The Sensational She-Hulk 1 (May 1989)

The Sensational She-Hulk #1

John Byrne finds a nice approach for Sensational She-Hulk–it’s a gag. He doesn’t just go for humor, he finds the right balance between humor for the characters and the reader. It’s entertaining, which is the point, but very expertly executed in how he delivers that entertainment.

He never lets She-Hulk be a joke or her comics history–in fact, some of Byrne’s handling of crowd (this issue mostly takes place at a circus) reminds of Silver Age Marvel. But there’s also the Byrne art. He gives himself a cast of peculiar characters to illustrate and does well with them. The final reveal takes it a little far, but the whole circus setting is fantastic.

It’s not a deep comic and there’s not much character development, but it’s a lot of fun and the art’s good. Byrne’s attitudes–both to his narrative and to his protagonist–are strong.

B 

CREDITS

Second Chance; writer and penciller, John Byrne; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Glynis Oliver; letterer, John Workman; editor, Bobbi Chase; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Flash Gordon 5 (August 2014)

Flash Gordon #5

Odd issue. Parker splits it in two–with Sandy Jarrell and Richard Case on art for the first part and Shanier on the second. The first part, which is just Flash, Dale and Zarkov in their spaceship trying to get to the next world, has a lot of personality. There’s banter, there’s Ming megalomania. Even with the art change, it feels like the Flash Gordon comic Parker and Shanier have been working towards. Jarrell and Case do well too.

But the second half–where Shanier actually does the art–feels way off. The cast lands on Skyworld and gets into immediate trouble. Parker paces it terribly. While the art is good, the content isn’t expansive enough to make the abbreviated story worth it. Parker makes Dale the de facto protagonist but doesn’t give her anything to do but whine.

Like I said before, odd. It’s likely just a bump. Hopefully.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artists, Sandy Jarrell, Richard Case and Evan Shaner; colorists, Jarrell and Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 35 (May 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #35

Conway doesn’t just address Ronnie and Martin’s partnership as Martin has to move for work, he also makes time to give Ronnie’s father both a personality (or hints of one) and a girlfriend. There’s also intrigue at Martin’s new job. Lots of subplots this issue, including two villains.

The opening cliffhanger resolution, with Firestorm having to escape the new Killer Frost’s trap even figures into the later talking heads scene between Ronnie and Martin. Conway seems to be taking a new look at his characters, a fresh one without as much baggage.

It’s a strange approach, given he’s over thirty issues into the series, but it does work.

Kayanan and Kupperberg’s art has its moments–like the action scenes or the date scene for Ronnie’s dad–but the talking heads sequence doesn’t work out. With too many faces to ink, Kupperberg gets a little lazy.

It’s a thoroughly solid issue.

B 

CREDITS

Winter Frost; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Alan Kupperberg; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Ben Oda; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Star Spangled War Stories 2 (October 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories #2

G.I. Zombie likes to talk to himself. A lot. He and his partner spend the issue working on separate parts of the same mission; she gets to talk to the bad guys, he gets to kill them and talk to himself. A lot.

It doesn’t make much sense, since Palmiotti and Gray open the issue with G.I. Zombie narrating it. Why change from perfectly reasonable narration to the guy talking to himself while on his stealth mission? No idea. It doesn’t make sense.

The big finish is similarly confusing. Palmiotti and Gray do pace the issue rather well. Although it takes place over an hour or so, it’s a very busy hour and there are a handful of nods towards character development. But the ending is a mess. It’s too fast and too slight.

Also a problem is Hampton’s art. He maintains the cool style, but he’s slacking in detail.

B- 

CREDITS

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

Groo vs. Conan 2 (August 2014)

Groo vs. Conan #2

So Groo vs. Conan is already an imaginary story wrapped in the adventures of Sergio Aragonés as he runs around with (presumably) temporary dementia. But then he and co-writer Evanier feel the need to wrap another imaginary element around the finish. The last few pages, where Groo and Conan fight, are all in the imagination of one of the townspeople.

The mix of art, with Yeates’s Conan often in front of Aragonés Groo backgrounds, is mildly successful. Each artist does fine on their own, but the combination is distracting. It isn’t supposed to look real and it doesn’t… it also doesn’t come off as the most imaginative way to fuse the two styles.

