The Legend of Wonder Woman 3 (July 1986)

The Legend of Wonder Woman #3

Someone–Busiek or Robbins or both of them–came up with the structure of this series and all of a sudden it becomes clear this issue and it’s fantastic.

Legend goes from being a nice homage series to something wholly original. Unless the old Wonder Woman comics are as well-plotted, in which case they don’t get enough credit.

Busiek works up the revolt angle, with Wonder Woman starting imprisoned then getting free and fighting alongside Steve Trevor. There’s some wacky fake, but very amusing, atomic science in here too, but then comes the big moment. Busiek and Robbins work towards what should be a rewarding, if all action finish and then go past it.

But if they’re padding for a fourth issue, it never feels like it. The characters, their decisions, all make sense. Busiek does a great job with Steve Trevor too.

Awesome work with the brat too.

A- 

CREDITS

Inside the Atom Galaxy; writers, Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek; artist, Robbins; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

Hawkeye 18 (May 2014)

Hawkeye #18

Fraction gets some kudos for getting tough on Kate in L.A., but then he goes and does two really annoying things. First, he sets up Kate’s latest case as a way to get her back to New York and teamed up with Clint. It’s contrived. Second, the hard cliffhanger requires Kate be unaware of her surroundings. She’d probably be long dead if she were so unaware.

Otherwise, it’s an excellent issue. Kate gets herself into another bunch of trouble, this time investigating an acquaintance’s past. There’s some good flashback stuff, giving the reader a look at Wu doing nineties period stuff and “realistic” supervillains.

The art’s quite good the entire issue. Even though not much happens–it’s really just Kate investigating most of the time–Wu keeps things moving along.

Sadly, Fraction seems hell-bent on running this series to exhaustion. This issue might be the first Kate issue not to be amazing.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Annie Wu; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 65 (March 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #65

Here’s the thing. If Jones had structured this series better, been less concerned with diversions like the Absorbing Man, he might have been able to do a fantastic storyline regarding the Banner, the bunnies, Doc Samson, the evil conspiracy. It would have worked. The issue works to some degree just because Jones lets the characters all feel the weight of what’s occurring.

Terrible Deodato art. His page composition, not panel composition, but his page by page layouts of panels is atrocious.

Even though this issue’s a big wrap up–hopefully Jones will soft boot the title next issue–there’s a lot of good action sequences. There’s Samson and the bunnies going into the base, there’s Nadia and Bruce Banner. Jones is very deliberate about how he pulls one over on the reader, but it’s kind of all right. He’s doing the same thing to his characters.

Shame about the art.

B- 

CREDITS

Split Decisions, Part Six: Double Exposure; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Rocky and Bullwinkle 1 (March 2014)

Rocky & Bullwinkle #1

I can’t decide if Rocky & Bullwinkle should or shouldn’t work as a comic book. Conceptually, I mean. I suppose I should mention it does work–and very well. Writer Mark Evanier and artist Roger Langridge adapt the source material’s sensibilities for the comics medium, which is exactly the way to go about adapting a property from another medium… yet so few ever do it.

The all-knowing narrator works well in exposition boxes; Evanier ups it with Bullwinkle becoming psychic. His predictions interact both with the narrative and how Langridge illustrates that narrative. Very cool stuff.

As for Langridge, I notice he’s working in a lot of simple, but intricate background activity. He’s keeping the reader’s eyes consuming even when the principals aren’t doing a lot.

And then there’s the Dudley Do-Right intermediate story. Evanier sets it up as a series of really funny, somewhat inappropriate jokes.

It’s an excellent comic.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Evanier; artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Jeremy Colwell; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Legend of Wonder Woman 2 (June 1986)

The Legend of Wonder Woman #2

Right after I say Robbins doesn’t spend a lot of time on backgrounds… she spends a lot of time on backgrounds this issue. The difference is the setting. It’s a fantastical hidden city, not Washington D.C.–and, during the action sequence, the backgrounds do still fade away. So my observation seems about half right.

