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.

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