Atari Force 4 (April 1984)

Atari Force #4

What an odd issue. Not because of Dart making out with her de facto brother–the whiny surfer dude–just after her man has died, but because Conway brings back surfer dude’s dad. Previously, the dad (a main character from the first Atari Force series) has been off to the side. He’s been present, but never the focus. Now Conway reveals he’s basically the protagonist.

Then there’s the art. Ross Andru handles the pencils, Garcia-Lopez only having time for the inks. Andru doesn’t do a bad job–he gets very stylized for some of the scenes and the inks are good, but it’s not the same. Force doesn’t pack the same visual wallop.

The issue has the same subplots too, but Conway isn’t really moving forward on them. There’s progress for surfer dude, but only because Dart’s there and his dad’s there.

It’s odd how the plotting problems coincide with the art change.

B 

CREDITS

Families; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Ross Andru; inker, José Luis García-López; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Real Heroes 1 (March 2014)

Real Heroes #1

The first issue of Real Heroes doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises. It’s Bryan Hitch doing realistic superhero disaster scenes and he’s good at those. He does a lot of photo-referencing, of course, but it fits since he’s doing Hollywood stars.

The premise is pretty simple. What if the cast of The Avengers had to go play superhero in an alternate reality. How Hitch wasn’t able to sell “Galaxy Quest with superheroes” to a major studio is beyond me. Or maybe he’s trying to establish the brand first.

Hitch doesn’t shy away from plot or character contrivances either. His cast includes the son of a 9/11 firefighter who’s obviously going to be concerned about doing the right thing and then a paraplegic actor who’ll probably get to walk again in the alternate universe.

It’s a little too real with the 9/11 stuff, but Hitch’s earnest and definitely engaged.

B 

CREDITS

Writer and penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Paul Neary; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Drew Gill; publisher, Image Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 71 (June 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #71

Bruce is in L.A., no matter why, and he runs across a Tony Stark press conference. So they fight and team up. They fight because Tony can’t recognize Bruce in his sunglasses. Very convenient disguise.

There’s a lot of talking, some confusing art from Deodato–though he’s better than usual–and more of Bruce being able to turn immediately into the Hulk. One thing about that instantaneous change? Jones has never really said how Bruce feels about it. Has he turned the Hulk into a tool? Isn’t the Hulk his own guy to some degree? How does he feel about it?

All these questions go unasked and unanswered and are far more interesting than the comic itself. It’s unclear what Bruce is on the run from this time, which is another thing Jones could have explored but does not.

Worse, the arc’s four parts and Iron Man’s a lousy guest.

D 

CREDITS

Big Things, Part One; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Hermes Tadeo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Starlight 2 (April 2014)

Starlight #2

I was expecting a lot more from Starlight. This new development where series totally fall off after strong openings didn’t seem like something Millar would fall for, but this issue suggests otherwise. Duke argues with a kid from the planet he saved about whether he’s going back to save them again.

Of course he’s going to go back. Otherwise there’s not a series.

About the only time the comic shows any signs of life is when Duke says they’re going to show off the spaceship to all the people who said he was crazy. And then Millar fails to deliver anything.

So it’s a redundant, predictable talking heads book. Without very interesting art. Parlov doesn’t do a lot of backgrounds and his panels are simplistic. There’s an overemphasis on the kid, who’s not particularly interesting, and most of the moodiness about Duke’s solitude is gone.

Starlight’s dimming. It’s too bad too.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Ive Svorcina; letterer, Marko Sunjic; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

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