There are lots of developments this issue. The little brat sidekick becomes a good character–or a better one and not just comic relief–and Steve Trevor stages a revolt in the atomic world. Busiek does a great job applying real emotion to the outlandish situations, not just with Trevor but with how the hidden city invasion plays out.

The way Busiek and Robbins introduce the hidden city is cool too. They split Wonder Woman and the sidekick to cover more ground, but both threads inform the other.

The adventure seems slight, but the creators’ imaginativeness keep things going.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Land of Mirrors; writers, Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek; artist, Robbins; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

Satellite Sam 7 (March 2014)

Satellite Sam #7

Fraction's doing less of an arc than a window into Mike–as in the new Satellite Sam–and his descent into obsession. It's funny, but I think Fraction's still trying to get keep the character as likable as possible. He's just over his head, trying to relieve his father's photography fetish.

There are the subplots going too, of course. There's a great one with the disgraced writer on his way out and then the troubles of a new show going on. Not to mention a flashback to the original Satellite Sam and how he conducted himself, drafting a girl Friday who tracks down Mike for something here.

The comic opens with the series's most explicit moment (so far). Chaykin choreographs it perfectly. There's some great stuff from long distance profile later one too. I love how Chaykin makes the comic about classic TV feel like classic TV with panel composition.

Awesome issue.

A 

CREDITS

Exposure; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 64 (February 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #64

Oh, good grief. When Deodato goes for artistic it’s a really bad page. Also when he goes for Hulk action. Hulk rips open a mountain. Is it any good? Nope, it’s boring.

But the issue is otherwise not bad at all. Between the Hulk smashing the evil organization, which brings those two parts of the arc together, and Doc Samson and his bunnies–Sandra, Mr. Blue (nope, not spoiling because it doesn’t matter yet) and Nadia–fighting the mean little monsters. It’s effective stuff, the people in crisis, out of bullets. Not sure why the women had to take off their clothes but Jones is maybe trying to tell the reader Doc Samson shouldn’t be trusted.

Then there’s the cliffhanger. Jones has always had problems with his big hook for the series. The cliffhanger just reestablishes the hook and the problem.

The series is slowly improving, even with its problems.

C 

CREDITS

Split Decisions, Part Five: Deja Vu; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Fatale 21 (March 2014)

Fatale #21

This issue, while obviously winding up to the big finish, is a bit of return to form. Brubaker takes the time to introduce a new character–one impervious to Jo's charms–and he's a nice addition. There's some levity amidst Jo's preparations.

Speaking of Jo's preparations, Brubaker does go too far with a reveal in the last page or two. He makes Jo do something incredibly dumb. After showing her to be plotting and careful, she goofs. It doesn't work.

But Jo's really back to being the mysterious femme fatale this issue. Nicolas is the protagonist, meeting Jo's sidekick, trying to figure out what's going on with her–he hasn't been the protagonist for a long, long time. And the series is only twenty-one issues in and the guy feels foreign to the captain's chair.

It's an outstanding issue; still, it also shows how reductive Brubaker's being with the series's many intermediary details.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

The Legend of Wonder Woman 1 (May 1986)

The Legend of Wonder Woman #1

How far can unbridled enthusiasm take something? Well, if The Legend of Wonder Woman is any indication, unbridled enthusiasm can go a very long way.

Kurt Busiek and Trina Robbins have the task of saying farewell to the pre-Crisis Wonder Woman. It opens in the present, so having Robbins’s Golden Age-inspired art showing modern events immediately forces the reader to adjust. For example, Robbins doesn’t spend a lot of time on backgrounds in action shots; her style forces the reader to pay attention to the establishing shots.

But those panels aren’t empty. There are often a lot of people reacting. The time Robbins didn’t spend on detailed backgrounds goes into the background cast.

The story itself is complicated pretending to be cute. Busiek concentrates quite a bit on character (Wonder Woman, the villain, Wonder Woman’s nasty little kid sidekick) before the big monster attack finish.

