Miracleman 5 (January 1986)

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Really, the art’s Alan Davis? Mostly, I mean–John Ridgeway’s back to finish the flashback story–but Davis does the art on most of the issue. And it’s not good. It’s really rushed, really loose with detail. There’s definitely some decent composition, but I just thought whoever came on the art had good composition and not good detail ability.

The story mostly concerns Gargunza revealing Miracleman’s past to Liz. It’s during these parts Davis fails the script the most–Moore clearly wants Liz to have gravitas (even when she doesn’t have any real lines), but Davis doesn’t sell it. It’s too bad.

The writing gets it through. Moore’s a lot more successful with the Gargunza and Liz scenes than with Evelyn Cream. Cream’s supposed to offer a human take on Miracleman (who doesn’t do anything this issue) but Moore’s trying too hard.

It’s a bridging issue. The awesome’s just subdued.

B 

CREDITS

The Approaching Light; writer, Alan Moore; artists, Alan Davis and John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, G. George; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit 4 (December 2013)

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And there’s a nice happy ending with no resolution to any of the lame character subplots Waid brought into the series to try and give it some semblance of a story.

But apparently all Cliff needs is a Zorro mask when he’s not in flight and life’s much easier for the Rocketeer. That idea (from the Spirit) comes during an odd heart to heart the characters have. Waid just can’t figure out how to do this series and someone at IDW should have noticed long before it got to series.

There’s also the issue with Bone, who does a fine job in some ways, but just doesn’t have any interesting ideas for juxtaposing two very different visual characters and art styles. It’s The Rocketeer in something like a Spirit style, without anything going to the other way.

It almost feels like Waid’s trying to introduce the properties to younger readers.

D 

CREDITS

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

Batman 384 (June 1985)

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Hoberg and Nebres’s art is a little perplexing. The medium shots, pretty much anything with Batman, the action sequences, none of these work out. No one’s really putting in any effort. The Batman cowl, for instance, is just awful. But in the pensive close-ups of characters? All of a sudden Hoberg and Nebres are trying.

While that emphasis makes some sense–the emotional resonance of the story–it’s also a superhero comic. Dynamic action, especially with a lame villain like Calendar Man, might make all the difference.

Sadly, Hoberg’s composition–even for the panels he does try on–isn’t any good. So they’re stilted, if detailed, close-ups.

Moench awkwardly resolves a big thread (rushing to a resolution, actually), then has Alfred again pimping out his daughter to Bruce.

Another goofy part is Jason suiting up as Robin to do some computer work in the Batcave. It’s just odd.

C- 

CREDITS

Broken Dates; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Rick Hoberg; inker, Rudy Nebres; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Miracleman 4 (December 1985)

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And here’s the first mention of Miracleman as a superhero. He’s hanging out in a park, runs across a kid who’s terrified of a nuclear attack, they bond. Great scene from Moore.

Alan Davis does most of the art this issue. It’s very well composed at times, but his figures feel a little two dimensional. John Ridgeway does one of the chapters (these are still Warrior reprints) and it’s a little more effective. It might just be the content–giant magical kingdoms and vampire legions and so on.

The story moves forward a little, but Moore seems a lot more concentrated on the chapter form. Mike Moran only shows up long enough to change into Miracleman. Even Liz has more scenes without Miracleman (or Mike) than with.

It’s still fantastic stuff. It’s just Moore’s writer fingerprints are showing up. He’s artificial with the plotting and pacing. It isn’t organically growing.

A- 

CREDITS

Catgames; writer, Alan Moore; artists, Alan Davis and John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, G. George; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Justice League 3000 1 (February 2014)

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Being insincere and not funny are two things Justice League 3000 can’t handle. It’s a dumb idea–in the future, the Wonder Twins clone the Justice League so they can save the galaxy. Only there are problems. For example, Superman is a lot like the Giffen/DeMatteis Guy Gardner, only with some Ultimate Captain America thrown in. He and Batman threaten to kill each other every few panels. Then Batman quips about kryptonite.

3000 isn’t just not funny, it’s desperately not funny.

Keith Giffen gets a plotting credit, so he isn’t as responsible as J.M. DeMatteis, who scripts this terrible dialogue. He’s trying to surprise with the clones, which just makes things worse. Except not as bad as the Wonder Twins banter. Nothing is as bad as the Wonder Twins banter.

The Howard Porter art doesn’t fit the story and isn’t an original future design; clearly no one cares.

