Nathaniel Dusk II 4 (January 1986)


Well, Dusk’s personal story arc for this series sure doesn’t go anywhere expected. Maybe it’s because McGregor didn’t set him up for enough development or maybe it’s because almost a fourth of the double-sized issue is wasted on a poorly paced resolution to last issue’s cliffhanger.

The issue has good art, even during that lengthy opening, but it’s just a bunch of action scenes strung together. The final one, involving Dusk playing Indiana Jones doesn’t even feel like the same comic. McGregor’s rushing to get in all his period detail and not worried enough about the story itself.

There are no supporting characters in this final issue. No one who’s appeared before makes any impression, not on the plot, not on the protagonist. If it weren’t for McGregor’s competence and the still good art from Colan, things would have been a lot worse.

It’s a shame Dusk’s finale disappoints.



Apple Peddlers Die at Noon, Part Four; writer and editor, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, DC Comics.

Hawkeye 17 (May 2014)

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What do you do if your comic is so late not just your primary artist is behind but apparently your backup artist is behind too?

You do a "winter holiday special," in which the main character–as in titular superhero Hawkeye–falls asleep in front of the television during a holiday special. And the rest of the comic is the holiday special (courtesy Chris Eliopoulos).

There are definite analogues between Eliopoulos's cute little cartoon thing and the series itself. The hero is a powerless superhero who's determined, even though he can't do things right. Kind of like Clint Barton. Very deep stuff here.

Taken on its own, Eliopoulos is quote good at what he does so the comic's not bad. It's about as good as Fraction's regular Clint issues, actually.

However, the apologetic bookends don't endear the issue. Don't apologize for chooching your readers out of a real issue, just do it.



Writers, Matt Fraction and Chris Eliopoulos; artists, Eliopoulos and David Aja; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 56 (August 2003)


Much as I enjoy Fernandez's art with setting and people, he's not a good Hulk artist. The Hulk has very, very awkward proportions. Pudgy almost. Muscularly pudgy.

But since it's a Bruce Jones Hulk there's not much Hulk action. Instead, he splits the comic between Bruce (Banner) and his new lady friend recovering from an Absorbing Man possession and then the things going on back at the Absorbing Man's cell.

Jones is trying hard to give Bruce something more to do than smash, he's just trying to hard to use existing ideas. Absorbing Man is okay, but the powers are more important than the character, so Jones has to spread himself thin rationalizing the Absorbing Man cameo.

There are some weird moments at the end. They're more interesting than anything else. The narrative is pretty set once Jones opens the comic.

Still, the issue is fair enough, if decidedly undercooked.



Hide in Plain Sight, Part Two: Inside Out; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Leandro Fernandez; colorist, Steve Buccellato; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Warren Simons, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Stray Bullets: Killers 1 (March 2014)

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With this first issue of Stray Bullets: The Killers, David Lapham reminds everyone why they should feel bad about themselves for not missing Stray Bullets more. It's a new story, but it hits all the best beats the series used to hit and nothing else has hit since.

It opens with a stunning sequence with preteen boys talking about women. Fantastic dialogue, fantastic balancing of dark and not. Then Lapham gets into the protagonist's screwed up home life–deadbeat salesman dad who heads to the strip club while the mom works. The protagonist tags along, hidden in the back of the station wagon.

At the strip club, the kid forms a bond with one of the bouncers. Lapham gets in small town suffocation, the father's levels of guilt, the bouncer's personal morality, the kid's inability to understand any of it.

It's a phenomenal issue. I should've been missing Bullets daily.



No Take-Backs; writer, artist and letterer, David Lapham; editors, Karen Hoyt and Maria Lapham; publisher, Image Comics.

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