Moonshadow 1 (September 1994)

Moonshadow #1

For Moonshadow, writer J.M. DeMatteis doesn’t shy away from showing off the comic’s sci-fi influences. There’s a little Douglas Adams, a little Kurt Vonnegut. But DeMatteis doesn’t rely on those nods to move the story along, they’re just around to make the reader feel comfortable.

This first issue introduces Moonshadow, a half-human boy being raised in an intergalactic zoo, and his supporting cast. There’s his mother, who was a hippie on Earth, their cat, Frodo, and then Moon’s de facto best friend, Ira. Ira’s a shaggy alien who looks like Cousin It from “The Addams Family.”

Not a lot happens in the first issue, just the setup–Moon, at twelve, ready to explore the universe–and a lot of good narration from DeMatteis and some beautiful art from Jon J. Muth. The comic moves deliberately and calmly, with DeMatteis carefully including some humor and Muth delivering gorgeous pages.

A- 

CREDITS

Songs of Happy Cheer; writer, J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Jon J. Muth; letterer, Kevin Nowlan; editors, Shelly Bond, Laurie Sutton and Archie Goodwin; publisher, Vertigo.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 49 (July 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #49

It’s sort of a goofy issue, with Firestorm’s lawsuit ending in the first scene, then the rest of the issue is the Moonbow story. Conway continues the Marvel vibe–maybe it’s because Moonbow (a female college student who moonlights as a vigilante) looks like a Marvel character, but also because there’s no other vibe to the comic.

Conway doesn’t give his protagonists anything to do. Martin has a date, which Ronnie interrupts for a Firestorm outing, and Conway uses the interruption so as not to make any decisions for Martin. It’s more treading water.

There are art problems too–Pablo Marcos and Rodin Rodriguez join Machlan on inks and the issue never has a consistent look to it. Brozowski again does all right with his page composition and the comic moves at a good pace.

Even the ending, with Firestorm and Moonbow finally crossing paths, moves well.

It’s passable enough.

B- 

CREDITS

Justice: Lost and Found; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inkers, Mike Machlan, Pablo Marcos and Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

Point of Impact 1 (October 2012)

Point of Impact #1

Jay Faerber is really excited about Point of Impact, even if one doesn’t read his back matter about his inspirations. The enthusiasm is clear. Unfortunately, he’s enthusiastic about writing a really generic police procedural.

Everything is connected–a woman falls off a roof while her lover waits in a hotel room, but could she be somehow connected to the newspaper reporter Faerber is following around? And then there are the cops–the female cop knows her from yoga class and doesn’t want to give up the case. Her tough but understanding older black cop partner is there for her, but he’s not going to let her throw her career away.

Everything’s very predictable–plot, dialogue. Without artist Koray Kuranel’s high contrast style–deep blacks on pure white–Impact would disappear it’s so flimsy. Kuranel’s detail for people isn’t great but his buildings and his mood work.

It’s inoffensively bland.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Jay Faerber; artist, Koray Kuranel; letterer, Charles Pritchett; publisher, Image Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 48 (June 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #48

Firestorm hasn’t cratered or anything so severe, but Conway does seem to have found a new level for the book. It’s a little low, sure, but he’s hitting it consistently.

And even though Brozowski and Machlan leave a lot to be desired in the art–creativity–the book does look okay. It doesn’t look much like a DC comic this issue, however; it looks a lot like an eighties Spider-Man, which is fine.

Conway doesn’t do anything fresh or inventive. Firestorm is getting sued by Ronnie’s stepmother-to-be and she’s real impressed with his speech in court. Of course she’s impressed, otherwise the story might do something unexpected. Ditto the introduction of another girl in Ronnie’s life. Could she be the bow-wielding vigilante plaguing Pittsburgh’s mob?

Conway doesn’t even make that one a surprise.

It reads okay in parts, not okay in others. It’s bland superhero stuff.

B- 

CREDITS

Moonbow; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 3 (October 2014)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #3

Even though Casey is incredibly derivative–the Close Encounters nod is simultaneously cute and too much–Captain Victory continues to be a nice diversion. It’s not exactly a fun read, just because Casey doesn’t let his cast enjoy anything. There is some banter with the scientists on Earth who are looking at one of the spacecraft, but it’s over in a page.

Otherwise, the comic is very serious. And having Jim Mahfood do the adventures of a cat-man on a slightly hostile planet without any humor is too much. The comic has some great art–Fox some outstanding work–but Captain Victory isn’t actually ambitious sci-fi. It pretends to be ambitious sci-fi; Casey’s script is very traditional stuff. Even the artists’ page layouts are very traditional (even when trying to appear otherwise).

