C.O.W.L. 9 (March 2015)

C.O.W.L. #9

This issue of C.O.W.L. is an excellent bit of work from creators Higgins, Siegel and Reis. First off, Reis’s art really makes the issue. He gets to do talking heads and action, but he has a bunch of variety when it comes to the talking heads. The style fits the conversation and the players beautifully.

Since there’s so much talking heads, it’s important the conversations work and they do. Higgins and Siegel reveal quite a few things–like the murdered guy having a wise to the corruption wife; C.O.W.L. is nine issues in and the writers are still able to expand it naturally.

The sixties Chicago setting–whether in the politics or just the visuals–gets utilized quite well this issue too. It’s beginning to feel like natural. The comic has found a reliable groove.

I just realized–the lack of a frame really helps C.O.W.L.; it’s historical superhero fiction.


The Greater Good, Chapter Three: The High Ground; writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; publisher, Image Comics.

The Order of the Forge 1 (April 2015)

The Order of the Forge #1

There’s really no other way to say it.

Dude, The Order of the Forge is some kind of Star Wars hero’s quest–updated with more modern vernacular and R-rated interests for everyone–starring George Washington, Paul Revere and Ben Franklin.

And, dude, it’s awesome.

Writer Victor Gischler seems to know exactly what he’s got and exactly what he’s doing–historically accurate, full of supernatural mumbo jumbo, father-son issues, friendship issues, Ben Franklin being too busy whoring to discovery electricity–it’s simultaneously reverent to historical figures and full of piss and vinegar.

Piss figuring into the story as well.

And Tazio Bettin’s art is perfect. He handles the proper stuff just fine and he handles the action really well. The historical setting is nice looking when it needs to be and ominous when it needs to be.

It’s awesome. Gischler knows what he’s doing and is enthusiastic about it.


Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Ian Tucker and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Big Trouble in Little China 10 (April 2015)

Big Trouble in Little China #10

This issue of Big Trouble is unrepentant in its awesomeness. It’s Jack Burton versus the probably dimwitted demons of Hell as he tries to plan his escape. Powell goes for humor the entire issue–so much so, when Jack gets into a fight at the end, it’s hard to see there being any danger.

And that cartoon aspect of the comic has become one of its pluses. Big Trouble isn’t straight-faced at all, but it often deals with “serious” issues (well, mostly just its cast being in danger); the silliness (and Powell’s attention to character detail) puts it past being a successful licensed comic and into its own territory.

In many ways–though it’s impossible see imagine this comic coming out in the eighties–it feels more like the movie is an adaptation of this comic than the other way around.

There’s some lovely, fun Churilla Hell art too.


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

Ei8ht 2 (March 2015)

Ei8ht #2

Not really enough story for this issue of Ei8ht. There are quite a few scenes and a bit of information–without being exposition–but there’s not a lot of story. In fact, as far as story goes, there’s only like five pages. The protagonist gets up and walks around and hears about the Meld.

The rest of the comic, with the female soldier arguing for the protagonist visitor guy’s survival (instead of being given to the bad guy) and a bunch of stuff with an exploration vessel from Earth, isn’t exactly story or subplot. It should be, but something about the way Johnson writes it, it’s not.

The opening of the comic is confusing as all heck, just because–at issue two–Johnson hasn’t done enough to establish these characters. And even though Albuquerque’s art’s magnificent, his people aren’t exactly distinguished. They’re all human, all fit.

It’s okay enough stuff.


Writers, Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson; artist, Albuquerque; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Spencer Cushing and Sierra Hahn; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Satellite Sam 13 (April 2015)

Satellite Sam #13

It’s an action-packed issue of Satellite Sam. At least it’s action-packed for Satellite Sam. And not even the kinky sex, which Chaykin must’ve loved getting a crack at. No, Fraction is moving Michael’s murder investigation to what seems to be its third act (and the third act for the series, based on some developments for supporting cast), and there’s action.

There’s revenge and action.

And kinky sex.