The abrupt ending’s problematic though.

B 

CREDITS

Legends Live Forever; writers, Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek; artist, Robbins; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

Furious 3 (March 2014)

Furious #3

Glass doesn’t let up this issue. He makes things so intense, the previous issue’s cliffhanger is forgotten until this issue’s cliffhanger, which is similarly themed. The one problematic thing about Furious is how much Glass is hinging on the resolution to the Cadence Lark question.

Based on this issue, which features Furious fighting a serial killer who’s out to rid the world of women, Glass will probably do fine. This issue’s hard, mean and still somewhat positive. The fight’s convincing not just in the blow by blow, but how Furious develops through it.

Santos’s style–violent but appealing–is perfect for this issue too. The fight against the serial killer has to be uncomfortable, but equally balanced between concern for Furious as she gets assaulted and concern for how much the violence she visits on the villain as it psychologically tears at her.

A page-turner to say the least.

A- 

CREDITS

Fallen Star, Part Three, Blaze of Glory; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Spencer Cushing and Jim Gibbons; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 63 (January 2004)

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I guess this issue’s an improvement; the series is so far along at this point it’s hard to tell. But the banter between characters goes away a little. Doc Samson and Sandra (she’s the regenerating spy who started out Jones’s run or somewhere towards the beginning) don’t have any banter. It’s just Mr. Blue and Nadia. Jones again feels the need to turn every female character into an action hero. They aren’t heroes in the moment, they’ve had training. It’s ludicrous.

The comic sort of feels like Jones wanted to do some kind of espionage thriller and married it to Hulk. This issue, though the Hulk’s in the comic far more than usual–even for Hulk issues–he’s just a sideshow attraction. The real story is the giant conspiracy.

It’s boring to read a comic without a main character. Especially a comic called The Incredible Hulk.

Still, the cliffhanger’s not half bad.

C 

CREDITS

Split Decisions, Part Four: Blue Moon; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine 5 (March 2014)

Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine #5

I guess the sidekick hero’s name should have been a hint.

It’s a good issue. Real violent, real mean at times. Jolley even manages to get past the sidekick hero being really, really convenient. And he’s got a silly outfit. Even if it makes sense in the context of his powers, it’s silly. Looks like something out of the early nineties.

But back to the comic itself, specifically as the last issue of this limited series. It’s kind of like the last Bloodhound ever. Jolley went and did everything he could to depress the reader, but also to close off the character’s existing story lines. Clev hasn’t got anything left. He’s battered to a pulp, he’s out of favor with the FBI boss–which needed more explaining, since he just saved the guy.

It’s a downer. But it also does provide appropriate closure. I just hope it’s not permanent closure.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Robin Riggs; colorists, Moose Baumann and Wes Dzioba; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Ian Tucker and Brendan Wright; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Lois Lane 2 (September 1986)

Lois Lane #2

Newell figures out how to manage the issue better this time–there’s still the informative scenes, a particularly one where Lois goes to a home for runaways–but they feel more natural. The plotting of the comic, which is somewhat confusing just because Lois isn’t a rational protagonist, is fantastic.

There are a lot of subplots–Lucy, Lana, the detective, the rest of the staff at the Planet. While Lois doesn’t have time for them (about the only place where the issue falters is when Lois realizes how isolated she’s become), Newell takes the time. She shows how they’re reacting not just to the distance from Lois, but from their proximity to the events she’s covering.

And then there’s Clark. While a Superman “family” comic, there’s no Superman (something Newell undoubtedly wanted, given the seriousness of the story), but she still gets in the complicated relationship between Lois and Clark.

It’s excellent work.

A- 

CREDITS

When It Rains, God is Crying; writer, Mindy Newell; artist, Gray Morrow; colorist, Joe Orlando; letterer, Agustin Mas; editor, Robert Greenberger; publisher, DC Comics.

