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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.

Wayward 1 (August 2014)

Wayward #1

Wayward is awful. I wish it weren’t, because Steve Cummings’s art is awesome. With the single exception of the teenage girl protagonist looking about the same age as her mother. But otherwise.

So why is Wayward so bad I can’t even stick with it for the art?

Writer Jim Zub. Unless he’s trying to do a “girl power” comic with some deceptive objectifying of women and some really bad dialogue, all the writing is a disaster. Every word. Down to Marshall Dllon’s lettering choices.

The dialogue sounds like a combination of protracted, insincere soap opera expository writing and poorly translated subtitles. At times, Wayward really does feel like Zub is trying to mimic a bad subtitle job. There are some goofy plot developments–like the fantasy ninja girl wanting strawberry milk.

As for the sexism, Zub’s characters are generic, predictable fetish objects. Sadly, Zub’s serious and not mocking the genre.



Writer, Jim Zub; artist, Steve Cummings; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Marshall Dillon; publisher, Image Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 33 (March 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #33

Kupperberg sticks around this issue to ink Rafael Kayanan and it’s an interesting result. The figures and composition are still Kayanan’s, but–with a couple exceptions–Kupperberg’s really bringing the personality to the faces. While Conway does do a little character development on Ronnie and Martin, the newly expressive faces are what sell the scenes.

Though, they’re very likable scenes–Ronnie falling asleep studying, bonding with his dad, bonding with Martin–it’s like Conway finally realized giving Ronnie endlessly negative scenes wasn’t helping endear the character.

Conway also establishes a new A plot, B plot, C plot structure; hopefully he’ll keep with it. The A plot has Québécois terrorists threatening New York City. The B plot is the return of Killer Frost, then the regular cast gets a couple C plots. The visual disconnect–the playful inks from Kupperberg–gives Firestorm a much-needed boost of energy. It seems to have reinvigorated Conway as well. For now.



“Burn, Manhattan, Burn!”; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Alan Kupperberg; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Phil Felix; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Pop 1 (August 2014)

Pop #1

About half of Pop is awesome. The rest of it is rather good, given the gimmick. The gimmick–which the title fits but in no way applies–is the eugenic world of pop stars. Pop stars are grown in tubes by an Illuminati-type organization.

With any consideration, it seems like an obvious gimmick writer Curt Pires is using; if no one has done it exactly, someone has done it approximately. And the Illuminati scenes are the worst in the comic.

But the stoned guy saving the escaped “not yet fully grown” pop star? Awesome. Pires dialogue–in general–but for those two characters specifically? Awesome.

Unfortunately, the assassins and the Justin Bieber stand-in are predictable.

Like any other problems with the story, Pires gets away with them because of Jason Copland’s wonderful art. Even if the comic weren’t often great, the art would be enough to elevate it.



Eyes Without a Face; writer, Curt Pires; artist, Jason Copland; colorist, Pete Toms; letterer, Ryan Ferrier; editors, Roxy Polk, Aaron Walker and Dave Marshall; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Savage She-Hulk 2 (March 1980)

The Savage She-Hulk #2

If only writer David Anthony Kraft had a better artist, his first issue of She-Hulk would've been a lot stronger.

Even though the mob tried to have Jennifer Walters killed last issue, there's no proof. Except sworn witness statements. But those don't hold up in the Marvel Universe, so the mob makes another attempt on Jennifer's life. She turns into She-Hulk and tries to remedy the situation, which has her best friend their unintended victim.

So the big action is She-Hulk running after a car without brakes and trying to save her friend. Even with the incredibly problematic pencils from Mike Vosburg–who just can't compose panels to make the scenes intense enough–it's a good sequence.

Unfortunately, Kraft brings back in the Marvel Universe legal logic at the end–Jennifer Walters is legally dead, killed by the She-Hulk, yet still a practicing attorney.

It's not bad though. It's definitely an exciting read.



Deathrace!!; writer, David Anthony Kraft; penciller, Mike Vosburg; inker, Chic Stone; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Jim Shooter; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Life After 2 (August 2014)

The Life After #2

Fialkov is keeping his cards covered but it certainly appears one possibility for The Life After is the protagonist is Jesus reincarnated in Limbo to free the souls imprisoned due to their earthly suicides. Or he's the anti-Christ and he's doing just about the same thing.

Or he's just some guy named Jude who's got a freakish monster who runs Limbo for a father. It doesn't really matter because it's Fialkov's pay-off for next issue, not this one.

Other than that hint this issue, however, there's not a lot going on. Limbo's a bad place and the protagonist doesn't like it. He doesn't like it to the degree he keeps interrupting Hemingway (as in Ernest), who is his sidekick, and Fialkov never gets around to revealing some basic details.