It’s an acceptable, enjoyable comic. But the artists deserve a balls to the wall script.

CREDITS

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

Sally of the Wasteland 4 (November 2014)

Sally of the Wasteland #4

It’s another solid issue of Sally. There’s a lot with her and Tommy, which is nice because Sally cares a lot about him and Gischler handles their flirtation (for the first time, joint flirtation) really well.

Most of the issue takes place in a flooded city and artist Bettin does fine with the buildings and even the mutants, but he has some problems with the cast. Their faces become too generic at times; it reads fast, which helps a lot. Until it becomes clear Gischler has written himself into a hole and he’s going to get himself out as fast as possible.

So much happens over so few pages, it reads like Gischler is getting tired, which is too bad. Sally has been a great ride–and even continues to be, albeit too fast of one here–hopefully he’s got a nice finish for the series.

It really deserves one.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; letterer, Tom Williams; publisher, Titan Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 47 (May 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #47

It’s not a bad special guest star issue, just another pointless one. Blue Devil and Firestorm are now teamed up–after a couple issues of mistaken fighting–against all of Firestorm’s villains.

Brozowski continues to do a very clean, obvious approach with the composition; he and inker Mike Machlan don’t have a single outstanding panel in the comic, but there also aren’t any lemons. It’s straightforward superhero stuff and, given there’s a hallucination sequence with demons, the art works out okay. Never anything more… but okay isn’t terrible.

As for Conway’s script… he tries a little character development (Ronnie’s dad and stepmother-to-be are hostages of all his villains, along with a mention of one of the villain’s failed rehabilitations), but it’s mostly action. It’s not great action; the giant-size computer showroom is goofy.

Like I said, it’s not too bad. It’s a guest star issue, big whoop.

B- 

CREDITS

Dead Devils Don’t Wear Blue!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland 2 (October 2014)

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland #2

Shanower is really dedicated to giving Little Nemo a narrative and it doesn’t help the comic at all. Jimmy (or Nemo) is an annoying kid who Shanower has throughout the entire issue–he’s not having a little adventure and then waking up, he’s around the reader for page after page of adventure and he’s always got something annoying to say. Instead of turning these brief annoyances into the punchline, they’re the pulse of Return to Slumberland.

It’s a far from ideal situation.

Similarly, having this kid be so upset about having to hang out with a girl (the princess) is perfectly appropriate… if Shanower wants to fit into the sexism of previous generations. It would have been something if he hadn’t wanted to embrace that deficiency.

The gorgeous Rodriguez art, meticulous not just in detail but in functioning the same way as McCay’s originals did in reading style, helps immeasurably.

B- 

CREDITS

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

Winterworld 3 (August 2014)

Winterworld #3

Even with the Guice art and some solid writing in places from Dixon, his approach to Winterworld and its revelations is getting too annoying.

The protagonists have found a wonderful refuge from the ice, but it turns out the people living there have only read an Al Gore book and now they’re crazy about global warming and, apparently, crucifying the heroine.

Maybe if there were more grand action from Guice and not so much of the settlement, which looks like the Greek island from Mamma Mia!, the comic would be more compelling. But without any great visuals and such deceptive, manipulative plotting from Dixon, he gets tired fast.

There’s an unnatural stop and go to the pace–Dixon revs up to get to the cliffhanger, for instance, while dragging through other scenes. The comic always comes off too controlled; Dixon and Guice know what they’re doing, maybe even too well.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Chuck Dixon; artist, Butch Guice; colorist, Diego Rodriguez; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, David Hedgecock; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star Spangled War Stories: Futures End 1 (November 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories: Futures End #1

I’m a little shocked, though maybe I shouldn’t be. For their “Futures End” tie-in with G.I. Zombie, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti tell the last G.I. Zombie story. Maybe all the “Futures End” are the last issues in imaginarily long series (I don’t think I’ll find out). But what they do here works out.

They’ve got their butt-kicking protagonist, G.I. Zombie, who doesn’t just fist fight or monster fight, he also gets in an old crop duster and has an air battle too. It’s a lot for artist Scott Hampton and the art is fantastic. There’s a lot going on; Hampton excels at it.

But there’s also the sidekick and the nemesis, not to mention the end of the world. It actually would have worked better as a first issue than the third of Gray, Palmiotti and Hampton’s Star Spangled War Stories but whatever… it’s absolutely great comics.

