for the big finale.

Like I said, enjoyable stuff.

CREDITS

Over the Hills With the Swords of a Thousand Men, Part Five; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Batman: Digital Justice (1990)

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Digital Justice is an odd mix of Tron and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight. There’s a floating skateboard in it too, which must either be a really cool idea or Justice creator Pepe Moreno saw a Back to the Future II trailer.

What’s maybe strangest about the book’s failings is Moreno isn’t responsible for the biggest problem. Sure, he came up with the silly, derivative story, but he didn’t write the dialogue. The dialogue in this comic is just awful and Doug Murray gets a solo credit on it. I suppose keeping all the terminology straight–Moreno and Murray do create an extensive vocabulary–is sort of impressive.

The story has to do with Jim Gordon’s grandson becoming the new Batman. But Bruce Wayne didn’t just retire, he realized he’d need to keep Batman alive as a computer virus. Because the Joker was keeping himself alive as a computer virus.

Makes you miss the late eighties and early nineties, when computer viruses were just the coolest thing in the world. Or not.

Because other than the digital art angle, there’s nothing to do this comic. Some of the art’s not bad, as Moreno isn’t going for realism, he just going for art made on a computer. Somehow there’s enough time for Moreno to introduce a new Robin and a new Catwoman, but not enough time to make either of them decent characters. I guess DC didn’t edit him too much.

Digital Justice is definitely a curiosity, but doesn’t achieve anything more.

CREDITS

Writers, Pepe Moreno and Doug Murray; artists, Moreno and Bob Fingerman; editors, Dan Raspler and Denny O’Neil; publisher, DC Comics.

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