F 

CREDITS

Yesterday Lives!; writers, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Howard Porter; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 550 (May 1985)

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Moench goes a little too high concept for this one, especially since Broderick isn’t really the artist to do a protracted chase sequence.

A small-time thug runs across the rooftops, Batman in close pursuit, and Moench flashes back to all the things in his life to bring the thug to this point. It’s a little contrived, but it’s definitely ambitious. So when Moench actually brings damnation into the picture–the guy, it turns out, has robbed a church and attacked a nun–it’s just too much.

It doesn’t help Broderick eventually gives up and is practically drawing this story comical. There are a couple Batman cowl shots I was surprised Smith didn’t fix, but maybe he’d given up too.

Then the Green Arrow resolution is odd. Moore doesn’t write too much (or enough). It’s a decent enough action story, with lots of mood from Janson but not good detail.

D 

CREDITS

The Spider’s Ninth Leg!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Night Olympics, Part Two; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 23 (November 1984)

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Herb Trimpe’s writing is far better than his first art issue and his writing isn’t good at all. It’s just not downright bad. The art is bad and incompetent–though I guess Trimpe does try a couple things as far as panel composition. They’re simplistic and unoriginal, but they do show off the only times Trimpe tries hard with any aspect of the art.

The writing, both dialogue and story, is simply lame. Trimpe seems to enjoy the character and setting (based on callbacks to Raiders and time period details) but he doesn’t know what to do with them.

The plot’s stupefying. Indy becomes a stunt man to do a high dive on an uncharted Pacific Island. The Hollywood director actually talks about how cheap it will be to travel past Hawaii for one shot… Okay, he doesn’t say Hawaii but still.

It’s a bad comic, harmless enough but bad.

D 

CREDITS

The Secret of the Deep; writer and artist, Herb Trimpe; colorist, Robbie Carosella; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Eliot Brown; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Prophet 41 (December 2013)

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Wait… Did I really read the whole thing? It feels like there should be more. Graham and Roy are back to splitting the issue between new and old John Prophet–though here it’s mostly the sidekicks of the Newfather and not much for the old John’s team–and nothing gets resolved.

Even the cliffhanger is goofy, bringing in a new threat in the last couple pages and then the comic just stops.

Then comes Ron Ackins strange back-up about a black cop defending a city in the future where some African nation has built a new civilization for African Americans. Ackins can’t write–for the first two pages, I thought it was an ad for a music group–and he doesn’t draw well either.

Like I said, it’s an awkward issue. Even in the feature, Graham and Roy rush through their character moments, which they usually spend time on.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Giannis Milonogiannis, Roy, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward; colorists, Joseph Bergin III, Sheean and Ward; letterer, Ed Brisson. Lancaster Bleu; writer and artist, Rob Ackins. Publisher, Image Comics.

Batman 383 (May 1985)

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After my many complaints Moench never writes Bruce Wayne at length (and sensible, as he did write him at length and ludicrous during the Jason Todd adoption thing), he dedicates an entire issue to Bruce.

It’s a day in the life and it’s a comedy. There are angry women, parent-teacher conferences, buffoonish builders, not to mention the eventual street thugs. All the while, Bruce just wants to get some sleep.

It’s not rocket science and it’s often contrived, but contrived is kind of the point. It’s a funny enough concept and Moench executes it quite well. I’m just shocked how much fun he makes of Batman and Bruce Wayne. It’s humorous, yes, but it also suggests the character is often acting out of sleep deprivation rather than intelligent thought.

Gene Colan is an odd penciller to do light comedy but it works out.

Batman as sitcom… Thankfully sans camp.

B 

CREDITS

Just As Night Follows Day…; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterers, Ben Oda and Albert De Guzman; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Miracleman 3 (November 1985)

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It’s a nice issue, sort of finishing out the main questions about Miracleman–how can a fifties-type superhero actually have existed in the modern world Moore operates the series in. The answer is predictable, but Moore’s presentation of the explanation is good.

The setup for the reveal, including a fight with another super-powered individual, cuts between the cast members. Even though Liz doesn’t get any scenes with Mike (or Miracleman), she does get one of the interludes. Moore isn’t forgetting anyone and he’s working to get into as many of the characters’ heads as possible. It’s a nice little moment and a surprise success as the characters aren’t definitively established yet.

Then Moore tells the reveal from the villain’s (narrating) perspective. Moore does raise a couple question he doesn’t answer yet–calling Miracleman a “monster,” for example–but it’s a big success.