A 

CREDITS

United States of the Dead; writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, David Piña and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Ragnarök 2 (September 2014)

Ragnarok #2

Why do I even talk? Why do I ever say nice things like Ragnarök isn’t going to be some non-Marvel Thor knock-off?

Because I then end up with egg on my face when Simonson does the big reveal this issue. No, the comic’s not about the lady elf who kicks butt or whatever, it’s actually about a zombie Thor resurrected in a strange land after the Asgardian gods have fallen.

Yawn.

And Simonson spends the entire issue setting up the reveal of it being Thor, even after he brings the hammer back into it. So the entire comic is one scene, the resolution to the previous issue’s cliffhanger. There is a talking rat, however, and I like rats. But a talking rat is not enough to make this comic–or this series–worthwhile.

Maybe Simonson think it’s his great last Thor comic but the deceptive narration kills it.

C- 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Walt Simonson; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, John Workman; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Pop 3 (October 2014)

Pop #3

Even though Copland’s art is better than last issue–he gets really dark here and has a nice panel layout for all the talking heads–Pop has sort of, well, popped. Pires spends more time with not just his supporting cast, but with background characters than he does with his protagonists. He has nothing for them to do here. Except stand around and wait for something to happen.

At one time, it seemed like Pires and Copland were going to explore the mystical with Pop. Instead, now Pires concentrates on making it all realistic and rational, scientifically explained. It’s rather boring. The art’s nice, but the story’s boring.

Worse, there are reminders of when Pires was going to do something more with his protagonists. It’s a concept without anything else to it, which is unfortunate because Copland deserves better and so do the characters Pires created in the first issue.

C 

CREDITS

Shot in the Dark; writer, Curt Pires; artist, Jason Copland; colorist, Pete Toms; letterer, Ryan Ferrier; editors, Roxy Polk, Aaron Walker and Dave Marshall; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

A Town Called Dragon 2 (October 2014)

A Town Called Dragon #2

How long can Winick go with conversation between interesting towns people and absolutely no story? For 95% of the issue. And he and artist Shaw waste an entire page with the dragon killing a cow. Not sure why it’s a good splash, unless Shaw really wanted to draw a dying cow.

There’s not a lot with the characters from last issue. Winick reduces them to stereotypes–black guy, drunk guy, art girl, crazy guy–but there’s a whole thing with the sheriff’s kids blowing stuff up. Like they’re training to be terrorists or something. I’m sure it’ll come in handy later for fighting dragons.

Unfortunately, the new characters are all weaker than the previously established characters. And Winick rushes the introduction of the dragon. It’s a little unclear if Winick is trying to sell a movie or a TV show, because it’s not a comic, which is really too bad.

C+ 

CREDITS

You Can’t Fight a Monster; writer, Judd Winick; penciller, Geoff Shaw; colorist, Jamie Grant; letterer, Sean Konot; editors, Greg Tumbarello and Bob Schreck; publisher, Legendary Comics.

Letter 44 11 (October 2014)

Letter 44 #11

Soule goes a little nuts with his application of Murphy’s law this issue. There’s a great scene where the President’s former chief of staff–recovering, somewhat, from his attack–lays out the President’s options and there aren’t many (or any). Things are going from bad to worse for the First Lady too, not to mention the soldiers in Afghanistan and then the astronauts.

It’s a great issue in a lot of ways, with Soule letting the reader know, decisively, bad things are going to happen. It’s sometimes hard to remember how serious the comic would be with a different artist; Alburquerque adds a certain cartoonish quality overall (and, again, way too much with those goofy soldier costumes) so there’s a bit of a disconnect.

As for where the comic can go… Soule’s gimmick (Obama, Bush, aliens) is over. He’s into his own territory now and he’s doing quite well there.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; penciller, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Crank!; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

She-Hulk 9 (December 2014)

She-Hulk #9

The trial of Steve Rogers continues and… Soule fumbles it. There’s no other word for how he handles She-Hulk defending Captain America in a civil suit against Daredevil. He fumbles it.

Because there’s the accusation against Steve Rogers and then there are two possibilities–one, Soule is going for a Mark Millar/Brian Michael Bendis “break the Internet in half” crap on Captain America, which seems unlikely (so his responsibility is just to make it seem possible) or, two, he’s going to drag out the courtroom stuff and reveal Captain America had a great, valiant plan up his sleeve the whole time.

