Ms. Marvel 12 (May 2015)

Ms. Marvel #12

It’s an extremely impressive issue of Ms. Marvel from Wilson. Loki–the good version of Loki–guest-stars and gets involved with the life of Bruno and, through Bruno, Kamala, and through Kamala and Bruno, Ms. Marvel. It’s a classic Spider-Man coincidence but Wilson adorns it just right and homages with a great creativity.

There’s also the guest art from Elmo Bondoc. Bondoc’s art is outstanding, but thanks to Ian Herring’s gentle colors. Almost watercolor-y.

This issue of Ms. Marvel is where the series has arrived and achieved. It’s a Marvel comic, done with this not-Marvel art style, about a non-Marvel style hero; the art perfectly matches the story. But it’s not Marvel formula. It’s Wilson and her editors doing something really amazing with Ms. Marvel.

The last time Marvel was this cool was on The Mighty Thor. It’s been way too long between the two.

CREDITS

Loki in Love; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Elmo Bondoc; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 2 (April 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Cruel, cruel cliffhanger. So cruel.

After an awesome–Doreen would agree with the adjective–issue of Squirrel Girl, writer North finds the perfect spot for a cliffhanger. Not so much for what’s going to happen next, but because of what’s happened just before. The way North plots the issue is fantastic. There’s a combination of Doreen in college, Doreen in the Marvel Universe as Squirrel Girl, Doreen as her own as Squirrel Girl.

Well, with Tippy-Toe, of course.

North has the most fun with the plot in the second half of the issue, with Doreen having to break into Stark Tower, but his best work is in how he establishes her friendship with roommate Nancy. North’s use of thought balloons reminds why they’re a great tool in the comic writer’s cache.

Henderson’s handling of Doreen on art is the important thing. The expressions have to work. And they do.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Jacob Thomas and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Gotham by Midnight 4 (April 2015)

Gotham by Midnight #4

Well, Templesmith gets to draw the Spectre and it mostly works out. He gets to draw big giant Spectre even, which I wasn’t expecting. And big giant Spectre is like a big giant monster, fighting another big giant monster. Gotham by Midnight is definitely distinct. Even if Templesmith’s Batwing looks like a Batarang. And his panel arrangement doesn’t change to accommodate a giant-size character.

As for Fawkes, he jumps around the cast but doesn’t give them anything important to do. Story arc is almost over, it’s time to hurry. There are a couple hints of character development, but nothing substantial.

There’s also some of the explanation for the arc’s supernatural events. It seems way too large scale for what Fawkes has been doing in the comic. I’m curious to see how he finishes it, but will keep coming back for the Templesmith art regardless. It’s always interesting to see.

CREDITS

We Fight What We Become; writer, Ray Fawkes; artist, Ben Templesmith; letterer, Saida Temofonte; editors, Dave Wielgosz and Rachel Gluckstern; publisher, DC Comics.

Abigail and the Snowman 3 (February 2015)

Abigail and the Snowman #3

This issue of Abigail and the Snowman is Langridge’s strongest–it’s also the penultimate issue and the one where it’s clear Langridge could definitely keep this going longer. The issue’s kind of high adventure; it’s the expository in front of high adventure, but thanks to Langridge’s abilities, it moves beautifully.

The issue’s full of fantastic moments for Abigail. He even develops her father’s character through the interactions with her. It’s exceptionally thoughtful stuff. Langridge doesn’t even save his big moments for full page panels (just the action); the little character stuff he has in small panels, never breaking stride to draw attention to himself.

The entire comic takes place–with the exception of a few pages of Abigail and Claude playing–in one night. And not a long night. Langridge gets in a bunch of information (including Claude’s flashback) and keeps that great pace.

It’s great stuff, page after page.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Fred Stresing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

Batgirl 39 (April 2015)

Batgirl #39

There’s a shocking amount of this comic book I don’t care about in the least. I’ve been tiring of Stewart and Fletcher’s somewhat incompetent Barbara, but at least they acknowledge her here. Sure, they make too many leaps of logic to get there, but they finally get to something.

The problem with Batgirl has been too much style over any substance. The creators are soft-relaunching a character (who’d just been soft-relaunched), integrating a whole bunch of difficult to mesh history, and trying to make the character younger. And they didn’t want to spend any time on Barbara. She had all the personality of a romantic lead in a gum commercial.

