Trees 3 (July 2014)

I have something called the “Oh, Hell, No” rule. When a writer uses those three words to show how much stronger his (or her) female character is compared to someone else or her situation… well, there’s a line is all. And Ellis steps over it with this issue of Trees. His super strong, gang leader’s girlfriend who’s really smart but also soulful is hideous and lazy.

She’s stalking an old professor–who loves books–because she needs mentor. In the post-apocalypse, books are very important. Trees is turning out to be nothing but Ellis regurgitating ideas he gets from elsewhere. Some of them seem familiar, like he’s regurgitating himself; it’s a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. With pretty art.

Except this issue, Howard’s art is lazy, lifeless and hurried. Without him, Trees loTrees #3ses its single saving grace; outside muted, hostile condescension, Ellis isn’t bringing anything to it.

C- 

CREDITS

Writer, Warren Ellis; artist, Jason Howard; letterer, Fonografiks; publisher, Image Comics.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 3 (March 2011)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #3

While the issue is dedicated to Brian Jacques (of the Redwall series), Santos spends more of his time in homage to M.C. Escher. Mice in mazes and Escher–it’s fabulous. But Santos’s art isn’t just great for that playful and intricate composition, it’s everything this issue. He’s been building up with Midwinter and here he just lets loose.

Speaking of letting loose, Glass goes a very unexpected route. He abandons Cassius and Karic and heads forward a little with the Templar camp from the previous two issues, but most of the issue is about the people–sorry, the rodents–in the capital. There are even weasels this time; lots of developments, lots of great character work.

Glass is almost showing off–Mice Templar has hit the point where the adventure hook of young Karic isn’t necessary anymore.

It’s a wonderful issue. Action, romantic longing, political unrest, rodent bigotry–it’s both comfortably excellent and entirely unexpected.

A- 

CREDITS

Royal Division; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

Fatale 24 (July 2014)

Fatale #24

Given all the series’s problems as of late, I didn’t expect Brubaker to finish Fatale well. I knew it’d be problematic, but I hoped he’d go for satisfying at least.

Instead, he pretends he’s been writing a lot of third person exposition in purple prose so he can finish the comic with a rumination on the beauty of a sunset or some such nonsense. But it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Fatale’s been on a downward trajectory for a while and a rushed one–not ending would have been satisfactory. The writing’s just been too reductive.

But worse, Phillips’s art is rushed. He’s got lots of little panels and not enough detail on the people in those panels. He does a lengthy action sequence and it’s boring–it’s not entirely his fault, Brubaker’s rushing through the scene as far as tension.

It’s an unfortunate ending. It ignores everything good about the comic.

C- 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 15 (August 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #15

Conway and Broderick do exceedingly well on the action part of the issue. The first half has Firestorm having to get free from Multiplex and then fight him and Enforcer. It’s a great action scene, both in terms of pacing and art. It really seems like Broderick is going to turn in an excellent issue.

Until the second half of the comic, when Broderick has to draw the civilians and immediately it’s strange body proportions and hair helmets. It’s like he and Rodriguez entirely check out when it’s not superhero stuff and it doesn’t work.

The second half of the issue is also messy because Conway splits it between boring, connected conspiracies–one against Martin and Ronnie and one involving c-level supporting cast member Senator Walter Reilly. Plus, Conway brings back a stale story line he never watered enough.

The strong start only can make up for so much.

B- 

CREDITS

Breakout; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, Pat Broderick and Rodin Rodriguez; inker, Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Day Men 4 (July 2014)

Day Men #4

Day Men is on its fourth issue. About a year after its first issue. No one’s going to tell Brian Stelfreeze to hurry up and try to do a monthly and it seems the writers know the score on that one, because they still haven’t gotten over establishing the ground situation.

Gagnon and Nelson aren’t refreshing or starting over with this issue; they’re following up on all their old plot lines and story threads. But they’re definitely aware it might be the first issue a reader is picking up and they’re writing it for that casual reader, not the one who’s been around. Because there’s no other reason to introduce major plot points–like the protagonist having the unintentional hots for his vampire clan leader woman–other than to make Day Men seem fresh.

It isn’t fresh. It’s stale. Boom! should’ve just done a graphic novel, regardless of Stelfreeze’s art being awesome.