The writing's okay and the art's okay, but neither are trying too hard. Especially not Gabo, who tires during complicated sequences.



Writer, Joshua Hale Fialkov; artist and colorist, Gabo; letterer, Crank!; editors, James Lucas Jones and Ari Yarwood; publisher, Oni Press.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 32 (February 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #32

It's Firestorm versus an undead foe who's getting into the ethereal mix with Martin and trying to take over control. The Phantom Stranger is on hand to help out. Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier guest write this issue, which feels a lot more supernatural than it turns out to be. The only real supernatural elements–besides a ghost haunting Firestorm–are the strange settings where the possessed Firestorm ends up fighting the Phantom Stranger.

The writing, which is fine and does have more character development than the civilian halves of Firestorm usually get (and by more, I mean a scene as opposed to no scenes), is nothing compared to Alan Kupperberg's art. Kupperberg is rather cartoony and it brings a real energy to the comic. It's a strange story and a straightforward art style wouldn't get the job done.

So Kupperberg's the essential here.

It's silly and long, but not a bad comic.



Ghosts!; writers, Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier; artist, Alan Kupperberg; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Bob Lappan; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Ms. Marvel 7 (October 2014)

Ms. Marvel #7

Events take a somewhat predictable turn in the finish, where Wilson reveals not just how Kamala got her powers–which perhaps more up to date Marvel Comics readers also figured out–but also how she’s part of the bigger world. Wilson goes from having a Wolverine cameo to dragging Kamala into the greater Marvel Universe.

It’s only an issue if it overshadows the organic character development–which does get a couple boosts this issue thanks to Wolverine’s presence. It’s impossible to anticipate how Wilson will handle it, because Ms. Marvel is actually a rather odd book and Wilson’s an odd superhero writer.

Great bit where Wolverine’s grossed out with Kamala’s stretchy, growing powers too.

Wyatt’s art continues to be a good fit for the book. He’s not detail heavy, but he handles the various complicated action sequences well.

It’s a rather good issue until the awkward finish. Lots of banter, lots of action.



Healing Factor, Part Two; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Jacob Wyatt; colorist, Ian Henning; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Savage She-Hulk 1 (February 1980)

The Savage She-Hulk #1

It's not a good comic, but one's got to admire Stan Lee's ability to get a property established here in the first issue of The Savage She-Hulk. He introduces a new character in Jennifer Walters and manages to change her into She-Hulk before the end of the comic. He doesn't even waste time showing Walters's cousin, Dr. Bruce Banner, hulk out. Banner guest stars, the Hulk doesn't.

Banner's not a very smart guy; Jennifer becomes She-Hulk thanks to a blood transfusion Banner administers himself. He's supposed to be an expert in gamma radiation and its side effects. Maybe if Stan had just had Bruce think about the possibility, instead of skipping town once his part in the issue's done.

As for Jennifer and She-Hulk? Besides having some snappy dialogue and a job, Lee doesn't give her any character.

The John Buscema and Chic Stone is energetic, but otherwise rather unimpressive.



The She-Hulk Lives; writer, Stan Lee; pencillers, John Buscema and Chic Stone; inker, Stone; editor, Jim Shooter; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Wicked + The Divine 3 (August 2014)

The Wicked + The Divine #3

Something is a little off this issue. Gillen has maybe run out of establishing stuff to do and he’s getting underway with the actual story. This young woman investigating the gods and just happening to see some amazing stuff like a god-fight.

The fight, which is full of banter between the gods, is just filler. Gillen’s strengths on the comic clearly aren’t going to be the investigative scenes and this issue doesn’t have much besides those. Except the protagonist and her sidekick recapping what they know at the end. It doesn’t go over well either.

A lot of the problem is McKelvie. Most of the issue feels like someone trying to carefully mimic his style and even when it does feel like him… it feels very rushed. And without solid art, Wicked + Divine’s problems start to show. You start looking behind the curtain for the Wizard.

It’s too bad.



Writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Jamie McKelvie; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Chrissy Williams; publisher, Image Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 31 (January 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #31

George Tuska seems an unlikely guest penciller for Firestorm. He makes the whole thing look like a New Gods comic. But it works. Between Tuska's action-based take on the characters and events and Conway's willingness to cut around through the story, it's an exceptional issue.

In many ways, with Conway shedding the high school stuff and a lot of Martin's science stuff (but this issue does resolve the ex-wife subplot), Firestorm is a lot tighter. Sure, he's basically a supporting cast member in Firehawk's story (Conway really loves tying subplots together), but it works for the comic. It lets Conway do good superhero action without promising actual character development.