It’s hard to dislike the comic, just because the beginning court scenes are so good (before Soule reveals too much with Matt and Jennifer having an entirely unprofessional chat) and because Pulido’s art is so strong. He does wonders with the courtroom scenes.

But it’s dramatically tepid.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; artist, Javier Pulido; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Sheltered 12 (October 2014)

Sheltered #12

Can Sheltered work if Brisson doesn’t have any actual sympathetic characters left? He’s bringing in the police, he’ll be bringing in the FBI, the ATF, some kind of child protective services–the issue reads real fast as Brisson and Christmas get to the ending, which sets up the grand finale arc–but he’s taken the “good guy” out of the equation.

So now it’s the man versus a bunch of brainwashed teenagers who killed or helped kill their parents. Who cares. Let them die; the drama is gone.

It’s still a well-executed issue, with the cops not listening to the good girl–who started the series as the protagonist but now I can’t even remember her name–until it’s a little too late. And there are likable cops in danger and all, but… who cares.

Sheltered’s successes aren’t insignificant but the traditional narrative finish is going to hurt.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Johnnie Christmas; colorist, Shari Chankhamma; editor, Paul Allor; publisher, Image Comics.

Starlight 6 (October 2014)

Starlight #6

You know, I hate Mark Millar. I hate how he was able to goof around with Starlight–not just drag out the series, but be really late on the last issue–and how he’s still able to deliver exactly what he needs to deliver on this finale.

Maybe it works better because he’s already disappointed in other issues, so when this one comes through, it works out. But I think it’s more because Millar actually understands how to write mainstream heroic moments and he just lets himself get too confused, too commercial. Starlight is definitely mainstream, definitely commercial, but it’s also got Millar taking the time with his protagonist.

Even though he’s been through a problematic six issue limited series, Duke McQueen’s a great character and Millar wants to celebrate him–and the time the reader’s spent with him.

So it’s cheap and easy, but it sure does taste good.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Ive Svorcina; letterer, Marko Sunjic; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 12 (October 2014)

Lazarus #12

If you had told me twelve issues in, Lazarus would be a comic I just had to read first the week it came out, I never would have believed it. You can go back and read the rather negative posts about the first five issues.

But Rucka has found the series. Especially with this arc about the political intrigue with the families; it’s a little soapier and a little showier, but it works out beautifully. He gives Lark the most basic action–the Lazari sparring with each other in the gym–but then gives him some great talking heads and a grand ball to render. Lark does a fantastic job.

The change in the comic seems to be from Rucka’s concentration on the intrigue–and Forever’s character development–instead of him having to guide the reader’s judgment with the families. Or something. Who knows. Who cares. It’s an excellent comic.

CREDITS

Conclave, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

The Life After 3 (September 2014)

The Life After #3

Ah, the systems of a human imagined afterlife… such compelling ideas, such boring narrative. Fialkov does have some all right ideas and Gabo does illustrate them well, but The Life After is stumbling.

The protagonist–Jude (still maybe for Jesus, but Fialkov’s waiting)–and his sidekick–Hemingway, who makes references to the Spanish Civil War in about the only subtle thing Fialkov does–walk through purgatory some more. They aren’t exploring, they aren’t searching. They’re wandering. And the comic is a little lost.

Fialkov’s biggest problem as a writer seems to be a lot of good ideas, some really good characterizations and no idea how to marry the two into a narrative. The comic isn’t exactly boring; instead, it’s meandering.

When Fialkov does get to the cliffhanger–after teasing a huge action sequence and then not delivering–it’s decidedly unexciting. Cliffhangers need to be parts of compelling narratives after all.

B- 

CREDITS

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

Flash Gordon 6 (October 2014)

Flash Gordon #6

Parker does a great job with the Arboria adventure–with Dale getting to hang out with some Hawkmen and then rescue Flash and Zarkov on her own. There’s a lot of personality for the Arborians–well, the people with the wings, less so for the sirens who don’t have wings. Parker keeps it relatively simple; maybe too much so, but it’s Flash Gordon and it works with simplicity.

He resolves the cliffhanger, moves into Dale’s adventure, has some good laughs at Flash and, especially, Zarkov’s expenses and then brings in Vultan. Now, he and Shaner don’t do a lot of obvious Flash Gordon: The Movie references but something about Vultan’s introduction just screams Brian Blessed. It’s a wonderful touch.

The final has a too abrupt cliffhanger, but then there’s some nice epilogue art with Ming from Greg Smallwood. And Parker’s finally giving Ming some real personality.