C 

CREDITS

Writers, Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson; artist, Brian Stelfreeze; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

100th Anniversary Special: The Avengers (September 2014)

100th Anniversary Special: The Avengers

Marvel really let James Stokoe do an Avengers comic? He sets it in 2063–a hundred years from the first Avengers comic (identical to the thing Paul Pope did with Batman: Year 100 but who’s counting)–and sets this team of Rogue (immortal thanks to Wolverine somehow), Beta Ray Bill (immortal because he’s a god) and Dr. Strange (immortal through incarnation) on an adventure. Well, some of it is just them going to check up on Tony Stark, who’s brain is now in a giant Iron Man building.

It’s crazy, crazy stuff but it isn’t until the end of the issue where Stokoe’s actually visionary. The future setting, the odd cast–those are just Stokoe standards. He’s not trying anything new here, he’s just bringing some eclectic enthusiasm to a commercial comic.

Except his resolution with the guest villain. Stokoe makes a profound observation about superhero comics–Marvel or not, Avengers or not–with it.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, artist, colorist and letterer, James Stokoe; editor, Jon Moisan; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 2 (January 2011)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #2

Glass is having some real problems with cliffhangers in Midwinter, if this second issue is any indication. After not just going through the main plot, but also introducing the supporting cast back from the previous volume, Glass quarantines these first two issues (for protagonists Cassius and Karic, anyway). He’s moved the players from point A to point B and now he’s ready to get started again.

It’s like a soft reset, with the ground situation now changed. It feels like a combination of treading water and contriving trouble.

There’s still a lot of strong material in the issue–some fantastic action art from Santos–and Glass’s character moments are excellent. He’s just all over the place. This issue it becomes clear Cassius hasn’t been the protagonist these first two issues so much as subject; his lost love has a whole lot more going on and self-awareness.

Hopefully things will get started now.

B 

CREDITS

Consequences; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

Deep Gravity 1 (July 2014)

Deep Gravity #1

Deep Gravity is missing something rather important–a hook. It’s a sci-fi series about people working on a different planet, mining its resources and bringing them back to Earth. The explanations all sound scientific, but it doesn’t seem to actually be scientific, so the hook isn’t it being “hard science” sci-fi.

The protagonist is some guy who goes to the planet to talk to his ex-girlfriend. It’s a three year trip so he’s dedicating six years just to talk to her again. Their relationship is fairly lame so it’s not a hook either.

Then there’s the art, from Fernando Baldó. This other world is some crazy mostly ocean place where plants and animals are the same thing. Apparently. Except none of the designs are particularly good. Baldó’s got a lot of issues with people, places, things. So the art’s not the hook.

So far Gravity’s painfully mediocre.

C 

CREDITS

Writers, Mike Richardson, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Fernando Baldó; colorist, Nick Filardi; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Scott Allie; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 14 (July 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #14

Until the silly eighties toys show up at the end–the villain rides around in absurd tank–it’s a decent enough issue. Well, the villain–Enforcer (Conway remembering his old Spider-Man days perhaps)–is lame, but some of it might be the art. Broderick starts the issue strong and then loses his grip by halfway through. This time it’s worse than bad faces, it’s goofy bodies and so on.

But the issue itself isn’t bad, Conway’s initial plot–Ronnie and Martin getting the newly unemployed scientist a job at Ronnie’s burger joint–works. He just keeps adding on to the plot until the issue is bloated. He doesn’t give anything enough time and keeps throwing in hints at future subplots.

The action finish–that tank–is silly and poorly conceived. All this action in a confined space cuts down on action possibilities for Broderick.

It’s a rather problematic issue.

B- 

CREDITS

Enforcer; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Low 1 (August 2014)

Low #1

Low is a gorgeous comic. Greg Tocchini doing sci-fi. It’s just gorgeous, especially the double page spreads.

Unfortunately, it’s clear from the first few pages of the comic writer Rick Remender is not bringing the same caliber of work. Instead, he’s writing a derivative, wordy, knock-off of “Lost in Space,” only set underwater.

The issue opens with lots of marriage banter between the narrator and his upper class wife. He’s just the guy who drives the ship–in this case, the ship is the bubble city humanity survives in. He wants to teach the daughters to drive, the wife doesn’t. I didn’t think Remender was so cheap he’d use tragedy to endear the reader to the family in the first issue but I was wrong. Remender’s a really cheap writer.