Even if Davis is no Leach.

B+ 

CREDITS

Out of the Dark; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Alan Davis; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, G. George; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Detective Comics 549 (April 1985)

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It’s a nice issue overall.

The feature has Moench, Broderick and Smith doing a Harvey Bullock issue. Moench plays it mostly for laughs, then goes deeper–showing the “real” Bullock–and then giving him a difficult conflict to resolve.

And manages to get in a big fight scene for him and Batman (teaming up against thugs, not against each other). Moench does well with the regular life stuff in Gotham City. It’s a relief not to have to get through his odd Bruce stuff.

But the real kicker is the Green Arrow backup from “guest” writer Alan Moore. I put “guest” in quotation marks because it doesn’t resemble the Cavalieri stories. Actually, the discussion of regular life calls back to the feature.

It’s just Ollie and Dinah out on patrol, with great art from Klaus Janson, and some setup of the story arc’s villain. Moore comes up with excellent stuff.

B+ 

CREDITS

Doctor Harvey and Mr. Bullock; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Night Olympics, Part One; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Doc Savage 1 (December 2013)

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Chris Roberson seems to love Doc Savage. His enthusiasm for the concept, the thirties setting and the characters makes this issue work. He just doesn’t necessarily write a comic for readers who aren’t just as enthusiastic about Doc Savage. And I imagine it’d be hard to find anyone enthusiastic enough.

There’s nothing new about this series. Roberson manages to make nods toward the characters Savage has influenced but nods aren’t enough for an issue, much less a series.

Bilquis Evely’s art is okay, but it too lacks anything particular. It’s a straightforward rendering of 1933 New York City. It’s occasionally very nice looking (mostly with the buildings, though one or two action panels), but the style is too vanilla. Savage needs some teeth, otherwise it comes off too pat.

Roberson employs a laid back narration, which is interesting and different. Sadly, he’s writing narration of mediocre story. Where’s the beef?

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Chris Roberson; artist, Bilquis Evely; colorist, Daniela Miwa; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Molly Mahan and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Miracleman 2 (October 1985)

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And here’s a great cliffhanger. Again, Moore’s not plotting these stories for a full issue, but it shakes out very nicely this issue.

Miracleman is an odd comic. Moore runs headstrong into the relationship problems between Mike and Liz, he deals with Mike’s strange duality with Miracleman–the way Mike’s able to talk about Miracleman’s rather purple narration is fantastic. Moore presents the tropes of superhero comic books and then integrate a discussion of them into the comic.

There’s also the villain this issue. I can’t remember his name, but he’s a big black guy with funny sapphire teeth–Evelyn Cream (thanks, Internet). Leave it to Moore to make a bad Bond henchman into a great comic book villain.

There’s a lot in each story, the composition, the newly fertile relationship between Mike and the world… it’s a crazy good comic. And these were just shorts when originally published; incredible.

A 

CREDITS

When Gods Cry War…; writer, Alan Moore; artists, Garry Leach and Alan Davis; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, G. George; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Manifest Destiny 2 (December 2013)

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It’s a mix of an action issue and a (fake) science issue. Lewis and Clark try to figure out the creature they’ve discovered–with some great notes about its physiology–before the buildup to the action sequence begins.

And I’ve got to get it out of the way–the cliffhanger, which hinges entirely on the zombie zeitgeist and the reader’s familiarity with it, works. It’s incredibly creepy thanks to Roberts’s art. I’m sure Dingess will have a good explanation for it–he sort of hints at one earlier in the issue–but the cliffhanger’s effective. Even if it’s a zombie.

The issue’s just all around good. Roberts handles the panicked conversation scenes as well as he does the chase through the forest. He and Dingess aren’t playing with a familiar drama; the Lewis and Clark era of American exploration only gets play every fifteen years or so.

Destiny’s working well.

CREDITS

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

Batman 382 (April 1985)

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Editor Len Wein really should have sent this one back to the oven. First off, there’s the art from Rick Hoberg and Rudy Nebres. It’s awful. The figures are too static, the settings are too slight. Especially given Moench does a whole hostage airplane storyline–the art fails it every step of the way.

Except when Julia and Vicki stand around looking dumbfounded. Those panels are kind of funny.