There's also the villain, Mindboggler, who gets a nice story arc this issue. Tuska doesn't do a lot of detail on faces, but somehow he and inker Alex Nino get the subtle emotions across.

It's an outstanding, rather unexpectedly produced issue.



A Mind of Her Own…; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, George Tuska; inker, Alex Nino; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Bob Lappan; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Letter 44 6 (April 2014)

Letter 44 #6

Alburquerque definitely does better on the art this issue. There’s not much action; there’s some running, when the landing party returns to the spaceship, and they don’t look good but there’s no other action.

Soule deals with the political stuff and the human interest story for the crew of the spaceship. The President has a really good scene and there are a few developments with the space side, but nothing significant on the latter. Or the former, really. Soule is sort of soft resetting the series, getting it ready for the next arc. It’s unclear why this issue is the end of an arc, however. Things have changed, yes, but the character development is all forced.

Still, there are some decent moments and a couple surprises. The surprises aren’t great, but one is for the characters so Soule is at least thinking about them.

It’s just an artificial pause point.



Writer, Charles Soule; penciller, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Shawn DePasquale; editors, Charlie Chu and Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

Stray Bullets: Killers 6 (August 2014)

Stray Bullets: Killers #6

Well, it’s far from the worst issue of Killers. It’s more with Virginia and her mostly lame boyfriend Eli; Lapham does very little to show why Eli’s any good as a boyfriend other than he’s usually sweet to Virginia.

This issue has him not being sweet for the first time and it’s an awkward scene. Usually outburst scenes in Stray Bullets lead to some kind of murder scene. This time it leads to teenage angst.

It’s also one of the first issues–Killers or regular series–where something turns out not to be the worst possible scenario. Except maybe some of those early Virginia issues where Lapham frequently threatens her to keep the tension high. It’s a Stray Bullets comic without the big finish. Very odd.

The art’s really lazy at times; Lapham rushes through the talking heads sequences and it hurts the comic. Ditto the narratively pointless hallucination subplot.



99 Percent; writer, artist and letterer, David Lapham; editors, Renee Miller and Maria Lapham; publisher, Image Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 30 (December 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #30

It’s another messy issue from Cavalieri. Firestorm gets arrested–I can’t believe they didn’t go with it for the cover–and then gets beat up in jail. He’s recovering from the brainwashing, so there’s not a lot he does in the comic. Instead, the lame villains are back. There’s Mindboggler, who’s doing all the brainwashing–only she’s supposed to be slightly sympathetic because her evil boss (in a hooded robe) energizes her powers through torture.

Then there’s a guy who can transform himself into anyone and then a street gang. Cavalieri takes the time to include the street gang’s leader is also brainwashing him.

These villains do not make an impressive rogues’ gallery. They’re bad.

There’s some subplot movement with the woman planning on suing Firestorm getting a job at Ronnie’s dad’s paper. Contrived doesn’t begin to describe it.

Worse, Tanghal doesn’t ink Kayanan very well. The weaker art significantly outweighs the stronger.



The Depths of Despair; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Romeo Tanghal; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Multiversity 1 (October 2014)

The Multiversity #1

If Grant Morrison needs help breaking the fourth wall–he does it poorly in this first issue of Multiversity–he should have asked John Byrne. But with the exception of Captain Carrot, Morrison’s references to other comics are all mocking and derisive.

Whatever he says he’s doing with the comic, Morrison is actually trolling for fanboy outrage. Superman isn’t just black, he’s Obama. And all the other superheroes are black. Flash and Green Lantern are gay. Marvel Comics are stupid. Real stupid. Especially the Ultimates, Fantastic Four and Infinity Gems. There are probably a few more.

It’s all very contemporary and hip, but I assume Morrison will get around to throwing poo at Alan Moore and Mark Millar.

There are some amusing moments with Captain Carrot and Ivan Reis and Joe Prado do well on art.

Unless someone’s researching for a book about Morrison’s ego, there’s no worthwhile reading here.



House of Heroes; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Ivan Reis; inker, Joe Prado; colorist, Nei Ruffino; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Ricky Purdin; publisher, DC Comics.

Letter 44 5 (March 2014)

Letter 44 #5

It’s the first issue with a lot of action, both on Earth and in space. Alburquerque doesn’t do well with either. His figures in motion don’t work. He gets so rushed, people become squatter from one panel to the next. It’s unfortunate, especially because the awkwardness affects the pace of the comic.

All the action distracts from a decided lack of character and plot development. Soule reveals what the FBI has been working on, but it seems–so far anyway–an excuse to tread water through an issue to change up the cast a little. There’s a little fallout from the previous issue’s political cliffhanger, but it’s a couple pages and nothing really happens. Good line for the President, not much else.