If it were just bad dialogue or dumb plotting, the art might make it worthwhile. But not both.

D 

CREDITS

The Delirium of Hope; writer, Rick Remender; artist, Greg Tocchini; letterer, Rus Wooton; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.

Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever 2 (July 2014)

Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever #2

Not only is Janice Rand back, she kicks butt.

There are a few more big changes in this issue, with Kirk and company beaming up after time has changed to find themselves on a mercenary freighter or some such thing. It’s where Yeoman Rand reveals her fighting skills.

It’s very hard to take City seriously with this sort of distraction, although it does feature some decent action art from Woodward. Not great, because painted fight scenes just don’t move, but decent. Yeoman Rand kicks butt and all.

The rest of the issue has Kirk and Spock going back in time and getting into some trouble with thirties rabble rousers. This comic shouldn’t be made just for people familiar with the original episode, but the creators certainly aren’t making it accessible otherwise. The whole soft cliffhanger hinges on that familiarity.

It’s a mediocre comic and its curiosity value is waning fast.

C 

CREDITS

Writers, Harlan Ellison, Scott Tipton and David Tipton; artist, J.K. Woodward; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 1 (December 2010)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #1

Besides the cliffhanger, which is too manipulative, A Midwinter Night’s Dream is off to a great start. Glass has a lot of territory to cover just getting the story going–there’s lengthy expository narration at the beginning, along with some fantastic art by Santos. For the flashbacks, Santos only gets a few panels to make his point and he does every time.

The issue isn’t just well-executed flashbacks, of course. Glass does some character drama, some more action and a little romance–not to mention another creepy full page spread of the lead character having to negotiate with the bugs to survive during the day time. Santos isn’t a creepy artist so the bugs aren’t gross, but they’re still disturbing. Maybe just because Glass still hasn’t shown them angry yet.

Glass uses the supporting cast to both build the mythology and move the action.

It’s another excellent Templar comic.

B+ 

CREDITS

Precious Burden; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artists, Michael Avon Oeming and Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

Afterlife with Archie 6 (October 2014)

Afterlife with Archie #6

It’s not hard to identify Aguirre-Sacasa’s influences for this issue, which tracks the story of Sabrina (the teenage witch) following her brief appearance earlier in the story.

The issue is Lovecraftian homage, sort of by way of The Wicker Man, which works out splendidly.

In some ways, the issue should be predictable to Lovecraft afficonados, with Aguirre-Sacasa hitting a lot of familiar notes. It’s just the presence of Sabrina–as she tries to figure out what’s going on (is naming her doctor Lovecraft just homage or is there more to it)–it distracts from the narrative beats. Even for someone who’s never read Lovecraft, just seen or read a handful of adaptations. Aguirre-Sacasa knows what he’s doing.

And Francavilla does a beautiful, beautiful job. It’s gorgeous and tragic. Aguirre-Sacasa’s script has some dream sequences and flashbacks so Francavilla gets a whole bunch to draw.

Phenomenal stuff.

CREDITS

Betty: R.I.P., Chapter One: Witch in the Dream House; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 13 (June 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #13

Firestorm is turning into a were-hyena and his plan is to go to Africa to find the cure. Why doesn’t he call the Justice League and have the many scientist super heroes help him? Because Conway wants to do a story about corrupt African nations? Because DC was docks writers pay if they used too many guest stars? Some third option?

Suffice to say, the plot of this issue doesn’t make sense. It removes Firestorm from being the active character in his own comic for quite a few pages–he’s delirious or he’s a hostage or just an enraged jerk. He is turning into a were-hyena after all. Good thing it’s really cute. Broderick and Rodriguez make the transformed Firestorm adorable. It’s weird.

Conway throws in a couple scenes developing the civilian subplots, but it’s not enough. This issue drags an unsuccessful plot out one issue too far.

C+ 

CREDITS

Split!; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, Pat Broderick and Rodin Rodriguez; inker, Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterers, Andy Kubert and Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Star Spangled War Stories 1 (September 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories #1

Star Spangled War Stories. G.I. Zombie. Neither of those titles suggest the comic is going to open in the present day, set in Louisiana, but writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray don’t do anything predictable in this first issue. Not the first twist, not G.I. Zombie, not the cliffhanger. Not the zombie scene.