Then there’s Moench. Moench tries to do a Batman and Catwoman star-crossed lovers story and he fails miserably. The dialogue’s stilted and rushed, the characters don’t act with any decent motivation. When he gets to the ending, which the artists screw up too, it’s hard not to roll one’s eyes. He goes for a big revelation about the relationship but he had a more honest moment in a brief comment from Gordon.

Not a good comic book, not at all.

D- 

CREDITS

The Vengeance Spiral; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Rick Hoberg; inker, Rudy Nebres; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Miracleman 1 (August 1985)

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There’s something magnificent about the way Alan Moore starts Miracleman. Of course, given the issue is a compilation of shorts from Warrior, it must have been even better to read them in that series.

He opens with a retro superhero comic strip, full of fifties silliness and plays it through to the end of the adventure. Gleeful superheroing. When he comes back to it later, with Mike Moran telling his disbelieving wife about it, Moore’s got the reader buying into it. Moran gets full understanding and sympathy because the reader’s been there.

Nicely, Alan Davis does the retro story fifties style and Garry Leach’s art for the modern day is done hyper-realistic. Even the lettering’s nearly type.

Besides an outstanding action sequence–Leach and Moore do a lot in these stories–there’s the quiet scenes with the wife. It’s an awesome issue. Even if the cliffhanger’s too artificial.

A 

CREDITS

Rebirth; writer, Alan Moore; pencillers, Alan Davis and Garry Leach; inker, Leach; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, G. George; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Velvet 2 (December 2013)

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I like this issue a lot more; I couldn’t figure out for a while, then I realized… it’s basically a lengthy Steve Epting action sequence. Velvet escapes, runs, escapes again. Brubaker juxtaposes her story against some guys at her agency talking about her. It’s great, fast but filling.

The only parts giving me pause are some of the stylistic choices for flashbacks and then the fictional super spy agency. Maybe for Epting to keep his schedule, the flashbacks, which took up at least two pages and showed single panels of Velvet’s illustrious career, are necessary. But they bring the issue to a screeching halt.

Second, the spy agency. It’s really made-up and leaves Brubaker open to do almost anything. He could hide aliens down the line in this thing. It gives the series a fake feel, while Epting does everything but convey that sense.

Still, it’s a good comic.

B+ 

CREDITS

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

Detective Comics 548 (March 1985)

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So Moench finds an interesting way to move past all the Jason Todd adoption stuff. He forgets about it. Oh, he mentions it a bunch, especially in the opening scene with Jason eating a snack in the kitchen with Bruce and Alfred. But the character relationships are all different now. There’s banter, there’s teasing Batman about his love life. Maybe Moench decided things had to change with Pat Broderick coming on as the penciller.

And Broderick does a fun job. His figures are sometimes off, but he’s got lots of enthusiasm, lots of energy. His expressions are fantastic too. He and Moench are playing it all a little tongue in cheek, which doesn’t work for Vicki and Julia (or Alfred talking about his daughter as an easy catch for Bruce), but it’s definitely amusing.

As for the Green Arrow backup… Cavalieri gets in a couple good twists. Nice art too.

B 

CREDITS

Beasts A-Prowl; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Clash Reunion III: Vengeance is Mine!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Ben Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Maze Agency 3 (January 2006)

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It’s too bad the last issue of IDW’s Maze relaunch is easily the best. The problems still remain–Padilla is a boring artist who doesn’t bring any personality to anything, not characters, not setting. Forget about ominous mood. And Barr is still writing this comic like it’s the eighties, which might have been the last time someone could have done a fugu fish related story without mentioning “The Simpsons.”

He doesn’t mention the show and it seems like an odd oversight.

There are too many suspects–nine–but the pace of the issue is good and the investigation engages. Barr doesn’t spend much time on his protagonists, except some bickering and cuddling (Padilla can’t do either). The scene where Jennifer mentions being exceptionally wealthy doesn’t play out well here. In fact, it just reminds of better, original series Maze.

Still, it’s nice this Maze goes out on a relative high.

C+ 

CREDITS

One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Doomfish; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Ariel Padilla; inker, Jason Paz; colorist, Rain Beredo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Dan Taylor; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Clown Fatale 2 (December 2013)

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This issue of Clown, Gischler goes for out and out absurd, profoundly sad and some other things. It’s a joy to read, even if the sad moments drag in some reality. Gischler’s not willing to write off the series as fluff; he’s trying to give it some actual content. Except that content is never as good as the funny stuff.

