Tom Strong 19 (April 2003)

Tom Strong #19

This issue, containing three different stories by two writers (Moore on the first and last, daughter Leah on the middle one) and three different art teams (Howard Chaykin on the first, Shawn McManus and Steve Mitchell on the second, regular artists Sprouse and Story on the third), is mostly awesome.

Moore and Chaykin do a domestic adventure for Tom and Dhalau in the first story; Dhalau is kidnapped and Tom has to save the day. Throw in a matriarchal society and Moore gets to explore gender in comics. Chaykin’s exuberant but a tad too loose.

Leah Moore and McManus do a decent enough story with villain Saveen. McManus’s art is excellent but the final twist is too predictable.

The final story is an awesome riff on comic readers and the love of classic comics as objects. It’s funny, smart and mildly disturbing.

It’s a discreetly ambitious commentary on the medium.

A- 

CREDITS

Electric Ladyland!; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Howard Chaykin. Bad to the Bone; writer, Leah Moore; artist, Shawn McManus. The Hero-Hoard of Horatio Hogg!; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story. Colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 1 (August 2014)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #1

So here’s the story to Captain Victory, near as I can tell–the captain of a starship gets cloned on death so he can continue to command. Pretty neat. Only the clones in this case end up in different places thanks to a time warp or wormhole. Dirty seventies New York and then some wasteland planet.

I say “near as I can tell” because writer Joe Casey front loads the comic with a bunch of information about the starship and its crew and its mission. These elements might be important, but they’re not the most important thing in the issue. They aren’t the hook.

So it’s a messy first issue. The art, from Nathan Fox, is awesome but somewhat incomplete. He doesn’t do enough backgrounds and so on. Also, bland sci-fi shots aren’t the best use of his time.

Hopefully Casey will get focused and the comic will improve.

CREDITS

Writer, Joe Casey; artists, Nathan Fox, Jim Rugg and Ulises Farinas; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 20 (February 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #20

Conway gets through most of the issue before the problem becomes clear–he doesn’t have much of a story. He hints at future stories, with Ronnie having girlfriend troubles, Lorraine Reilly (Firehawk has joined the series as a regular) having family issues, Martin’s ex-wife stalking him again and so on and so forth, but there’s nothing going on here.

Oh, wait, Killer Frost escapes from prison. It’s a lengthy escape sequence and relatively well-done, but it’s just a prison break. Maybe if the character weren’t so shallow–and the way Conway writes her monologues about being rejected by men so painful–it’d go over better.

Conway’s definitely trying with his regular cast and now even developing Firestorm separate from Ronnie and Martin, and there’s Kayanan’s pencils. Firestorm has never looked better. Kayanan handles everything–locations, civilians, superheroes–beautifully. Kayanan is even able to make Killer Frost a welcome guest star, he illustrates her so well.

B 

CREDITS

Frost Bite!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Flash Gordon 4 (July 2014)

Flash Gordon #4

The cynic in me assumes the Phantom’s one panel appearance in a flashback to Flash fighting off the invaders from Mongo on Earth is so Dynamite can do a team-up limited series some time down the road. The reader in me hopes they do it and get Parker to write it.

Parker’s plotting on Flash is a little stunted; the story has been told–quite famously–many times and anticipated of what Parker and Shaner do in their revision plays into how the comic reads. But this issue, with Parker developing Dale as she does exposition, really shows the series’s strengths. Underneath all the flash (sorry), Parker is taking it seriously.

He’s just enjoying himself while he does it.

There’s a good little scene for Zarkov this issue and a great one for Ming. It moves fast, but not too fast to enjoy Shaner’s art.

Flash is working out.

B+ 

CREDITS

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

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