It’s highly inventive stuff, with Palmiotti and Gray changing genres from military to federal agent procedural. Zombie’s setup–a female federal agent and her new partner, the only zombie in the world–is ready for a television pilot next season but that commercial appeal doesn’t hinder the issue at all. Having Scott Hampton on the art helps immeasurably; Hampton does a focus thing with the art. The backgrounds feel painted and distant, the characters sort of move on top of it. It’s an excellent effect.

There are some third act pacing problems, but it’s off to a strong start.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 1 (July 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1

Scoli and Barber’s madness continues and amplifies. What I love is how they put in some sense of a narrative–there’s a subplot involving Snake Eyes and what he’s been doing since he left G.I. Joe, not to mention how the Joes’ plan doesn’t get revealed until it’s already underway via flashback. Because the rest of the comic is a madhouse–Scoli gives the big non-action story scenes small scale panels to save room for more action. The result is big dramatic moments in small panels.

There’s one crazy full page spread where the characters move down the page, without much visual hinting; Scoli’s intentional lack of depth just makes Transformers vs. G.I. Joe even more gorgeous.

The comic doesn’t require any enthusiasm about the franchises themselves, just how Scoli and Barber are approaching the subject matter. A pseudo-simplistic illustrated toy commercial; it’s like a new genre, but not.

Scoli’s rocking it.

A- 

CREDITS

Writers, Tom Scioli and John Barber; artist, colorist and letterer, Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 0 (November 2010)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #0

As a zero issue introducing the new Mice Templar volume, this issue isn’t effective. There are some really effective things about it–Bryan J.L. Glass and Victor Santos retell the finale of the previous volume from a different perspective and Santos gets in some wonderful pages–but the comic itself is too slight.

Running about eight pages, it might just be too short to be anything but slight, but Glass takes an odd approach. One of the knights saving the citizenry from the tyrant king is questioning his orders and the idea of a savior and so on. If it were a full issue–and the protagonist were better defined–it might work as a rumination on events. But, like I said, it’s too short.

The Santos art makes it easily worth a look and Glass’s script coasts on built-up good will towards the series. It’s hard not to be a little disappointed though.

B- 

CREDITS

Faith in Miracles; writers, Michael Avon Oeming and Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 0 (May 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe is not serious. It is not a realistic examination of an elite international military organization battling sentient robotic beings from another star.

It is Tom Scioli capturing the sensation of being a six or eight year-old boy watching afternoon cartoons, getting excited for that cartoon’s toys being advertised during commercial breaks. Seeing as how it’s a comic book and a printed medium (sort of), Scioli even integrates nods to action figure packaging. Even though this issue is just the promotional zero issue of a subsequent limited series, Scioli has done something no one else has done. At least not sincerely.

Because the visible sincerity of the comic–just look at Scioli’s amount of detail and thoughtfulness of panel composition–is what makes it singular. If Scioli were doing it all as a joke, it wouldn’t work. He and co-writer John Barber are masterfully realizing boyhood fantasy. It’s breathtaking.

A 

CREDITS

Writers, Tom Scioli and John Barber; artist, colorist and letterer, Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 12 (May 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #12

Broderick and Rodriguez continue to have problems with Ronnie’s civilian adventures. For whatever reason, they’re fine with Martin and his supporting cast, it’s just the teenagers who have awkward, flat expressions.

The story has a slowly transforming Firestorm trying to stop the double Hyena threat. Conway spends more time coming up with witty exposition–and some of it’s quite good–than he does on the characters. Ronnie has a scene at his part-time job, one with his friends, but none have any resonance. It’s especially bad with the girlfriend.

Martin, on the other hand, gets fired and then possibly gets blackmailed. Conway’s building that story slowly, with one exaggerated setup scene but otherwise it’s moving well.

As for Firestorm versus the Hyena? The opening fight has some good visuals but the final one is a little confused. Broderick just doesn’t plot out the action well.

Still, it’s reasonably compelling.

B 

CREDITS

Howl; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Ben Oda; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Velvet 6 (July 2014)

Velvet #6

Brubaker starts Velvet’s second arc and it’s just as clear as with the first one, there’s something just a little off about it. Epting doesn’t get much opportunity for the period piece stuff this issue either, which is too bad.