The best stuff in the comic is Sergio’s adventures running around half naked as he tries to escape Evanier and his doctors.

Aragonés and Evanier don’t seem to know how to best exploit the series’s gimmick.

B- 

CREDITS

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

The Savage She-Hulk 4 (May 1980)

The Savage She-Hulk #4

What an awful comic book. It gets dumber as it goes along, with Jennifer’s dad joining forces with the guy who killed his wife in order to kill She-Hulk. The villain isn’t a regular mobster, he has a huge Bond villain subterranean fortress. It’s not too big, however, since She-Hulk is able to find everyone right after she breaks in.

The comic also has the further adventures of She-Hulk’s Rick Jones, the Zapper kid. It’s really dumb, especially as Kraft tries to show She-Hulk predisposition towards rage. Except she doesn’t change when she’s angry, she changes when she’s in pain or danger.

I also need to address the art, even though there’s nothing nice or interesting to say about it. Volsburg and Stone produce some severely lacking artwork this issue. The action scenes can’t compete against bad composition.

It’s a bad comic. Slow, dumb and ugly.

D 

CREDITS

The She-Hulk Strikes Back!; writer, David Anthony Kraft; pencillers, Mike Vosburg and Chic Stone; inker, Stone; colorist, George Roussos; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Mary Jo Duffy; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 34 (April 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #34

The Kupperberg inks continue to give Firestorm all the emotion Conway’s scripts have been lacking. Only this issue has some emotion in the script–Ronnie having a talk with ex-girlfriend Doreen (who he jilted for Firehawk)–and the result, even though Conway cops out for a conclusion, is fantastic. Kayanan’s panel composition and Kupperberg’s details make for a great talking heads scene.

There’s a lot of movement with the subplots too, more than with the action plots. At least for this issue, Conway’s doing something of a shift–the action is spectacular but finite, while the character moments get a lot of space, whether it’s Martin, Ronnie or just the supporting cast.

The art also has a lot of fluidity, whether it’s how the characters talk or how Firestorm handles threats in the action sequences. Kayanan seems to be composing for his inker too, which makes the work better.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Big Freeze!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Alan Kupperberg; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Phil Felix; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever 3 (August 2014)

Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever #3

The bottom falls out this issue. Given nothing compelling to illustrate–unless one counts the various odd jobs Kirk and Spock perform–Woodward is left with talking heads, where he seems to be painting panels directly from pauses of old “Star Trek” episodes. The result? Terrible, static figures. Even worse, he’s rushing, so there’s a lot of loosely rendered, terrible, static figures.

As for the writing, there’s some angry banter between Kirk and Spock. It’s real bad; either from the original Harlan Ellison teleplay or the Tipton brothers adaptation, the characters have no chemistry. Combined with the static faces, it makes for terrible comics.

Even worse is when the love interest arrives. The flirting scene between her and Kirk is atrocious, but Woodward’s so insistent on the Joan Collins reference, the character never fits in the environment.

Edge has been a consistently problematic effort, but this issue really tanks it.

D 

CREDITS

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

The Savage She-Hulk 3 (April 1980)

The Savage She-Hulk #3

Well, Kraft certainly doesn’t turn things around this issue. He might make them worse–nothing this issue gets a full breath. The big ending, which should be an exciting fight between She-Hulk and her first superpowered villain, flops because of the setting. A beach house isn’t the place for a visually dynamic brawl.

There’s some subplot development with Jennifer’s dad and then a little bit more with the villain, but nothing with Jennifer herself. The idiotic “faked her own death” plot turn gets even worse with her opposing counsel, also a confidant in that plot, harassing her. And then there’s Jennifer’s good buddy, Zapper, who gets to play dude in distress.

The art, from Volsburg and Stone, is also weak. The action’s too small but they couldn’t handle anything more. Volsburg doesn’t have any sense of style to his composition either. It’s confused and unpleasant.

It’s a trying read.

C- 

CREDITS

She-Hulk Murders Lady Lawyer!; writer, David Anthony Kraft; pencillers, Mike Vosburg and Chic Stone; inker, Stone; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Michael Higgins; editors, Mary Jo Duffy and Al Milgrom; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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