Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams 1 (June 1987)

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I feel like A Terror of Dying Dreams should be a little better. Gene Colan does the art–just pencils, no inks; it’s good art but Don McGregor’s script doesn’t just play to Colan’s strengths, it plays to his standards. Inexplicably enormous scary mansion in the New York area? Check. Urban blight? Check. Even the one fight scene looks like every Colan fight scene.

There’s some reality to those sequences usually absent from Colan’s mainstream work. The fight scene is a social worker fighting back against an abusive husband who’s targeting her. The urban blight is one of the leads, Rainier, hanging around at nudie bars on Broadway. McGregor’s trying hard to update the miserable detective but doesn’t have much for him to do.

The other lead, Denning, is dealing with his mother’s illness. Those scenes are beautifully written, but Colan’s out of his element on them.

Still, ambitious stuff.

B 

CREDITS

Cheerful Lies and Desperate Truths; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; letterer, Mindy Eisman; editor, Catherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Revenge 1 (February 2014)

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Ah, redemption. Jonathan Ross wimps out with Revenge, instead letting Ian Churchill’s gross-out art do the dirty work.

The concept is a seventies action star who gets his comeback thanks to an Expendables like hit when he’s seventy-two. His trophy wife convinces him to get an experimental facelift, but she really wants to torture him because when she was a kid he seduced her mother away from her father.

Sounds like our protagonist is a bad guy, but no… he donates money to his daughter’s zoo and she knows he’s turned the corner into goodness. And the wife isn’t just doing it to be evil, she really wants his money.

With the lifeless Churchill art and its lack of personality–the comic, besides the gore, looks like action figure packaging–Revenge was never going to soar, but it’s unfortunate Ross isn’t committed to the meanness. Exploitation it ain’t.

D 

CREDITS

Writer, Jonathan Ross; artist, Ian Churchill; colorists, Arif Prianto and Churchill; letterers, Jimmy Betancourt and Richard Starkings; publisher, Image Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 44 (October 2002)

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Jones does a familiar ruse but then explains the whole bit, which makes it a lot better than not. His secret organization after Banner is still a tad too Bond and a tad too much. But it’s definitely an amusing issue; he just needs to make Bruce half as interesting as any of the other characters. Even the villain gets to sweat this time.

Oh, and he needs to own his cliffhanger resolutions. One of them gets a followup and Jones dismisses the mystery of it in a matter-of-fact way. While it’s matter-of-fact for the characters, Jones is writing for the reader, isn’t he?

No. No, he’s not. That lack of interest in how the reader perceives things is Jones’s greatest strength and weakness on Hulk. Well, one of his weaknesses–Bruce’s too passive a main character.

Very nice Stuart Immonen art too. The comic entertains.

B- 

CREDITS

Now You See It; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Studio F; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye 15 (April 2014)

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How stupid can Clint get? Thanks to Aja’s page layouts, it’s hard to tell. The art’s beautiful, but the way Aja does flashes–rapidly cut comics–it’s unclear if he was really dumb or if the bad guy was just good. Fraction wants the reader to think Clint’s dumb, to make him lovable. That arrangement is strange–it means the reader can’t truly root for the protagonist.

This issue also has a fairly big Big Lebowski vibe thanks to Clint’s brother hanging around. It’s more Lebowksi than “Rockford.” It needs to be the other way around. Fraction’s got three guest stars popping in to tell Clint he’s stupid. Too many.

Otherwise, of course, the issue’s a delightful read. Fraction has a great pace, great twists, great everything. He can’t visualize the story through his protagonist’s perspective. It also could be the incredibly fractured narrative.

Fraction’s hit the ceiling with Clint.

B 

CREDITS

Fun and Games; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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