It works out well.

A- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jeff Parker and Jordie Bellaire; artists, Evan Shaner and Greg Smallwood; colorist, Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Ms. Marvel 9 (December 2014)

Ms. Marvel #9

It’s secret origin of Kamala Khan time. Does she particularly need a secret origin? Maybe. But the way Wilson brings in the Inhumans–they’re not quite deus ex machina, but they’re a very convienient way to tie Ms. Marvel into big Marvel publishing events–doesn’t take advantage of anything.

Wilson literally beams Kamala, her admirer and Lockjaw over to Inhuman City for a quick expository scene with some decent Star Wars jokes. Much better than the Star Wars joke later in the issue, when Kamala returns to her nemesis’s hideout to free the kids. It’s a messy scene, leading to a pat cliffhanger. Wilson doesn’t have the issue plotted well at all.

Worse, Alphona’s artwork doesn’t work out–not in the opening cliffhanger resolution at the high school and not later when Kamala’s talking to her parents. The panels are too busy, too full.

It’s fine, but definitely not standout.

B 

CREDITS

Generation Why, Part Two; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Adrian Alphona; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 3 (September 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #3

Something very bad happens this issue of Transformers vs. G.I. Joe. It becomes inane. Writers Scioli and Barber don’t exactly stop giving characters arcs of their own, they just get rid of having the overall issue story have anything to do with characters.

It’s full of annoying big action moments too, where Scioli lets the art get too confusing and never takes his time with anything. The issue gets worse as it goes along too, as Scioli and Barber continuously make bad choices.

It’s unfortunate. But maybe the concept just couldn’t work out to an actual comic book series. The characters are all so obnoxious, only the end of the world from the attacking Megatron would make them sympathetic. And, even then, not because of any work the writers do, but maybe Scioli could make it work.

As is, however, the comic has prematurely run its course. It’s a shame.

D 

CREDITS

Writers, Tom Scioli and John Barber; artist, colorist and letterer, Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes 1 (November 2014)

The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes #1

Besides the awkward bookends, which writer Grant Morrison seems to be writing as close to pulp as possible, The Society of Super-Heroes is an excellent Multiversity tie-in. Chris Sprouse is the perfect artist for the time period–it’s set in the forties or fifties, with some familiar heroes in newly designed, functional, period appropriate garb.

Morrison is real fast when it comes to establishing the characters–the Al Pratt Atom and Doc Fate get about the most attention–and there’s a mix of pulp sensibility and old science fiction magazine stories. It works out pretty well in the setup, but then Morrison and Sprouse get to the action and nothing else really matters. The comic is fast and entertaining.

There’s some rather nice work in the dialogue too, with Morrison handling the large cast through brief expository dialogue.

Until the really lame, tying to the greater event denouement. Until then, it’s quite good.

B 

CREDITS

Conquerors from the Counter-World; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inkers, Karl Story and Walden Wong; colorist, Dave McCaig; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editor, Rickey Purdin; publisher, DC Comics.

Ghosted 14 (October 2014)

Ghosted #14

Williamson finally finds a great cliffhanger for Ghosted. What’s so strange about it is how it continues the trend of somehow being either too intimate or too grandiose; but maybe for the first time he’s got his lead in real, scary danger. Ghosted is a supernatural heist story and Jackson is the mastermind and Williamson has spent the series setting him up as being smarter than everyone else.

So finally putting him in an impossible situation and having it work? Great cliffhanger.

The rest of the comic is excellent, opening with various action sequences–Anderson in angry ghost form is awesome–before getting into some character level arguing. There’s not a lot of room for character development this issue, but Williamson does at least acknowledge it a little in the dialogue asides. There’s no time for a break.

And then the conclusion… starts quiet, gets loud. It’s one of Williamson’s best issues.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Goran Sudzuka; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Sons of Anarchy 14 (October 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #14

Brisson wraps up the arc wonderfully. Everything comes to a collision, there's lots and lots of action, lots and lots of violence. So much violence and action, in fact, it becomes very hard to follow the art. Couceiro just has too many bikers to draw and Michael Spicer's colors are so dark, it's difficult to keep them apart.

So, even though Couceiro's art is strong as usual, it's the reason the issue isn't a total success. Too many pages have to ride on momentum to get through the visual confusion. Brisson has reminders throughout scenes and so on–and the cuts back and forth between sets of characters is good–but there are just too many players in motion. Eventually, people start getting lost.