The big fight scene at the end of the issue, involving Russian assassins masquerading as a circus knife throwing troupe, a gorilla, a lion, how is it not going to be funny. The least funny thing, for the most part, are the clown fatales. The crazy one–whose name either didn’t get mentioned this issue or just doesn’t matter–is Gischler’s go to for comic relief. She works real well.

The other characters… Well, Gischler makes a show of developing them, but he’s not trying too hard.

Clown’s crazy pulp.

B 

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.

Batman 381 (March 1985)

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Moench neatly ties everything together–including Bruce setting up Nocturna for an unnecessary fall–and it’s hard to remember why any of the threads are important at all. They weren’t important to the characters, except Nocturna (and maybe Alfred); Moench’s frantic pace keeps the issue engaging but it’s not fulfilling in any way.

Then there’s the matter of the art. Hoberg’s back and he’s better than the previous issue but he’s far from good. It’s a strange situation–does the story deserve better art… would it read better with better art or has Moench exhausted the comic too much.

It’s hard to say for sure at this point–Hoberg’s only done two issues and Moench is finishing up a somewhat lengthy arc–but all hints are to the latter. Moench’s melodramatic antics just obscure his lack of ideas for the characters to develop.

Batman’s getting to be a tedious bore.

C- 

CREDITS

Darkly Moved the Pawns; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Rick Hoberg; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Maze Agency 2 (December 2005)

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It’s a beauty pageant mystery–with Jennifer oddly chosen as one of the judges (are detective agency owners really such community figures)–and I’m surprised Barr hasn’t already done this one.

All of the previous issue’s problems are here, Padilla’s lack of personality, the rendering of the leads as twenty-somethings off “Buffy” (which might just be an IDW thing), but there’s another problem in the mix….

Barr tries too hard on the banter. Instead of actually talking, Gabe and Jennifer exchange quips. Barr’s got a real problem with a revival series–appeal to the existing fan base while being accessible to new readers. Only his existing fan base is from the eighties; it’s impressive he was able to mount a revival almost twenty years later, but comics readership might have changed too much. Or maybe he shouldn’t have tried for bland.

A compelling mystery would have helped a lot.

D 

CREDITS

A Beautiful Crime; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Ariel Padilla; inker, Ernest Jocson; colorist, Romulo Fajardo Jr.; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Dan Taylor; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Coffin Hill 3 (February 2014)

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It’s getting bad how often the art is falling off after the first issue or two in Vertigo series now. Coffin Hill falls victim to the same thing. Miranda is letting the colorist do way too much shading on the faces and also getting way too loose on the lines. It’s occasionally an ugly comic to read. It should be unpleasant, it’s a horror book, but it should never be ugly.

As for the story, Kittredge does okay, not great. There’s a lot of new characters and a lot more setup of the plot. It feels jumbled and hurried, especially how Eve does the investigating. Kittredge wastes pages too, with romance and family stuff. She goes for big events to make people memorable as opposed to gradually introducing things for later on.

If the art gets any worse, Kittredge might not be able to save the series. It’s too bad.

C 

CREDITS

A Fitting Grave; writer, Caitlin Kittredge; artist, Inaki Miranda; colorist, Eva De La Cruz; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Sara Miller and Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

Detective Comics 547 (February 1985)

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Moench partially redeems his amnesia storyline this issue with the suggestion it’s not going to go on for too long. He also does some decent work teaming up Robin and Nocturna, which he doesn’t play out as well as he could–is it really any odder to have a woman and her ward fighting crime than Batman and his ward?

Eventually it goes bad, with Moench falling back on Jason’s cruelty (the kid really hasn’t got any depth), but for a few pages it works out all right.

Plus, the art from Pat Broderick and Klaus Janson is good. They keep the story moving and put in a lot of mood. Moench has a lot of scenes; each supporting cast member gets some attention. He’s rushing but it’s fine.

Then the Green Arrow involves a Vietnam vet strong-arming Vietnamese businesses in the states. Goofy dialogue, but good mainstream art.

C+ 

CREDITS

Cast of Characters, Sequence of Events; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, Clash Reunion II: Most Likely to Die!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Maze Agency 1 (November 2005)

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And The Maze Agency is back again, with Mike W. Barr still writing, of course, but with a fresh new look. Ariel Padilla and Ernest Jocson update the protagonists for the oughts and, wow, are they bland. Padilla tries straight good girl with Jennifer and it doesn’t work. As for Gabe… he looks more like an early twenties male model than a struggling mystery writer.

