Star Trek 4 (July 1980)

Star Trek #4

With the limitless possibilities of a comic book, Wolfman goes instead with the Enterprise encountering some kind of haunted house in space. It’s bewildering, but somehow appropriate–it certainly feels like an episode out of the television show, what with the budget and everything.

The issue itself doesn’t leave much impression. Cockrum and Janson’s art is decent; their renditions of the crew, save Kirk, often have problems. They can’t do age well. It’s too much. They need to hint at it sometimes, but go too far.

The issue’s best scenes are early, before the goofiness starts. Wolfman writes an interesting couple guest stars, though Cockrum bases one of them too much on the monster from Alien.

I had hoped it would be a done in one; the cliffhanger promises a different type of issue as a followup. Assuming there are no more Dracula cameos, it should be an improvement.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Haunting of Thallus!; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Clockwork Angels 2 (April 2014)

Clockwork Angels #2

Again, there’s nothing so much wrong with Clockwork Angels as there’s nothing particularly right about it. Gorgeous art from Robles–sort of a gentle steampunk. There’s nothing dangerous but there’s lots of pretty technology and architecture. There’s no mood.

The problem’s the protagonist. If there was an era where a writer could get away with a generic white kid who’s just too much of a dreamer for his small hometown, Anderson is writing this comic about two eras removed from that one. If there ever was such an era.

This issue features the lead coming across a circus and a girl at said circus. Both will apparently be more important as things move along. Robles renders both precisely and beautifully, with the trapeze walking girl flying at one point. Looks magical, except it’s missing soul.

The comic’s about the protagonist’s wonderment and Anderson’s script is shockingly absent any of it.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Neil Peart and Kevin J. Anderson; artist, Nick Robles; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Stray Bullets 11 (October 1996)

Stray Bullets #11

It’s back to reality, but Lapham keeps his new formula for figuring in interconnected exposition. Maybe Beth and her friend are the girls from the night of the first party. I kind of hope not, because it makes her meeting Orson–who thankfully doesn’t appear this issue–way too contrived.

The issue has Beth and the friend out swimming, only they end up fighting because they’re both going crazy on the run. Then Beth has this crazy adventure with a movie star and her odd entourage. The end brings everything together with devastating result. It’s like Lapham took a while to figure out what stories to do–and how uncomfortable to make things. He’s got a great balance this story.

He’s finally turning Beth into a decent character. She was one note as Orson’s angry girlfriend but Lapham hasn’t given her room to stretch until now. It works out well.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Supportive Friend; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editor, Deborah Purcell; publisher, El Capitán Books.

Southern Bastards 1 (April 2014)

Southern Bastards #1

I’m getting tired of the pilot issue. What about a nice story, instead of something establishing tone or the ground situation or whatever. It’s a strange thing to want something more standard–even a small resolution would be nice–because Jason Aaron has lots of opportunity in Southern Bastards and he doesn’t utilize any of it. Instead, it feels like an adaption of a novel or something. There’s just enough information, but no enthusiasm.

Bastards is Southern exploitation and good exploitation. It shares details with the old Walking Tall movies and it’s definitely got personality. Jason Latour does outstanding work on the art. He brings depth to the setting, depth to the characters. His panic-stricken characters are amazing.

But it’s just an old man action hero story. Aaron has already established that genre for it, already boxed it in. There are lots of those stories these days. Why another?

B 

CREDITS

Here Was a Man, Part One; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Jason Latour; colorists, Latour and Rico Renzi; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.

Adventure Into Fear 12 (February 1973)

Adventure Into Fear #12

Gerber does the stupid second person narration, but not a lot of it. Most of the Man-Thing story he does a close third person for Man-Thing; it works a lot better. Especially he confirms Man-Thing has no mouth.

Instead, Man-Thing listens a lot. He makes a new friend, a black guy on the run from a racist white sheriff. Gerber doesn’t shy away from the race issues. Gerber even takes it further, working race preconceptions into the surprise ending. He’s also turning Man-Thing into a real character, even if he can’t talk and doesn’t get any thought balloons.