On the space side of the story, things are worse. Soule ignores most of the astronauts and concentrates on the two exploring. The scientist explorer makes some really dumb moves.



Writer, Charles Soule; penciller, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Shawn DePasquale; editors, Charlie Chu and Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

Sons of Anarchy 12 (August 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #12

Brisson sure does have a complicated situation setup. Not bad complicated, good complicated. The regular Sons members are still supporting cast and maybe even moreso with Brisson introducing the father of a guy who died in a meth lab. Either this new character is going to be a long-term player in the arc or short-term but the way Brisson is weaving the plot strands is phenomenal.

There are three subplots and none of them have to do with the Sons of Anarchy, regular or guest starring. Instead, they’re to emphasize the villains. With a different writer, it might give the titular characters less to do, but Brisson still drives the main plot through SAMTAZ and its dealing with the bad guys.

The comic continues–with Couceiro’s as usual excellent art–to be an oddity of a licensed property. Brisson, Couceiro and BOOM! are unfailingly ambitious with the comic.


Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 29 (November 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #29

It’s Firestorm versus three really lame villains, one angry businesswoman and one angry high school classmate. I’m not sure what Cavalieri is trying to do–except further the problems with the series. Cavalieri doesn’t even bring Firehawk into the issue, which is odd since I thought they were trying to rescue her missing father the last issue, and she does provide an iota of character development.

Instead, Martin is mad at Ronnie for how he handles being Firestorm and Ronnie is obnoxious in general. He’s obnoxious as Firestorm, he’s obnoxious at school; there are some subplot developments–Martin’s romance and Ronnie’s dad getting fired, not to mention the woman threatening to sue Firestorm for property damage.

The finale has Firestorm fighting hallucinations without knowing he’s hallucinating. There are a few important things Kayanan and Rodriguez fail to make clear and the sequence flops. It’s nonsensical.

There’s some good art, but not enough.



The Assassination Bureau; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Duncan Andrews; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fade Out 1 (August 2014)

The Fade Out #1

The Fade Out is the story of a Hollywood screenwriter in the 1940s. Ed Brubaker writes the comic’s narration in really close third person. Between Brubaker–who has his fair share of writing predictable twists–and the protagonist–who would probably write even more of them–one of them should have noticed the utterly predictable nature of this issue.

The writer wakes up next to a dead body. Is there any chance he could have something to do with the dead body–a young starlet whose picture he’s working on? He sure doesn’t think so and Brubaker sure tries to make it seem like he’s not involved but guess what… you probably don’t have to guess if you’ve ever seen a single film noir.

I’m being a little hard on the comic, which is well-researched and beautifully illustrated by Sean Phillips. It’s recycled material–James Ellroy deserves an “inspired by” credit at least–but professionally, thoroughly presented.



The Wild Party; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Letter 44 4 (February 2014)

Letter 44 #4

Soule scores big with this issue. He's got a lot of political machinations going on with the President's story–a duplicitous subordinate and then an eerie Lady Macbeth vibe off the first lady–and Soule delivers on them. He doesn't build them up and make the reader wait, he takes care of it in this issue.

But then he's got the space story too and while there's a human component to it as well, Soule finally goes from fact-based science fiction to regular science fiction. Or at least more fantastical science fiction. It's the first time he and Alburquerque try it and it's a definite success. It serves as one of the issue's two hard cliffhangers; while it gets overshadowed by the political plot line, it's well-executed turn.

As for the human side of the space mission, Soule has an unexpected event there as well. Along with–possibly–a Right Stuff homage.



Writer, Charles Soule; penciller, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Shawn DePasquale; editor, Jill Beaton; publisher, Oni Press.

Black Market 2 (August 2014)

Black Market #2

Two issues into a four issue limited series and I can't figure out why I'm supposed to be reading the comic. Barbiere's writing is–at best–mediocre. Not because there's anything particularly wrong with it, but because there's nothing particularly good about it. He's not just not doing anything original, he's not even trying to be imaginative. He's got his hook, he's running with it and he doesn't mind it being highly derivative.

Santos's art continues to be the comic's redeeming factor, especially since Barbiere gives him an action sequence or two this time. Santos makes the chase sequence, which goes on too long as far as writing, work out beautifully. Though it is Barbiere who comes up with the strong conclusion to the chase.

If Black Market had anything distinctive to it–besides Santos's art–it might be something significant. Or at least compelling. It'd be nice if it were compelling for once.



Writer, Frank J. Barbiere; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Adam Metcalfe; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Chris Rosa and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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