Atari Force 1 (1982)

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Atari Force is immediately strange on three levels. First, it’s game tie-in to the company, not a game. Second, it’s a reduced size comic and all the art looks too spacious. Ross Amdru is clearly trying to fill things out.

Finally, writes Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas borrow lots of sci-fi movie tropes. But they don’t apply them in the standard way–they turn them into action set pieces. Atari Force, despite Andru’s awkward page layouts, is something of a direct precursor to the 2010 film. It’s technological excitement in a sunny post-apocalypse.

This issue deals with a couple characters who are heading to Atari headquarters–it’s called something else, maybe the Atari Institute–to help save the world. Something along those lines. There’s actually a really tough flashback to post-World War III Africa. It’s not gritty looking, but it’s serious.

It’s a rather strange comic.

C 

CREDITS

Intruder Alert; writers, Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas; penciller, Ross Andru; inkers, Dick Giordano and Mike DeCarlo; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Satellite Sam 6 (February 2014)

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I may come to regret this statement, but Satellite Sam really is the bee’s knees. It’s serious, thoughtful, never silly. Fraction doesn’t mess around with it. Every scene is beautifully plotted–who knew Howie Chaykin had this kind of work left in him–and perfectly reasoned. It’s not just a consistently good read, it’s a consistently exceptional read.

This issue might be the series’s best so far. Fraction isn’t continuing the investigation into the old Satellite Sam’s photography habits, he’s starting up a bunch of new story lines (while still continuing directly from the previous issue). It’s comics as TV, with a new season starting here and Fraction and Chaykin deliver the goods.

The issue is full of loud and quiet moments, which is why it needs Chaykin. It needs someone who knows how to make those moments work in a sequential narrative.

It’s relatively uneventful; a muted, outstanding success.

A 

CREDITS

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

The Incredible Hulk 48 (February 2003)

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In one panel, it really looks like Immonen and Koblish are doing an homage to Byrne-style banner. It’s kind of cool, actually.

With the exception of the opening involving some secret agent in a dinky town, this issue is one of the standard Jones talking heads during an action sequence Hulk. It’s a fine enough example of one, where the biggest problem is how Immonen illustrates the villain. He’s full of Hulk blood–thank goodness they were the same type–and he’s mutating. Immonen shows that mutation, but Jones’s dialogue doesn’t recognize it (as a continuing condition anyway). So there’s a big disconnect.

Jones also gets in a big cliffhanger. Will the Hulk be able to save the day? It’s an odd cliffhanger; the one with the least stake in it is Bruce. Jones really needs to work on that failing–Bruce needs to be active, not entirely reactive.

B- 

CREDITS

From Here to Infinity; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Studio F; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, John Miesegaes, Warren Simons and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Auteur 1 (March 2014)

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After finishing the first issue, I haven’t got a clue where writer Rick Spears is going to take The Auteur, which is a good thing. It’s an absurdly violent story set in Hollywood, full of awful studio heads, drugged up producers, obnoxious directors and gurus doling out snake venom as cure-alls.

It’s not original in that regard.

The violence is gross out but not realistic. James Callahan’s art is imaginative both with the violence and the non-violent scenes and he’s dedicated to getting the page right. But there’s something almost juvenile about it, like a kid trying to gross out his friends.

So it isn’t original in terms of the art either.

Putting the two things together? Again, not enough to make it original. And, based on the editor’s letter to the reader, The Auteur desperately wants to be original. It’s good, it’s imaginative. Those qualities are enough.

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 1 of 5: Persistence of Vision; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

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