Do they give her a bunch more personality here? No. But Stewart and Fletcher do show they might be going somewhere and not somewhere defined by the comic’s pseudo-Brooklyn hipster thing. They’re working on their story.

Finally.

CREDITS

Batgirl vs. Burnside; 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.

MPH 5 (February 2015)

MPH #5

Millar gets to a nice manipulative finish on MPH. He does give Fegredo a bunch of cool stuff to draw and the art’s great, but Millar has enough story for another five issues and he doesn’t want to tell it.

He suggests MPH is deeper for his lack of interest in proper storytelling, but it’s really not. It’s just more manipulative.

Half the issue is spent on a super-speed fight sequence. It’s pretty cool, actually. If it took the whole issue, it’d be even more cool. And then Millar could save the two big reveals for another issue, which would’ve worked a lot better.

But it still wouldn’t have been good. Because one of Millar’s reveals is a huge one and he tries to pass it off as small potatoes. It should be the defining element of the series; it’s not. Because it’s not flashy enough.

Still, beautiful art.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorists, Peter Doherty and Mike Spicer; letterer, Doherty; editors, Lucy Unwin and Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Ms. Marvel 11 (April 2015)

Ms. Marvel #11

Wilson wraps up this Ms. Marvel arc rather nicely. In fact, she finally does what I said Ms. Marvel should’ve done issues ago–she calls the cops. Not sure why she couldn’t call Wolverine, who’d be guest star value (oh, wait, I heard he’s dead), but still… calling for help’s a good move.

Alphona has some great art moments at the end of the issue. The art’s fine–even if the action scenes are confusing and not particularly rewarding–but the art at the end on all the characters (there are about two dozen roaming around) is great. There’s a lot of personality to that scene.

And the comic’s got personality too. Wilson’s final speeches for Kamala are a little much, but they’re sincere as far as the character goes.

The story arc ends with a big bang, but not much character development. Ms. Marvel is a sturdy comic book.

CREDITS

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

Sons of Anarchy 18 (February 2015)

Sons of Anarchy #18

It’s an okay flashback issue from Brisson and Bergara. It might have more meaning if one is familiar with the “Sons of Anarchy” television program, not just the comic book. I don’t even remember the protagonist of this issue–Happy–having much to do in the comic overall.

In this issue, set in the eighties, he goes to prison and goes a little crazy and runs off and joins SAMCRO. Brisson does reasonably well making the character sympathetic, but he’s never likable. He’s just surrounded by bigger jerks, not necessarily more dangerous ones. Brisson doesn’t have time to explore that aspect of the story, which is too bad. It’s more interesting than the plot.

Some of that interest problem is because of Bergara. His scenes set in prison come off like Archie In Oz just because the faces are too genial. Works against the mood.

And the ending’s too rushed.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Matías Bergara; colorist, Paul Little; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Mary Gumport and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Letter 44 14 (February 2015)

Letter 44 #14

It’s a fairly decent fill-in issue on Letter 44. Drew Moss guest illustrates a flashback to before the mission issue. Soule recaps the relationship between Overholt and Willets; I don’t remember them on the mission. Soule expects a lot from his monthly readers. Letter 44 isn’t written for the trade in terms of plotting, but definitely in the details.

Moss’s art is nearly okay. It could be stronger in a lot of places, but it moves reasonably well. Willets, the enlisted mechanic savant, asks too many questions about Project Monolith and gets in trouble. Overholt is around to help him out. Neither have much character depth and Soule overdoes the military dialogue. He has to overdo it, actually. Otherwise the issue wouldn’t work.

Between Soule’s thoughtfulness and deliberate storytelling–and Moss’s amiable, if lacking, art–the issue’s fine. The plot and revealations aren’t compelling, but don’t need to be.

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; artist, Drew Moss; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Crank!; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

She-Hulk 12 (April 2015)

She-Hulk #12

Well, there’s quite a bit to the last issue of She-Hulk, where Soule reveals the great conspiracy but not the paralegal’s secret. The conspiracy has to do with magic and some other stuff and Soule assumes the reader remembers small details from eight issues ago. Not enough expository reminding and it affects how the issue reads.