But it all does wrap up and it's impressive how Brisson makes it happen. He intricately plots these arcs and the pay-off makes it all worthwhile.

Great comics.

CREDITS

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

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 2 (August 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #2

Even though I can remember having some of the toys–or wanting them–I can’t remember the name of the Transformers planet. But all the action takes place there, with Lady Jane leading an attack force of Joes who are trying to green the planet to take out the evil robot aliens.

Barber and Scioli’s script takes the regular G.I. Joe and Transformers mythology into great account, but there’s also an element of humor involved with how they present the absurdity of the situation. It creates a fantastic tone–it’s never realistic, but they throw in seriously vocabulary to show they know it can’t be taken too seriously.

It’s an all-action issue, with some big reveals at the end–but still no Autobot team-up with the Joes–and Scioli has some wonderful art. My favorite has to be Lady Jane zooming on a motorcycle, jumping off a Transformer.

B+ 

CREDITS

Wheeljacked; writers, Tom Scioli and John Barber; artist, colorist and letterer, Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Tales of Honor 5 (October 2014)

Tales of Honor #5

There’s some great stuff in the issue, specifically where Hawkins describes how space battle works between ships. He does some quick, but detailed exposition, then carefully maneuvers the dialogue to reinforce what the reader already has passing familiarity with. It works out very well.

And the issue, which takes place over an hour or two, works out. It’s tense and compelling, with Hawkins never giving any comic relief. There’s no relief valve for the tension, except maybe through the art, which is never good enough to transport the reader to the battle. There are some good establishing shots in the issue, for double-page spreads, but it’s otherwise the same weak Jeong art as always.

The problems come at the end of the issue, with Hawkins wrapping things up too quickly. He’s been telling a story directly related to the bookends and not clear enough about the important connections throughout.

B 

CREDITS

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

Batgirl 35 (December 2014)

Batgirl #35

It's the all-new Batgirl, which is mostly just a “Veronica Mars” in college where Babs solves hip crimes–the supervillain this issue is hacking phones and putting the embarrassing private information online. Why? Because he's a bad guy. And he's got a cybernetic brain and can hold his own with Batgirl in a fight.

Writers Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher write a painfully hip comic for hip comic reading college girls, but they do so with fervor and a real understanding of how to tell a story. For all the visual, modern gimmicks, this issue of Batgirl is just seventies DC Comics updated. The dressing is just a little different.

Babs Tarr's art is fine–Stewart handles the page layouts. Stewart and Fletcher do it like an episode of “Sherlock” how Babs sees the world with her photographic memory.

It feels a little too like Kate Bishop Hawkeye but it's successful enough.

CREDITS

Burned; writers, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher; pencillers, Stewart and Babs Tarr; inker, Tarr; colorist, Maris Wicks; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Dave Wielgosz and Chris Conroy; publisher, DC Comics.

Ghosted 13 (September 2014)

Ghosted #13

Williamson keeps this issue in constant motion. Even the expository scenes are in motion–with both Williamson and Gianfelice putting the emphasis on keeping things moving. The pace is important because Williamson needs to get in an unexpected turn regarding the villain of the arc before the cliffhanger.

On the way to that cliffhanger, there’s time for Jackson to bond with his new crew, the old witch who gives them information and the ghost hanging over his shoulder. Williamson maintains a certain level of danger throughout, but it’s always relatively funny… if dangerous. The issue does open, after all, with Jackson basically revealed as doubly impervious to physical and magical threats.

Given the reveals in the last few pages, the issue probably qualifies as a bridging issue but Williamson does such a good job with the trip across said bridge, it never feels like it.

Ghosted is a sturdy read.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Goran Sudzuka; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Big Trouble in Little China 5 (October 2014)

Big Trouble in Little China #5

Big Trouble isn't exactly in big trouble yet, but Carpenter and Powell's plotting is definitely getting long in the tooth. The comic opens with a very funny trip through various hells; this trip seems like it should be setting up the showdown between Lo Pan and Jack Burton. But it doesn't.

Instead, Jack is on the road again, this time with a different sidekick. If Powell and Carpenter's plan is just to send Jack away from Chinatown with one person and then back to pick up another, it needs to be handled a lot more obviously. This issue is also the first without some funny and slightly disquieting flashback to Jack's past.

It's a fine enough issue–and Churilla does get some excellent action sequences–but the series has stalled out a bit. It remains to be seen if there's anywhere for the comic to go… all of a sudden, seems not.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, John Carpenter and Eric Powell; artist, Brian Churilla; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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