Jim Starlin has a really fun time on the pencils. There are some really emotive pages. Buckler inks him well enough.

The fifties back-up, from Stan Lee and Russ Heath, has an interesting visual style but Stan must have been trying to impress his editor with how many words he could use.

B 

CREDITS

Man-Thing, No Choice of Colors!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Jim Starlin; inker, Rich Buckler; letterer, John Costanza. The Face of Horror; writer, Stan Lee; artist, Russ Heath. Editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Daredevil 2 (June 2014)

Daredevil #2

Really, it’s necessary to do a Batman wink? It’s not necessary. It’s pointless given neither Waid nor Samnee are identified with Batman. So maybe it’s a DC jab. Eh, who cares.

Daredevil is fine. Waid writes a good Matt Murdock, though I suppose I question his friends. The girlfriend remains unestablished and the idea of Daredevil as the official superhero of San Francisco seems odd. Waid and Samnee aren’t going for high concept or realism, so bringing in both those elements makes for an awkward read.

Waid tries too hard. He doesn’t need to sell the concept. Between his Matt characterization and Samnee’s art, Daredevil is an entertaining read. It doesn’t try hard as far as the plot, so why try on the new ground situation. It’s digestible. Better to be digestible than not.

Samnee gets to do a variety of different scenes. The fight’s cool, but so’s the comedy.

B 

CREDITS

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

Stray Bullets 10 (August 1996)

Stray Bullets #10

It’s the best issue of Stray Bullets so far and it’s an Amy Racecar issue. I’ll pause for a moment and let that situation sink in. The fictional character of one of Lapham’s fictional characters has the best issue in ten.

Okay, here we go. Amy, or little Ginny, ends up in Seaside. Seaside is that truck stop-centered place from the last issue. Luckily, none of the regular cast appears–for a few pages, I was worried Lapham was having Ginny project Amy Racecar around her–except Spanish Scott. Of course, he’s called something else because Ginny never found out his name. This issue is her still disturbed from what she witnessed–and all the crazy stuff following it (and predating it, turns out her mom’s always been a nutter).

There’s action, there’s comedy, there’s great writing and great art. Lapham keeps piling it on and he keeps on selling it through.

Phenomenal.

A+ 

CREDITS

Here Comes the Circus; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editor, Deborah Purcell; publisher, El Capitán Books.

Star Trek 32 (April 2014)

Star Trek #32

Lots of drama this issue. There’s some comedy too, from McCoy and Scotty, but there’s also running around.

Last issue the Enterprise became sentient and grew itself a humanoid body. This issue… well, let’s see, Johnson seems to rip off sections from Star Trek: The Motion Picture and maybe one of the “Next Generation” movie. Not doing connections to them or tie-ins, just ripping off details. The comic’s so disconnected, it doesn’t matter much.

Johnson refuses the let Kirk be the main character and his focus on the events surrounding this android make the issue read too fast. Johnson is cutting from scene to scene without any room for the reader to breath or enjoy.

Farjar’s art is some of his best on the series. Well, some of it. Some of it is really lame, but some of it isn’t bad.

Star Trek remains a series of unfulfilled potential.

C 

CREDITS

I, Enterprise, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; penciller, Erfan Fajar; inkers, Fajar and Yulian Ardhi; colorists, Sakti Yuwono and Ifansyah Noor; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star Trek 3 (June 1980)

Star Trek #3

Unfortunately, the final issue of Wolfman and Cockrum's Star Trek: The Motion Picture compounds all the problems they had in the second issue. While they're skilled at densely packing scenes with characters and dialogue, Wolfman apparently can't cut back on the events enough to give the issue a good flow.

He really needs another one, especially considering how little science fiction spectacular Cockrum gets to illustrate. Most of the really visual space scenes are restricted to a small panel, something quick before all the talking starts again.

Wolfman does make some big changes to the movie to streamline the story. Some of it is shifting the dialogue around, but there's also a part where he throws Kirk into a scene where he not just isn't in during the movie, but doesn't serve any purpose. It's like William Shatner's ego influenced the comics adaptation.

It's not terrible, but it started stronger.

C 

CREDITS

Evolutions; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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