Of course, Pulido’s art also affects the issue’s reading experience, simply because he’s not doing very much. Most of the issue takes place in the middle of nowhere North Dakota. Even when Pulido does have scenery, he doesn’t do much with it. The whole thing–even if Soule and Pulido intentionally wanted to focus on the characters–feels rushed.

And the resolution isn’t much of a pay-off. It answers all the questions, but it’s a pat resolution.

Soule and Pulido close genially enough. She-Hulk’s been mostly amusing and occasionally awesome.

CREDITS

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

Judge Dredd 33 (July 1986)

Judge Dredd #33

This issue of Dredd seems to be the strange issue, like they found all the absurdly funny strips from 2000 AD and gave them their own issue. And artist Ron Smith works for it. He has a jovial, cartoon-y style. He doesn’t draw Dredd very well, but everything else is good. Dredd–and the rest of Judges–seem inserted and static.

Wagner and Grant’s stories range from what happens with the morbidly obese following the Apocalypse War, where the foodstuffs of the future come from (it’s oddly prescient), then a rabid robo-dog one (probably the weakest) and one about plastic surgery to all look alike. Besides the robo-dog story, Wagner and Grant are certainly getting better at their sci-fi elements. Sure, Dredd and the Judge stuff feels shoehorned in, but shoehorned into a thought-out story.

Mega-City One’s not quite plausible, but can be intriguing.

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artist, Ron Smith; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame and Tony Jacob; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Ghosted 17 (February 2015)

Ghosted #17

Ghosted feels like a much different comic book with Vladimir Krstic Laci on art. It feels like a seventies ghost comic, slick in a classical sense, not a hip sense. It works against a bunch of the book’s concepts and makes Ghosted a much more entertaining read this month. Just the way Laci breaks out the action alone changes the experience.

The issue has Jackson going over to the ghost town to fight his nemesis. It’s a lot of great talking heads because Laci makes everything feel a little uneasy and Williamson’s ominous dialogue is strong. When the supernatural does come in, Williamson and Laci handle it really well too.

I’m not sure if Laci’s the best fit for the book, which doesn’t have to be homage to seventies horror comics, but it’s a nice approach to this particular story line. It fits it better. Realistic fantastical stuff going on.

CREDITS

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

Satellite Sam 11 (February 2015)

Satellite Sam #11

The writing on this issue of Satellite Sam is excellent. Fraction hits every subplot, sort of checks its temperature, stirs it a little, then combines a couple of them into the final scene of the comic.

There’s a lot of plotting and a lot of unfortunate choices and situations. It’s soapy without seeming too soapy. The S&M and drug abuse and swinging certainly give Sam some edge, but there’s also how Fraction approaches the subjects, sans exploitation.

This issue has some character development, a bunch of surprises, another really good scene for the black actor passing as white. He’s practically Fraction’s only sympathetic character in the whole comic. Everyone else has issues. He’s also one things distracting from the comic’s soapiness.

This issue also has Chaykin’s worst art on the comic so far. He’s getting lazy, relying way too much on bad digital effects. But, otherwise, Sam is rocking.

CREDITS

Good Morning, Good Morning; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Velvet 9 (February 2015)

Velvet #9

It’s a decent, not great, issue of Velvet. Brubaker’s resolution to his rip-off of The Rock works out a whole lot better than I would have expected; he and Epting do a nice talking heads comic with the Sean Connery (sorry, Patrick Stewart more like) telling Velvet just enough of what she thinks she knows. And Brubaker writes the hell out of the exposition. He had me trying to anticipate the twists, which I don’t usually care about.

Epting doesn’t get much action to draw–there are some flashbacks, but they’re limited; the way he draws the conversations is fantastic. His art keeps the pace on those long sequences. Brubaker can be interesting, but without engaged art, talking heads don’t work.

The cliffhanger is a let down, of course, as is the way Brubaker foreshadows the cliffhanger in the cutaway scene just before it.

Still, it’s mostly good stuff.

CREDITS

The Secret Lives of Dead Men, Part Four; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Steve Epting; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor; Eric Stephenson; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 10 (February 2015)

Nailbiter #10

It’s a rather good issue of Nailbiter. I’m beginning to think the problem with Williamson’s writing isn’t too many ideas (or a lack of them on the fast issues), but a pacing one. On Nailbiter, his two issues would work better as one than two. The cliffhanger aside. Or maybe muted.

