Nailbiter 7 (November 2014)

Nailbiter #7

Williamson does a Powers homage, with Brian Michael Bendis guest starring as himself. I think the Warren Ellis Powers issue is number seven too (yep, thanks Google). Bendis is in town researching a book and Williamson uses him as the protagonist. It’s a way to delay a return to norm for the comic–only the epilogue has the FBI agent back in lead–and also for Williamson to have some fun.

However, the looser issue–it’s basically a comic relief issue in a series where there’s no real comic relief–feels somewhat self-indulgent. Like Williamson is having a second helping of chocolate cake where the frosting’s real good, but it’s not actually filling.

The cuteness aside, there’s a lot of fluff–like Bendis and the Nailbiter talking about comics–and it’s well-written fluff. It just seems like a holding pattern.

Still, not bad; nice art from Henderson throughout.

CREDITS

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

Nailbiter 6 (October 2014)

Nailbiter #6

All of a sudden, Nailbiter is something different. Williamson changes protagonists and gives the issue a narrator in Alice, the teenager (or slightly older) possible future serial killer. She teams up with the sheriff to track down some crazy woman.

It feels very distinct and separate from everything else in the series so far–even though the characters continue, the former protagonist isn’t in the issue. His story line isn’t continued or really even referenced. Instead of the serial killers in town being so important, the town becomes important. It’s a very nice issue.

Williamson’s writing of Alice is excellent, especially with her rash behavior. He has a great way of making the behavior changes flow, while still being visible and concerning.

There’s some fantastic art from Henderson this issue.

Regardless if it’s just a done-in-one or a new direction, Williamson’s definitely got lots of space with Nailbiter.

CREDITS

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

Judge Dredd 3 (January 1984)

Judge Dredd #3

It’s an awesome issue with Judge Death getting freed. The story has clear chapters, from the original 2000 AD progs, but the way Wagner brings it together–the changing focus on the first few–the both awesome and lackluster finish… it works out beautifully.

The issue also brings back Anderson, after her brush with Judge Death, and gives her and Dredd a rather amusing reunion. There’s no tenderness to it, which just makes it all the better. Wagner does get in some tenderness–not really towards one another, but Dredd letting his guard down for a moment–towards the end.

The cohesive story–the lackey breaking Death out, the revelation of the rest of the villains, the revelation of their plan. Wagner does really well with his plotting. He never rushes, never tries too hard.

And the Bolland art is gorgeous; both futuristic and horrific. It’s a great comic book.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artist, Brian Bolland; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame and Tony Jacob; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Moonshadow 4 (December 1994)

Moonshadow #4

This issue has Moonshadow and Ira getting forced into military service. It’s an intergalactic war, which gives Muth a lot of great stuff to draw. Moonshadow is conceptually low-tech and almost junky in how it shows extraterrestrial civilization, but Muth does find occasion for some really beautiful details. Space travel through individual bubbles, for example, is breathtaking.

DeMatteis has a lot about war, which he always tells from Moon’s romanticized point of view, even when Moon doesn’t think he’s being romantic. There’s a great little subplot for Ira too. DeMatteis tells it over a page or two–Moonshadow is told in summary, with short emphasized scenes. DeMatteis sometimes focuses these well, sometimes poorly. This issue he focuses them well throughout.

The most affecting part of the issue takes place in flashback, one of Moon’s mother’s memories. DeMatteis forces this flashback (as he does them all) but the content’s strong.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Crying of the Wind; writer, J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Jon J. Muth; letterer, Kevin Nowlan; editors, Shelly Bond, Laurie Sutton and Archie Goodwin; publisher, Vertigo.

Judge Dredd 2 (December 1983)

Judge Dredd #2

This issue has stories where Dredd is stationed on the moon. There’s a bit too much of the Wild West mentality to it–which early 2000 A.D. progs often did with Americans in the future, so I guess it fits; the cowboy hats are still annoying.

The first story has Dredd dealing with a disaster caused by some bank robberies. Their comeuppance is a little lackluster–Wagner really likes the dry humor in this issue’s four stories. He goes too far with it most of the time.

In a two-part story, Wagner compares televised athletics and war on the moon–it’s supposed to be more humane, of course. Dredd keeping his helmet on while in a soldier uniform is goofy, but it’s okay.

Even the best story–Dredd’s robot gets a romantic interest–has its problems.

The last story’s a predictable, if amusing, bank robbery one.

Great art throughout.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artist, Brian Bolland; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame and Tony Jacob; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Moonshadow 3 (November 1994)

Moonshadow #3

Things get a little too slow this issue, with Moon stuck in an asylum and Ira, his combination sidekick and antagonist, has to break him out. Why? Because Ira needs Moon to work odd jobs to support them. In the meantime, Moon has some encounters with his fellow inmates and there’s a lovely sequence when he plays the flute for them.

Muth’s art for that sequence is gorgeous. It flows, which is sort of strange, since the second half of the issue has a lot of action and a lot of examples of Muth not flowing. He does straight action scenes, very realistic painted panels. They’re technically good, but a little too static. It doesn’t help DeMatteis’s script kind of runs around in a circle too.

If there had been something along the way, something significant for Moon, it would’ve worked out a whole lot better. Instead, it’s gorgeous, troubled.

B 

CREDITS

The Crying of the Wind; writer, J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Jon J. Muth; letterer, Kevin Nowlan; editors, Shelly Bond, Laurie Sutton and Archie Goodwin; publisher, Vertigo.

Judge Dredd 1 (November 1983)

Judge Dredd #1

Of the three stories in this issue–this Judge Dredd series being a reprint series, the first one is the best, but the third one has the best writing from John Wagner.

The first story introduces Judge Death. With Brian Bolland on the art–for all the stories–Judge Death is extremely detailed, extremely realistic, extremely creepy. The story takes an interesting turn at the end, with Wagner deftly letting Judges Dredd and Anderson in on something the reader (and everyone else) finds out later. Wagner just doesn’t do the “Dredd coda” well.

The second story is a futuristic murder mystery/conspiracy thing. It’s perfectly fine, with some nice art from Bolland. It just isn’t memorable past some of the future details.

The final story–Dredd versus a street gang–has Wagner presenting the series’s mindset beautifully. And he scores with the “Dredd coda,” the stories’ capstone on the law.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artist, Brian Bolland; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

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