A Voice in the Dark 5 (March 2014)

A Voice in the Dark #5

It’s a talking heads issue. Conversation after conversation after conversation. Not in a bad way, as Taylor does develop characters and flesh out the situations in the conversations. There’s a very good banter element, especially with the protagonist and her uncle. Taylor gets into college-related minutiae then goes directly into serial killer stuff.

There’s still the opening frame with the protagonist cleaning up after killing someone–Taylor doesn’t worry about action shots. There’s some implied violence this issue, but he’s comfortable just having the violence talked about. The more riveting parts of Voice come from how Taylor structures his issues. There’s a cliffhanger this time around, but it’s a soft one and not the most interesting of the last few pages’ revelations.

The art is solid. Again, Taylor is only really doing talking heads. He keeps the conversations visually compelling.

The delayed narrative gratification better be worth it though.

B 

CREDITS

Killing Game, Part Three; writer, artist and letterer, Larime Taylor; publisher, Image Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 62 (December 2003)

The Incredible Hulk #62

I can’t think of a more boring artist to do night scenes than Deodato. All of the art seems hurried, though some of it couldn’t be. Jones introduces little monsters who hunt Mr. Blue and Nadia. Except, of course, this issue is also where Jones reveals Mr. Blue’s identity.

He could have hinted at it better, especially during the endless conversations with Nadia. Two essentially unarmed women against hundreds of little alien-like things (alien like Aliens, no design originality award here) and Jones has them banter. It’s all exposition, so why not exposition with subtext.

There’s also some stuff with Doc Samson and his lady friend. Bruce Banner drives. Supposedly the lead character in the comic and he drives around.

Bringing all the supporting cast together is just revealing how little Jones needed them for except for expository purposes. Hulk hasn’t just lost texture, it’s lost Jones’s ramblings too.

C-

CREDITS

Split Decisions, Part Two: Night Eyes; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Warren Simons, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Rocket Girl 4 (March 2014)

Rocket Girl #4

I had been a little worried about Rocket Girl but everything is back on track this issue. There’s the 1986 scientists realizing they’re Cyberdyne, there’s the future detectives realizing they don’t know what’s going to happen, there’s Rocket Girl on the run from guys from the future.

Those bad guys from the future turn out to be about the only problem with the comic. Montclare goes for a plot connection he really doesn’t need. The way he paces the series, it’ll be quite a while before he gets to it and it’s not good enough to wait on.

Otherwise though, all of the plot moves are fantastic. There’s some great dialogue from the scientists and the future scenes go further in making the teen police department more believable. All they needed was to get boozed up, apparently.

Reeder’s art for the issue is phenomenal. The action scenes, settings, just phenomenal.

CREDITS

Nowhere Fast; writer, Brandon Montclare; artist, colorist and letterer, Amy Reeder; publisher, Image Comics.

Lois Lane 1 (August 1986)

Lois Lane #1

Writer Mindy Newell gives Lois Lane a serious story to cover–a murdered child–which sends her into an obsessive panic. Newell shows not just Lois’s investigative work, but also how the pursuit affects her and those around her.

The Gray Morrow art is elegant and disturbing. It’s a perfect combination; he’s able to handle the talking heads parts and the more emphatic, quiet parts. Newell and Morrow push on the informative angle, but they compensate it with the rest.

Newell explores how disturbed Lois becomes, how single-minded. There are some plot contrivances–problems at work, Lucy in town–but Newell still just uses them to emphasize Lois’s irrationality and drive.

The comic’s also got a great domestic scene with Clark and Lana. Newell’s very deliberate when it comes to the characters, particularly in their thought balloons.

The comic is awkwardly paced, but Newell and Morrow execute it successfully.

B 

CREDITS

When It Rains, God is Crying; writer, Mindy Newell; artist, Gray Morrow; colorist, Joe Orlando; letterer, Agustin Mas; editor, Robert Greenberger; publisher, DC Comics.

