The Shadow 4 (August 1986)

The Shadow #4

What a terrible comic. Chaykin’s handling of The Shadow reminds of someone trying to catch a hot potato; whenever he does have a hold on it, it’s not for long enough and it always leaves that all right place for an unpredictable direction.

The problem with this issue–besides the big revelations are predictable and idiotic–is the focus on the villains. Chaykin elevates villains maybe deserving of a half issue crisis to a full four issues. All the sex and drugs and violence is supposed to be enough to make up for them not having any depth, but it doesn’t. It’s not even real flash–it’s implied flash.

And Chaykin could try for flash but doesn’t. He doesn’t try with the art. After the art being The Shadow’s single exemplary factor to this point, he gives up for the last issue.

It’s not completely worthless–the art’s still more than decent–but it’s close.

D 

CREDITS

Blood & Judgment, Conclusion; writer and artist, Howard Chaykin; colorist, Alex Wald; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Andrew Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Sally of the Wasteland 1 (August 2014)

Sally of the Wasteland #1

Sally of the Wasteland is great. It's going to be hard to talk about. Writer Victor Gischler has his post-apocalyptic setting and while it's tough and vicious and has a bunch of mutated animals, it's still humanist. It's thoughtful. Gischler starts with a relatively small cast and grows out from them, revealing the full setting. Or at least as full as he's going to reveal this issue.

He also has two really strong characters (both of them female); one being the titular Sally, the other her alter ego. There's a guy involved, but it's doubtful the alter ego will be interested.

Gischler has a lot of action, a lot of great conversation. Artist Tazio Bettin handles everything well. There are occasionally loose moments where the detail isn't as strong as usual, but overall, the art's great.

The comic's only detriment is the post-apocalyptic nature but Gischler's definitely bumping its ceiling.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; colorist, Jon Chapple; editor, Steve White; publisher, Titan Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 39 (September 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #39

Even though Conway tries a few things, the issue doesn't work out well. He's got both Martin and Ronnie playing detective, with a transformation into Firestorm a way for them to get out of trouble. It's lazy though–turning into a superhero when the detecting gets too dangerous.

And then there's Martin's love interest for the issue. Just when she starts to make an impression, Conway exits her from the issue and returns to the lame villain, the Weasel. The reveal on him is underdone, maybe because of space, maybe because not even Conway is interested.

There's a lot of Pittsburgh landmark minutiae, which makes little sense since it's New Yorker Martin identifying it all.

The worst part is when Ronnie is talking about how his dad isn't a particularly big part of his life anymore–not that the father has ever had a significant role in the comic.

Weak art too.

C- 

CREDITS

Publish or Perish or the Academic Life is Killing Me!; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, Rafael Kayanan and Mike Chen; inkers, Ian Akin and Brian Garvey; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Duncan Andrews; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

God Hates Astronauts 1 (September 2014)

God Hates Astronauts #1

I'm not sure God hates astronauts, but I'm getting the feeling he hates me. Or I just hate myself. There's no other reason I would subject myself to God Hates Astronauts.

It's a somewhat difficult comic to talk about because Ryan Browne's art is truly fantastic. His composition, his detail–his visual narrative chops aren't great but it's because his narrative is atrocious.

God Hates Astronauts reads like if Beavis and Butthead wrote a comic book. Browne's storytelling sensibilities are pretty simple–bestiality is funny. Anything related to it is funny. You don't actually have to be funny–you just reference bestiality and something is funny.

If, for whatever reason, bestiality doesn't make something funny, you have someone swear. Because swearing is funny.

God Hates Astronauts isn't offensive. It's too poorly written to be offensive. Everything is a setup for a joke, usually involving bestiality or swearing. Maybe God just hates bad writing.

F 

CREDITS

A Star is Born; writer and artist, Ryan Browne; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Chris Crank and Browne; publisher, Image Comics.

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