This issue has the resolution to the school bus kidnapping and then a cliffhanger setting up the series for a big change. Depending on how Williamson handles it. But it’s a really good cliffhanger; Williamson leads up to it intellectually, not through forced events. He thinks his way through Nailbiter, which is what makes the book work in general.

It’s a more than silly concept, handled very realistically in terms of visual tone and character interactions, and the balance succeeds because of Williamson’s writing.

Yay, Nailbiter.

Unfortunately, Henderson is really pressed for time here. He often skips drawing faces.

CREDITS

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

Robocop 8 (February 2015)

Robocop #8

I’m not sure how I’d describe Killian, Williamson’s long-in-the-tooth antagonist in Robocop, but soap opera tough guy might be the best description. There’s no depth to the character, which is starting to get really annoying. Though Magno’s design for the him does look a lot like an eighties tough guy, which fits in with it being a sequel to Robocop.

This issue has Williamson lift a scene from Batman Returns to get stuff done, which is fine (there’s nothing else to do in that situation), but the parts with Robocop all of a sudden an upgraded superhero, doing things impossible to do with a man in a tin can suit? It’s where Robocop breaks. It’s where you can’t suspend disbelief long enough to hear Peter Weller’s voice saying the lines.

Williamson is still earnest with Robocop, but he’s not restrained enough. Not having a “budget” hurts it.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

C.O.W.L. 8 (January 2015)

C.O.W.L. #8

There are some definite issues with Reis’s art here. The people don’t look right; he’s maybe trying a new style and it doesn’t take. Or maybe there are just too many people to draw. The issue is a lot of talking heads scenes, no real action besides the introduction of staged supervillains.

Higgins and Siegel spend a little time with every character, which leaves C.O.W.L. feeling like it’s in need of a protagonist, or at least someone to follow through all these scenes. Instead, it’s a lot of different people and the writers handle those scenes pretty well, but it feels like a collection of subplot scenes thrown into one issue.

Not even the cliffhanger, with the supervillains attacking, has much weight. It’s kind of a treading water issue, kind of not. The writers are good with their characters and Reis’s art is mostly strong. The issue just feels slight.

CREDITS

The Greater Good, Chapter Two: Doppler Shift; writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; publisher, Image Comics.

Hawkeye 21 (April 2015)

Hawkeye #21

What’s confusing about this very late issue of Hawkeye is how little anyone is invested in it; Fraction has the most fun when doing a one page scene between Clint and Jessica Drew and Aja manages to do some great design, but not turn it into great art. So what does Fraction do? He goes for a gut shot at the end, just to make Hawkeye feel like it matters.

Only, it’s been so long since Fraction’s done anything interesting with Clint, he’s got way too big a hill to climb.

Strangest is how they handle the “meat” of the issue. The regular tenants of the building fighting the Eastern European mobsters Home Alone-style, as one character puts it. It seems like a very small fight with only a handful of participants. The coordination, both in writing and art, isn’t there.

Maybe Fraction should’ve let someone else finish it.

CREDITS

Rio Bravo; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Judge Dredd 32 (June 1986)

Judge Dredd #32

Dredd has his showdown with the surviving Angel brothers. It’s an oddly incomplete story just because Walter has a silent but important role and Wagner and Grant never get around to resolving it. At least not in this collection of progs; maybe in the actual 2000 A.D. they got to it in a good amount of time.

There’s some more silly stuff–the rat going to get Dredd at the Hall of Justice–but the showdown is good. Wagner and Grant pace it out well and Ezqerra’s energy is good. The final resolution for the Judge Child is fine; pointless, but fine.

Unfortunately, the second story–with nice, if too comedic, art by Jose Casanovas Jr.–is idiotic. Wagner and Grant try too much for social commentary. And they don’t even have anything to say, they’re often clearly padding out the exposition.

But they do reference the Apocalypse War well.

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artists, Carlos Ezquerra and Jose Casanovas Jr.; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Judge Dredd 31 (May 1986)

Judge Dredd #31

Besides having some very odd angles from Ezqerra, this issue does pretty well. Even if Wagner and Grant have a really, really silly setup.