Prophet 43 (March 2014)

Prophet #43

The difference between a divine Prophet and an excellent one? The divine one has less story. The issue opens with the tree-man on Old John’s team. Bayard Baudoin does the art for his story. It’s very stylized, very lyrical. In just a few pages, Baudoin is able to define how the tree-man sees the universe and his place in it.

Except the issue isn’t just his story. It starts with him, moves to the space battle–including another fun flashback to Youngblood. Even though Graham and Roy use such flashbacks more often now, they’re still surprising. For a moment Prophet all of a sudden becomes a comic about comics, a wild imagining of what could be. Then the moment passes–organically–and the story continues. It’s a very nice move the writers make.

The third part involves the slaves (from many issues ago); it’s setup. Good, but obviously setup.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Bayard Baudoin, Giannis Milonogiannis, Roy, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward; colorists, Joseph Bergin III, Baudoin, Sheean and Ward; letterer, Ed Brisson. Pieces; writer and artist, Daniel Warren Johnson; colorist, Doug Garbark. Publisher, Image Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 61 (November 2003)

The Incredible Hulk #61

Deodato uses a lot of six panel pages. Not just for conversations, though there are a lot of conversations this issue, but he uses them for action too. Big action at the size of a thumbnail, how rewarding. It’s not even good small sized big action. Deodato skimps on the details; the smaller size is an excuse.

But even with good art, it wouldn’t be a good issue. There are now three sets of characters, Bruce and some guy he hangs out with at a bathhouse (really), Doc Samson who’s now a government assassin and then Nadia and Mr. Blue. Mr. Blue being a woman. Jones is trying to fill an issue with the back and forth conversations. It’s all really bad.

Still, there’s a good cliffhanger. Even with the bad Deodato art. Jones introduces a new threat, which might prove interesting. But probably visually interesting.

It’s a weak issue.

C- 

CREDITS

Split Decisions, Part Two: From Shadowed Places; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Warren Simons, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Daredevil 1 (March 2014)

Daredevil #1

Daredevil is a lot of fun. Most of the issue is a chase scene through San Francisco. Chris Samnee composes his panels close to the action, not in long shots, so there aren’t big landmark double pages. Instead, he infers the setting around Matt. It’s a rather cool approach.

Also important is the daytime setting; this comic is exciting, not downbeat, even when Mark Waid’s putting a little kid in danger. Waid knows exactly how to get the best result from the story, whether it’s in Daredevil showing off his powers of observation, how he paces the kid in danger, everything.

It’s very well-done superhero comics.

There’s also absolutely nothing compelling about it except Samnee’s art. And the art’s enough reason to read the book. Waid does an okay job, but the art’s where Daredevil is different.

If it were just the writing, there wouldn’t be a reason to return.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Waid; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Javier Rodriguez; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editor, Ellie Pyle; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Detective Comics 567 (October 1986)

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The headline on the cover promises an "off-beat" story from Harlan Ellison. Off-beat can't have been an intentional euphemism for bad… Ellison writes Batman as an insensitive, ill-mannered, narcissist.

On patrol, Batman can't find anyone actually needing his help. Instead of thinking the best of people, Batman assumes the worst. Ellison might like the character, but apparently he thinks of him as a reactionary fascist.

Batman moves from one interaction from another, never learning from his propensity to prejudge. The art, from Colan and Smith, is occasionally too rough but often okay. There are some nice Colan establishing shots but also some very undercooked panels.

The Green Arrow backup is far superior. Not for the superhero content, which is competently illustrated by Woch and Dave Hunt, just poorly composed, but the finale. Cavalieri comes up with a great finish for the storyline.

As finale for a pre-Crisis Detective, it's dreadful.

D 

CREDITS

The Night of Thanks, But No Thanks!; writer, Harlan Ellison; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. Green Arrow, The Face of Barricade!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Stan Woch; inker, Dave Hunt; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Lazarus 7 (March 2014)

Lazarus #7

Even though there’s a rather emotional turn of events this issue–Rucka and Lark pace the sequence perfectly–there’s almost a genial quality to this issue of Lazarus. As genial as a comic where the opening scene is a flashback to Forever getting caned as a child.

