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.

A- 

CREDITS

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.

B- 

CREDITS

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

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 28 (October 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #28

And now it's Joey Cavalieri scripting from a Conway plot. The most visible change in the scripting is the personality Cavalieri gives Firestorm's two sides. Martin is dismissive of how Ronnie does things and Ronnie is irresponsible.

There's a great line with Martin mocking Ronnie and Firestorm's romance with Firehawk.

The issue eventually has some great action art, but the opening has lots of problems. Someone–either Pablo Marcos or Rodriguez–doesn't do well finishing faces for Kayanan. All the civilian scenes are plagued with characters with awkward, too static expressions.

The issue's villain is goofy but just a mercenary and the action plays out rather well.

There are some hints of character development at the beginning for Ronnie and his high school problems but Cavalieri doesn't follow through. He's getting to be unlikable, mostly because he's barely present.

Ditto the turgid conspiracy subplot–it desperately needs its resolution. The sooner the better.

B- 

CREDITS

The End of His Rope; writers, Gerry Conway and Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inkers, Pablo Marcos and Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland 1 (August 2014)

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland #1

In Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, writer Eric Shanower includes something very strange, something Winsor McCay never bothered with. A narrative. This series's Nemo isn't just a kid who has amazing dreams and wakes up when he falls on the ground, he's the kid chosen by Slumberland to be the princess's playmate.

If it sounds like a Wizard of Oz-type thing, don't worry, the opening scenes in Slumberland feel like Oz too. They don't look like it; Gabriel Rodriguez does a wonderful job mimicking McCay's style. And Shanower makes up for a bland inciting action too. Once the issue itself starts mimicking the McCary's strips–each ending with Nemo waking up and getting back into the existing dream narrative the next night–it's fantastic. Shanower gets it, Rodriguez gets it.

But then the issue's over and has nothing to show for it; Shanower can't do a narrative and not have any progression.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Eric Shanower; artist, Gabriel Rodriguez; colorist, Nelson Daniel; letterer, Robbie Robbins; editors, Chris Ryall and Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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