There’s a whole bunch of exposition with Velvet explaining her thinking about her investigation–it brings up the perspective question too. Who’s Velvet telling her story? Or is her first person narrative just easy first person narration with no thought about it other than what mood it creates.

The issue is light on action, with Brubaker instead going for cheap visual thrills and innuendos at a London sex club. The short action scene at the end doesn’t make up for the lack of it throughout. Epting isn’t particularly creative on the composition either.

The extreme competency of the series continues to keep it afloat, but it’s still rather dull.

B- 

CREDITS

The Secret Lives of Dead Men, Part One; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Steve Epting; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor; David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Stray Bullets: Killers 5 (July 2014)

Stray Bullets: Killers #5

I remember when the Amy Racecar issues of Stray Bullets were wildly imaginative, wonderfully constructed black comedy. This issue, the first Killers issue to bring Amy back… is none of those things. Instead, it’s Lapham doing the “Amy Racecar as painfully obvious analog to Virginia’s life” approach.

It’s depressing–not because of the content, but because Lapham jumps all over the place to tie in to the original series (both the Amy issues and a little not) and to the Killers series. While one could argue the unanswered questions in the Amy Racecar stories are because Virginia herself doesn’t know the answers but it’s possible she’s dwelling on these subjects so they’re okay in the issue, I don’t think so.

Lapham wants this story to inform the rest of the work, not do anything else whatsoever. Not even make the reader laugh or cringe. The vague hints barely register a shrug.

C- 

CREDITS

Call Me Gilgamesh or The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face It Was On Your Butt; writer, artist and letterer, David Lapham; editors, Renee Miller and Maria Lapham; publisher, Image Comics.

Star Trek: Flesh and Stone (July 2014)

Star Trek: Flesh and Stone

Was someone out there desperate for a really bad team-up of all the doctors from “Star Trek” shows? The only regular medical officer the writers don’t include is the new continuity McCoy, which is just as well–the issue is heavy on McCoy anyway.

The important events, at least as how writers Scott and David Tipton show them, all take place in the past. The “Next Generation” doctors, along with all the other doctors, are just around to find McCoy and get his story. None of it’s interesting and the medical condition is less a condition as something they lost the solution for beating. The story is about finding that solution, not creating it or discovering it.

I didn’t have many hopes for Flesh and Stone, but it failed to meet any of those. It’s a lame comic and the David Brothers’ lifeless art doesn’t help it much either.

D 

CREDITS

Writers, Scott Tipton and David Tipton; artists, Joe Sharp and Rob Sharp; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 11 (April 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #11

It’s a mess of an issue. Conway makes the Hyena’s return a really complicated story with curses and multiple were-hyenas–including Firestorm turning into one too. But there’s also Professor Stein’s ex-wife, who Conway avoids really defining and just makes her ominous instead. Ronnie’s tired at school, which turns out to be okay with his basketball coach–even though it shouldn’t be–and then there’s some nonsense with his girlfriend changing her hairstyle.

Conway’s doing a whole bunch of stuff and not spending enough time on any of it. He makes Professor Stein’s contributions to the Firestorm scenes even worse. No longer satisfied doing wordy, obvious exposition, Conway uses Stein to tell the reader why things are bad for the characters. It’s beyond lazy.

The issue finishes with the big action scene finale flopping. The Hyena doesn’t work on a large scale and Conway inexplicably stages a fight at the World Trade Center?

C 

CREDITS

Waking Darkness; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

Dream Thief: Escape 2 (July 2014)

Dream Thief: Escape #2

Nitz is wrapping everything together rather nicely, but then he goes a little overboard. He explains the plan in detail only to throw a significant wrench in it. That wrench is another ghost possessing protagonist John; presumably this act of vengeance will make things difficult for the A plot.

It’s a problem because Nitz is rushing, he’s telling instead of showing. Most of the issue is in summary and the events are all lined up and the contrivances are starting to show. The final, cliffhanger possession–maybe the first time one of the ghosts gets to be in the driver’s seat as far as the reader experiencing it–is too dramatic after all the summary.

Escape is only a four issue limited series and by the end of this issue, it sure seems like Nitz needs five to get the story done right.

Still, most of it’s awesome as usual.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Auteur 5 (July 2014)

The Auteur #5

I don’t know why Spears can get away with the end of The Auteur. I don’t want to think about it too hard either, just because the last issue of this arc (or the series, it’s unclear) is so entertaining and sincerely presented.