Yeah, I suppose the ages are the problem. The characters look way too young. There’s also no toughness in Padilla and Jocson’s New York City. It’s post-Guilliani and absent any personality

One last thing on the art. Padilla’s layouts aren’t bad, they just don’t lend to the mystery. Barr’s murder mystery has a lead-in establishing the protagonists and an absurd appearance by the FBI long before the actual suspects show up.

This Maze is without any distinguishing characteristics at all. It’s uniformly undercooked.

C- 

CREDITS

The Crimes, They Are a-Changin’; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Ariel Padilla; inker, Ernest Jocson; colorist, Rainier Beredo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Dan Taylor; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Dead Body Road 1 (December 2013)

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Dead Body Road has a real nice feel to it. This issue has a mix of nostalgic to the thirties and forties with nostalgic to the seventies. There’s one scene straight out of Mad Max, even though Road is apparently set in the modern day.

The story is simple–there’s one confusing character as Justin Jordan sets up a subplot–but otherwise it’s simple. Jordan’s dialogue is weak at times, but it eventually either gets better or it doesn’t matter because the car chase is just an awesome sequence.

Matteo Scalera’s art doesn’t leave any room for humor in Road but he doesn’t play up the downbeat nature either. It feels like a tough action story, but one with room to noir elements along. The issue doesn’t even have a well-paced finish, just a final couple panels, but Jordan and Scalera are able to the issue coast along nicely.

CREDITS

Writer, Justin Jordan; artist, Matteo Scalera; colorist, Moreno Dinisio; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Batman 380 (February 1985)

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What an odd turn of events. One can’t help but note Moench is following a number of story beats–corrupt politician, villain masquerading as Batman–Gerry Conway did immediately prior in his lengthy run, not to mention other writers before them.

Rick Hoberg takes over the pencils for the issue (just this one, I hope) and he makes things feel very generic, very superhero. Moench tries character scenes for Jason and Nocturna, which doesn’t work out too well with the pencils, and the mind-bending scenes are just silly.

Moench also has a real problem with the villain, the Night-slayer–he’s a lousy villain. Facing off against Dr. Fang, Moench’s problems with lame villains is just too obvious. Plus, all the events hinge on not just Nocturna being incapable, but Jason and Batman too.

Without a good penciller, Moench’s weaknesses are just too much. The issue can’t overcome them.

CREDITS

End of the Bat; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Rick Hoberg; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 22 (October 1984)

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The art, from Joe Brozowski and Mel Candido, isn’t great or even good (occasional weird background details break the perspective), but it’s generally competent. And generally competent for this issue isn’t bad.

Priest continues to play fast and loose with the characters. Indy’s sentiments towards Marion are this odd annoyance thing. I think Priest is trying to show he likes her so he has to pester her, which suggests Priest hadn’t been reading the comic until this point. Or maybe the LucasFilms contact told them to tone down the romantic stuff.

This issue’s adventure wraps up Priest’s tedious first arc on the series, involving Marcus Brody, action hero, trying to save his career. Priest can’t write Indy as having a villain.

Wait, I can’t believe I ignored the weirdest part. Priest writes this stoic, virtuous Nazi secret agent out to assassinate Jones. It’s really weird stuff. Not good, definitely interesting.

Priest is also really bad with the setting. He writes too modern.

CREDITS

End Run; writers, David Michelinie and Christopher Priest; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inker, Mel Candido; colorist, Robbie Carosella; letterer, Diana Albers; editor, Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Star Wars 4 (December 2013)

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Mayhew has some fantastic panels this issue. Unfortunately, Rinzler has the single goofiest moment in the history of George Lucas goofy moments to try to pull off and he can’t do it. Mayhew even makes it worse somehow. He goes with this grand panel and then follows it up with a little normal one, like the event is immediately pedestrian.

It’s too bad, because besides forgetting about Leia as a character for almost the entire thing–Rinzler also downgrades Annikin’s presence too much, but not near as bad–it’s a fairly good issue. Rinzler gets a very strange, almost comedic moment out of the last panel, something very non-Star Wars. This issue might be the first where it feels like something other than an adaptation.

There’s also this ambitious–and not entirely successful–juxtaposition of the Imperials torturing prisoners, but at least Mayhew and Rinzler are trying for something.

CREDITS

Writer, J.W. Rinzler; artist, Mike Mayhew; colorist, Rain Beredo; letterer, Michael Heisler; editors, Freddye Lins and Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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