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.

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