Some of the success is because Callahan’s art is so good. He doesn’t even have particularly fantastic subjects to illustrate; the biggest set piece is a gross out scene with a drug’s side effects being harmless bleeding from the skin. It’s a really funny scene. Not laugh out loud, but funny.

Spears’s sincerity in the issue is the craziest part. Not the gross out stuff, not the one liners. At first, his mention of the protagonist’s love of film seemed like a last minute addition, but Spears really just goes with it. Every chance he can to commit to insane earnestness, he does.

It’s a great finish.

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 5 of 5: Show Don’t Tell; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

She-Hulk 6 (September 2014)

She-Hulk #6

I really hope Wimberly isn’t staying. He’s got a peculiar style and I gave it some slack last issue because it was different. This issue he’s doing superhero action and a lot of dialogue humor and it flops. Over and over, it flops.

He does draw She-Hulk as more of a monster than a cover girl, which is interesting, I suppose, but Soule is still writing it for the wink and the smile. The two elements aren’t moving together.

There’s also the way Soule shuts everything down in the issue after going out of his way to get the reader interested. It’s manipulative and pointlessly so. Whatever happens next is misdirection so why not just get to the meat and potatoes of a monkey with life-giving (literally, it seems) spit.

The issue reads fairly well, but Soule definitely forces the ending. Actually, the entire second half is forced.

B- 

CREDITS

Blue, Part Two; writer, Charles Soule; artist, Ron Wimberley; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Frankie Johnson and Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 10 (March 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #10

The issue opens with the Hyena hunting a bunny rabbit; Broderick and Rodriguez do a great job on the bunny rabbit, but it looks like there are some problems with the Hyena. So the issue starts right off with some questionable art and then it just gets worse.

Broderick does fine with the action scenes, does fine with all his composition but he and Rodriguez’s detail on the regular folks this issue is terrible. And the Hyena is a problem throughout; it’s too slick to be convincing as a giant were-hyena. Not enough fur detail, I guess.

There’s also way too much detail on teenage Doreen’s sheer nightie. It’s a weird choice; someone should have caught it.

Otherwise, the issue’s fine. Not Conway’s finest hour–the Hyena’s backstory is too convoluted and tied Peter Parker style to Ronnie’s civilian life–but he’s still got some nice character moments and Firestorm action throughout.

B 

CREDITS

Prowl; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

Groo vs. Conan 1 (July 2014)

Groo vs. Conan #1

Groo vs. Conan. Even the title takes a moment to digest.

Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier fully embrace the absurdity of it, including the middle part of the comic–the majority of the comic, in terms of pages–being the two men walking around talking about doing such a crossover and how crazy it would be.

So why do it? Well, in the comic, Aragonés gets bumped on the head and thinks it’s a great idea.

As for the actual Conan and Groo scenes, the issue is mostly setup. Groo gets confused about who he’s supposed to battle and why and his concerned potential victims head to find Conan to save them. Tom Yeates draws the Conan pages. He does a fantastic job. Aragonés does fine with the Groo stuff and the “real world” stuff, but Yeates doing fantasy is treat as always.

The issue’s amusing without being particularly successful.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier; artists, Aragonés and Thomas Yeates; colorist, Tom Luth; letterer, Richard Starkings; editors, Dave Land, Katie Moody and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Punisher 5 (December 2001)

The Punisher #5

Good grief–Ennis end the comic with a big Dubya is an alcoholic moron joke right before 9/11. Did they change the reveal for the trade?

It’s a dumb joke too. Instead of giving the Punisher an actual enemy, it gives Ennis a scene. He has lots of scenes this issue, some better than others, some pointless like this one. The big finale with the Russian is sort of pointless because there’s a predetermined finish to it.

Or maybe Ennis is keeping the Russian around even longer, because it’s easier for him to do absurdist humor than to write the comic.

There are a couple okay moments in the issue, like when the Punisher stands off against the big villain. The villain’s a mercenary general who has a long speech. Ennis goes for a cheap finish.

It’s a tired finish but it works okay… just like the comic itself.

B- 

CREDITS

No Limits; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Saida Temofonte; editors, Kelly Lamy, Nanci Dakesian and Stuart Moore; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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