Atari Force 11 (November 1984)

Atari Force #11

There’s very little personality to this issue. About the most of it comes from Babe–the rock creature–who apologizes at one point. It shows something going on besides the main plots, which are three.

First, there’s the deception on the team. It’s all really predictable and Conway doesn’t spend any time trying to make it palatable because it’s not. It’s too obvious and Conway can’t focus on it without making the characters seem too dumb.

Second, there’s surfer dude in captivity and the people around him. Again, not very engaging stuff because it’s a bunch of supporting cast members talking about a main cast member and the main cast member not doing anything.

Finally, there’s the bad guy. The Atari in Atari Force really comes through a few times because a lot of his dialogue sounds like terrible video game boss dialogue.

The issue’s not awful, just excruciatingly rote.

C 

CREDITS

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

The Auteur 2 (April 2014)

The Auteur #2

I'm hesitant, but I'm pretty sure The Auteur is reprehensible. Gloriously so, of course, but just completely reprehensible. Spears sends his Hollywood producer to court to defend a serial killer–so the serial killer can consult on a horror movie, natch–and comes up with this great argument about how a serial killer represents a natural predator in the human ecosystem.

Then there's this hilarious blaming of the victim and it's terrible, of course, since the victim was brutally murdered. But Spears has some great details. And he's not just making jokes at the expense of the squares, he's also got some great ones at the expense of his protagonist. The protagonist's a hilarious, awful human being, so it's fun to laugh at him too.

This issue might be the series's peak and it's a peak Spears and Callahan should be proud of surmounting.

It has a great pace too. Just great.

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 2 of 5: Survival of the Fittest; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Stray Bullets 2 (April 1995)

Stray Bullets #2

There’s an odd thing to this issue of Stray Bullets. Even though Lapham never suggests things are going to go all right at all, even though he takes the reader through various intense situations and they always get worse, he creates a hopefulness. It’s a useless one, of course, but it’s there.

The reality of the comic starts with the Star Wars banter and carries over into the family relationship. The lead is a middle school girl who witnesses a murder and breaks down. Lapham handles all of the relationships perfectly; people are selfish and self-serving. Not a single moment is off. It’s astoundingly depressing.

It’s not just good because it’s depressing. It’s great because Lapham perfectly constructs this situation and setting and the inevitability of it all. He has opportunities to foreshadow a happy ending, but skips them.

He’s trying to ruin the reader’s day. He does.

A 

CREDITS

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

The Star Wars 7 (April 2014)

The Star Wars #7

This issue isn't bad. It's got some of Mayhew's best art on the series–though not his giant Wookie battle, but the moments before those scenes–and Rinzler keeps the action going. But the comparisons to the original films, particularly Return of the Jedi, reveal just how much texture Rinzler has sacrificed to fit this comic into eight issues.

For example, there are these attempts at banter between Annikin and Artwo and they're incredibly forced–it's as though Rinzler remembered at the last minute Artwo could talk here and had to get something in.

The issue is preparation for the Wookie battle, which includes the introduction of Chewbacca and his single dialogue exchange with Han Solo (who's just around to give Luke Starkiller someone to talk exposition with), the huge Wookie battle, kids getting kidnapped, Darth Vader interrogating, Annikan infiltrating the Death Star stand-in.

Too bad Dark Horse couldn't give Rinzler twelve issues.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, J.W. Rinzler; artist, Mike Mayhew; colorist, Rain Beredo; letterer, Michael Heisler; editors, Freddye Lins and Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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