But that genial quality, along with an odd sense of wonderment in the soft cliffhanger, are worrisome for the arc. Not terribly worrisome, just a bit. Rucka can either reward the reader or be honest to the story. While reading the issue, these concerns don’t come up. Only afterwards.

The stuff with the peasant family trying to make it to the opportunity to better themselves is good. Maybe a little too much tugging on the heartstrings but no worse than any number of Westerns.

Forever, in the modern day, is investigating a terror cell. It’s practically the B plot, but engaging.

Lazarus’s stride is continuing.

B 

CREDITS

Lift, Part Three; writer, Greg Rucka; artists and letterers, Michael Lark and Brian Level; colorist, Santiago Arcas; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 60 (November 2003)

The Incredible Hulk #60

Poor Bruce Jones. He gets back to the conspiracy storyline, brings back in Doc Samson–reimagined as some kind of super-spy–and generally gets the series moving again towards something. Sure, Banner barely has anything to do but the narrative works. Jones splits it between Banner, Samson and Nadia (the Abomination’s wife) and ties them all together trying to get the mystery laptops to work.

All in all, the narrative is successful. Jones goes for an artful cliffhanger rather than a rewarding or intriguing one but artful’s okay.

But Deodato’s back on the art and he butchers it. The juxtaposed fight scenes are awful, the Doc Samson fight scene is awful, even the Banner sitting in a cafe is awful. Deodato misappropriates his artistic attentions. The fight scenes should be compelling, what with Jones’s placement of them in the narrative, instead they’re painful to the eye.

It’s a shame.

B- 

CREDITS

Split Decisions, Part One; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Jennifer Huang, Warren Simons, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll 2 (March 2014)

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #2

You might think the comic would be about Loki, given his name on the cover, but it’s actually more about the system of gods Esquivel has set up. At least half the issue is Thor fighting Hercules. Sadly, there aren’t a lot of Marvel references in those scenes. Esquivel actually gets rid of a lot of those.

And I’m not knocking the comic at all. It’s a rather good comic, especially Esquivel’s handle on the humor. It’s no longer dependent on winking; the few “regular” Thor and Loki references in this one aren’t the humor anymore. The situations Esquivel creates for the book do all the comedic generation now.

Still, Loki is underused. There’s some funny stuff with his band, a great interview, but once the gods get to Earth, Loki gets lost. He’s a bystander. Hopefully Esquivel has something better planned for him.

Either way, it’s a good read.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Eric M. Esquivel; penciller, Jerry Gaylord; inkers, Jerry Gaylord and Penelope Gaylord; colorist, Gabriel Cassata; letterer, Ryan Ferrier; editors, Chris Rosa and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sovereign 1 (March 2014)

Sovereign #1

Chris Roberson splits Sovereign’s first issue into three parts; he’s trying to establish a whole world so splintering makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, the three parts are not equal.

The first part is some mystics having to bury people. Not their people, just people, because as mystics they have to bury dead. Roberson works in a mystic in training, which gives the reader further entry into the world.

The second part is some prince who doesn’t want to be king but is going to be sooner than he thought. For the first part, which is set at night, Paul Maybury’s art is excellent. Once the day time scenes start? It’s okay. Mostly. It’s like Paul Pope meets E.C. Segar.

The third part is the weakest. Lots of fantasy exposition; it’s set at sea, there are monsters, lots and lots of terminology.

It’s too bad–the first part’s great.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Chris Roberson; artist, Paul Maybury; colorists, Jordan Gibson and Maybury; letterer, John J. Hill; publisher, Image Comics.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 9

We didn’t just make our monthly schedule, we also managed to post from a mobile (to prep for the grand C2E2 micro-episode experience.

