The Man-Thing 5 (May 1974)

The Man-Thing #5

Here’s a rarity–the cliffhanger successfully ties the issue together. Gerber–with Mike Ploog joining him on the art–spends most of the issue bringing the players together. Rory and the biker chick, a couple circus performers, a dead clown and Man-Thing. They all converge at the end, where Gerber finds time for a fight scene.

He also finds time to bring a little more humanity to Man-Thing, which is an emphasis of the entire issue. It opens with the dead clown and Man-Thing finding him, lots of second person narration describing Man-Thing’s failure to properly access his lost humanity.

The odd cast of characters–there are also some small town meanies mad at Rory for being a hippy (they ought to be mad at him for being such a lame character)–gives Ploog a lot to do. He’s good on the swamp stuff, great on the various people.

It’s got problems, but works.

B 

CREDITS

Night of the Laughing Dead; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Mike Ploog; inker, Frank Chiaramonte; colorist, Linda Lessmann; letterer, Artie Simek; editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Flash Gordon 2 (May 2014)

Flash Gordon #2

This issue doesn’t just have gorgeous art, it also has Parker getting to a Flash Gordon moment. Flash Gordon’s a hard character to portray because his behaviors are often contradictory. Parker understands some of that contradiction this issue, with Flash both being foolish and also being selfless. The selfless bit comes gloriously at the end.

As for the Shaner art, the comic is beginning to seriously impress. Flash and company are on Arboria and Shaner does a great double page (half) panel of an airship carrying them around. It’s fantastically rendered, as is everything else this issue.

Parker doesn’t spend much time establishing any of the characters–and Prince Baran seems a little too unobservant–but the time he does spend is successful. Dale is still a mystery, but Professor Zarkov is great. Both funny and smart at the same time; humor and exposition in one.

Flash’s starting to impress.

B+ 

CREDITS

Flash in the Forest; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Flash 297 (May 1981)

The Flash #297

There’s something a little off about this issue. While Infantino is (hopefully) the new regular artist and he definitely has some good work in the issue–he can turn the smallest panel into the fullest one with all the movement and action–Bates is a little tone deaf.

The problem might be the two-fold nature of the plotting. Captain Cold is out on parole and has turned himself into a hero, but Barry’s mom is also in a coma following a traffic accident. Bates dismisses any struggle about being a superhero while being a supportive son–Barry decides being the Flash is more important, no question.

The Cold plot has a terrible resolution. Bates introduces a good story for him, then rushes through it.

Good thing the art’s nice.

Denys Cowan pencils the Firestorm backup’s high school students like thirty-somethings. Conway tries to do some character work, but there aren’t enough pages.

C+ 

CREDITS

Capt. Cold’s Cold, Cold Flame; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Todd Klein. Firestorm, Multiplex Means Multiple Choice… Death!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Denys Cowan; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Phil Rachelson; letterer, Milton Snapinn. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Trees 2 (June 2014)

Trees #2

Oh, good, even when Ellis is doing better, he still feels the need to write dialogue about good coffee. I guess he’s assuming his audience has no longer seen Pulp Fiction or “Twin Peaks” or lived through the nineties and the litany of good coffee references in popular media.

Needless to say, the biggest surprise in this issue of Trees is when Ellis is original. Oh, the remix of other stuff is moderately successful–I’m really hoping it all ends up being dead people living on Earth and living people in the trees, like a “Lost” thing–but it’s not original. And the stuff with the South American small-time gang is just terrible.

But the Somalian president being an economist trying to survive in a world with the natural resources getting messed up? That bit is cool.

The Jason Howard art continues to impress and the Ellis writing doesn’t offend too much.

B- 

CREDITS

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

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