Tom Strong 20 (June 2003)

Tom Strong #20

Jerry Ordway guest pencils for a special alternate history story. The shipwreck on the tropical island goes differently and so there’s never a Tom Strong. Instead, there’s a Tom Stone, son of Tom Strong’s mother and the ship captain. His understanding of racism firsthand–and still having the empathy to ignore it and help everyone–allows him to convince Saveen to become a science hero with him.

There’s a lot more, with Saveen marrying Dhalua and they have Tesla while Tom Stone marries some other chick. He’s actually nowhere near as important to the story; Moore realizes he can only get so much mileage out of that character and everyone else is more interesting.

It’s a constantly surprisingly comic, though the final reveal suggests Moore foreshadowed everything carefully throughout the issue. He’s not asking the reader to pay attention, he’s ignoring readers who do not.

It’s a tad manipulative, but definitely engaging.

A- 

CREDITS

How Tom Stone Got Started, Part One; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Jerry Ordway; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tales of Honor 4 (August 2014)

Tales of Honor #4

Hawkins is one cruel writer. Until now, he’s always done an excellent job making Tales of Honor an engaging read, but this issue he works out comic book action tension better than maybe anyone ever has before. He makes the comic a page turner, using long expository paragraphs to pace the reader’s attention.

He’s able to get all this tension even after he’s done an odd jumping on recap of the series–and cast–to date. That recap lulls the reader into a relaxed approach to the comic. It also tells the reader most of the cast is okay, since the protagonist is narrating these memories from ten years in the future.

So basically, Hawkins makes it harder for himself. And then he shoots past any possible expectations. This issue is phenomenally plotted.

Unfortunately, there’s also terrible CG art from Jeong. It’s too bad Honor doesn’t have visuals to match the writing.

B 

CREDITS

On Basilisk Station, Part Four; writer, Matt Hawkins; artists, Sang-Il Jeong and Linda Sejic; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Besty Gonia; publisher, Top Cow Productions.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 21 (March 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #21

There’s some more Killer Frost misandry goofiness. But not enough to impair the issue–what’s strangest about Killer Frost as the issue opens is how Conway sets her against another female scientist. He writes the human one fine; it’s just Killer Frost who he can’t seem to write with any sincere, empathetic depth. It’s odd.

Once Killer Frost escapes and goes on a rampage, the issue gets great. Kayanan’s disaster scenes are fantastic and the big fight between Firestorm and Killer Frost is even better; it survives Conway’s odd narration, where he overuses the word “fury,” presumably for branding purposes.

Throw in some real character development for Firestorm–who has a scene with the cops who don’t know what to do with his help–as he (and Martin) come to terms with how unprepared they are for Killer Frost. And her arc is good too, just poorly characterized at the start.

It’s excellent.

B+ 

CREDITS

Cold Snap!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Nailbiter 4 (August 2014)

Nailbiter #4

Nailbiter isn’t exactly an incomplete read, it’s just three scenes. There’s the ominous prologue, there’s the main action with the two protagonists and then there’s the titular serial killer in his jail cell.

Henderson is getting a little loose with the art, especially during the main action, which doesn’t help things. All in all, the comic actually feels like a quarter of a one hour television show. The cliffhanger isn’t so much worthy of a month long wait as of a three or four minute commercial break.

Another problem is how Williamson has eschewed character development for revelations. His protagonists aren’t developing their relationship together, they’re making expository statements to one another. Even the big reveal flops because Williamson has introduced so many revelations–two to three more in the last six pages of this issue–it’s hard to keep up.

The comic’s entirely lost its texture at this point.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

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