This episode Vernon and I talk about new comics. Lots of new comics. We also talk some C2E2 and about the latest comics-related TV and movies.

you can also subscribe on iTunes…

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll 1 (February 2014)

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1

I’ll bet there’s a very unhappy Disney lawyer out there. Especially after Thor 2 made so much money. Batman and Superman–save The Boys–usually get the most thinly veiled analogues in indie series, but for Loki: Ragnarok and Roll, writer Eric M. Esquivel goes after Disney’s Thor. Not Marvel’s Thor, but the movie Thor. Between the bifrost and the frost giants as villains, I’m sort of surprised Boom! was able to get this one on the shelves.

It’s good they did. After an awkward opening–how many winks to Marvel can you do–Loki is banished to Earth and the comic gets good. Esquivel writes the character well; a combination of intelligent and petulant but also able to understand the mortals around him.

The cover promises rock and roll–as does the title–but not yet.

The Jerry Gaylord art is good. It’s fun and intricate.

Loki’s all right.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Eric M. Esquivel; artist, Jerry Gaylord; colorist, Gabriel Cassata; letterer, Ryan Ferrier; editors, Chris Rosa and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Ms. Marvel 2 (May 2014)

Ms. Marvel #2

I remember worrying about whether or not Wilson would be able to maintain the first issue’s level of quality as Ms. Marvel went on. Apparently I didn’t need to concern myself, because not only is the second issue just as good, Wilson starts to show her hand.

First up, the superhero alter ego is going to be more important to the protagonist than to anyone else. I can’t imagine how Wilson will deal with a crossover. Second, the family and friends aspect is going to continue to be where Wilson gets the majority of the drama. In some ways, it’s not a very Marvel comic, but in others… it’s very much one.

There’s some excellent art from Alphona too. The setting has to be mysterious, familiar and contained all at once. Then the second half is (good) family comedy. Alphona handles both styles equally well.

Wilson and Alphona have Marvel covered.

A 

CREDITS

All Mankind; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Adrian Alphona; colorist, Ian Henning; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 59 (October 2003)

The Incredible Hulk #59

I don’t tend to go on at length about bad art. Well, maybe I do sometimes. But not often.

This issue features the Hulk versus the Absorbing Man. Fernandez might draw the Hulk bad, but the Absorbing Man? Oh, he’s a disaster. From the panel Creel gets out–maybe even a few panels earlier where an establishing shot or two gets missed–the issue is a disaster. Fernandez is clearly trying, there’s lots of detail, it’s just inept visual storytelling.

There’s also a lack of commitment from Jones. The arc’s plot threads don’t great resolved; he sends Bruce off into the sunrise, Bill Bixby-style, ready for his next episode. There’s an orphaned kid and the super-woman female lead of the arc not getting any resolution. Worse, there’s even an ominous epilogue.

Jones also loses the too smart supervillain vibe this issue. It’s bad stuff, disjointed and rather dispassionate.

C- 

CREDITS

Hide in Plain Sight, Part Five; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Leandro Fernandez; colorist, Steve Buccellato; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Warren Simons, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ghosted 8 (March 2014)

Ghosted #8

Gianfelice’s art stands out this issue. Maybe it’s because everything Williamson does–Jackson is being held hostage–needs to be a surprise. There’s the villains taunting him so their taunts need to be visually rendered, there’s the allies doing a surprise attack, the surprise needs to be rendered. Even though there aren’t any huge set piece fights (I think they average three or four panels), the art’s essential.

Also essential is giving Jackson someone to talk with. Williamson can run him through the Bond henchmen and Bond villain–a comparison the comic itself raises–but giving him a chance to connect with a “regular” character is necessary to jump start the arc. Ghosted has been doing fine, but once Williamson unveils the damsel in distress’s secret, it improves.

While the flashback stuff is calculatedly compelling, Williamson hasn’t introduced complicated intrigue in the arc until now. It seems worth the wait.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Davide Gianfelice; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooton; editor, Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

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