The Judge Child, across the galaxy, is able to control minds back on Earth. And I think read minds too. He wrecks havoc as he plots against Dredd. Part of that plot is releasing Fink Angel, the creepiest of them–the one with the pet rat who wears a hat–and that part of the issue works out well.

Unfortunately, then the Judge Child raises Mean Machine from the dead. So he can control minds across the galaxy and resurrect people. It’s silly.

Dredd has a good encounter with Fink; what Ezqerra doesn’t do in detail, he at least breaks out well into panels.

Besides the goofy elements and some wonky art, it’s a rather good issue. Wagner and Grant keep the storytelling precise and brisk.

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Bitch Planet 2 (January 2015)

Bitch Planet #2

This issue of Bitch Planet, as far as DeConnick’s technical writing goes, is amazing. It’s the best plotted, best constructed comic I’ve read in a long time. The balance of talking heads to action sequences, how DeConnick and De Landro work those action sequences out, it’s phenomenal.

But I still don’t care.

DeConnick reveals the future is a little bit Hunger Games, little bit Rollerball, little bit Running Man, all mixed in with a seventies exploitation film. The characters are amusing–oh, wait, the bad guy is even a Mr. Big-type villain–but the cast in the prison is amusing.

The best thing Bitch Planet has going for it is DeConnick’s script, which makes wonderful connections and is very gradual, very careful with how it leads the reader through the narrative. The rest of the comic is the MacGuffin. Would it be nice if it all connected?

Eh.

Maybe?

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Valentine De Landro; colorist, Cris Peters; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Image Comics.

The Dying and the Dead 1 (January 2015)

The Dying and the Dead #1

The Dying and the Dead sure seems like it’s got some good old fashioned zeitgeist elements to it, like the ancient protagonist who’s still an action movie badass. What would aging Hollywood actors do without mainstream “indie” comic book writers coming up with new projects for them to turn down?

Writer Jonathan Hickman does change some stuff. He’s got a Bond villain organization but they’re secretly immortal and clones and the only person who can stop them is this old guy who has a dying wife and nothing to lose. Except the dying wife, presumably. Guess they didn’t have kids.

Ryan Bodeheim’s art is really detailed and occasionally interesting to read–and the comic does go on forever (it’s a double-sized issue) so it feels very full. It’s just nothing original and nothing special. It’s decently executed, just empty.

And that title’s not going to get Liam Neeson’s attention.

CREDITS

Writer, Jonathan Hickman; artist, Ryan Bodeheim; colorist, Michael Garland; letterer, Rus Wooton; publisher, Image Comics.

Big Trouble in Little China 8 (January 2015)

Big Trouble in Little China #8

Well, Big Trouble in Little China is definitely going places. This issue, which is mostly (amusing) exposition and (great) banter–with a lot big action set piece thrown in–moves the series to an unexpected cliffhanger. Powell is getting closer and closer to needing to establish a point for the series past the gimmick of its very existence. He seems to be almost there.

The only problem with the issue is Churilla’s art. He’s hurried in places, not putting a lot of thought or time into his compositions. There’s the action set piece and it does work out, but it’s a small part of the issue. The build-up to that sequence has some wonky, disjointed moments.

Powell’s script has a good amount of surprises alongside the humor. The conclusion’s unpredictable (unless I missed something in the previous issues); it probably shouldn’t be. Powell artfully uses the laughs for misdirection.

CREDITS

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

Princess Ugg 7 (January 2015)

Princess Ugg #7

Naifeh seems like he’s forecasting quite a bit of what’s to come in Princess Ugg, which is fine. The comic has seemed somewhat listless and wandering, but this issue has Naifeh not just giving readers an idea of the situation beyond Ülga’s school, he also gives her a real supporting cast.

Her fellow princesses finally stick up for Ülga against the evil princess, who’s revealed not just to be an evil in a Mean Girls way, but actually evil. Naifeh gets in all the information he hasn’t been giving the previous issues in a few sentences here. Combined with a transcendent surprise sequence, it’s probably the best issue of the comic, if not the most entertaining.

The characters are getting far more complex, with Naifeh still able to fit in crowd-pleasing moments. Ugg has had its bumps, but Naifeh’s more successful turns more than make up for rough patches.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Ted Naifeh; colorists, Warren Wucinich and Naifeh; letterer, Wucinich; editors, Robin Herrera and Jill Beaton; publisher, Oni Press.

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