The only thing Satellite Sam doesn’t have this issue is television. The television plots don’t come in at all, with the exception of a sort of Godfather homage and TV isn’t the point of that scene. It’s Fraction and Chaykin being a little funny and showy, which they can afford to be; Satellite Sam is good stuff.

Fraction’s character work this issue is exceptional, maybe the best in the series so far. And it’s with practically melodramatic sequences where he excels.


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

Frankenstein Underground 2 (April 2015)

Frankenstein Underground #2

Besides the art–I mean, who doesn’t want to see Frankenstein’s monster fight a dinosaur–there’s not much going for this issue of Frankenstein Underground.

The villains do villainous things for a page, but not too villainous. Just plotting villainous and kind of evil. Then they’re gone and the story jumps to the monster going into an inner Earth, full of dinosaurs and cavemen.

And giant squids. Because it’s not just Edgar Rice Burroughs, it’s got some Jules Verne going for it too.

It’s kind of okay, Stenbeck’s art makes it work out. Like I said, the Frankenstein Monster versus monsters. I think that idea was even a Toho movie. And Stenbeck’s art is classy.

Notice how much I repeating myself? It’s because Mignola didn’t write enough story for a fourth of a comic book, forget about a full length one.

This issue is a pretty waste of one’s time.


Writer, Mike Mignola; artist, Ben Stenbeck; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Scott Allie; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Fade Out 5 (April 2015)

The Fade Out #5

It’s a sort of gentle issue of The Fade Out, with Brubaker and Phillips heading to the country. The movie production is doing location shooting–albeit on sets, but they’re away from the studio and things are developing. Charlie the protagonist continues his flirtation with the replacement girl while his flashbacks reveal his relationship with the original. Blacklist Gil goes and gets drunk and finds himself in a pickle.

Plus there’s Hollywood stuff. There’s the tawdry stuff out of James Ellroy, but Brubaker’s got a lot about how the characters react to being away from the studio. While in Hollywood, The Fade Out just seemed like a noir set during the making of a film noir, but on location? Brubaker’s showing his research through Charlie’s narration. The setting feels fresh, real.

And Brubaker doesn’t go for a cliffhanger. He brings up some things, he stirs a pot, then it ends.


The Broken Ones; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

Batgirl 40 (May 2015)

Batgirl #40

This issue of Batgirl is a little weird. Stewart and Fletcher sort of do an adaptation of… Captain America 2. Satellite going to shoot people from space because they’re bad or might someday be bad. Big plot point in that movie. In the previews, I believe. Just a few years ago.

Yet, here it is in Batgirl. Not the most original suspense plot.

The rest of the comic–except the way Stewart and Fletcher refer back to Killing Joke–is pretty good. Stewart and Tarr’s art has a lot of energy, with Tarr’s details giving the comic a distinct style of its own, not quite Stewart, not quite not.

The epilogue sort of reestablishes Batgirl again, which is way too many times, but it’s a reasonable setup for whatever comes next. Barbara’s still not a character, Dinah’s still not a character, but the writers are getting there. Just too gradually.


Ghost in the Cowl; 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.

Curb Stomp 3 (April 2015)

Curb Stomp #3

The first issue of Curb Stomp had a lot of promise, the second issue implied maybe it didn’t… the third shows Ferrier and Neogi are going to do even better than that initial promise. It’s an outstanding comic book with a masterful control of the plotting. And some of Neogi’s best art–there are a lot of rituals in this issue (as the gangs negotiate) and Neogi has a visual theme for each different kind of ritual. It’s awesome.

Ferrier’s script is almost in real time but lots of things happen. It’s not a talking heads comic, it’s an action comic, just one with occasional talking. Each conversation is a confrontation, which works entirely differently. It’s not about exposition or explanation, it’s about action.

Not to say there isn’t general action–whether it’s suspense or just all out fight scenes–but Ferrier and Neogi do a great job maintaining tone.


Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Devaki Neogi; colorist, Jeremy Lawson; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Chrononauts 1 (March 2015)

Chrononauts #1

I like how Mark Millar has gotten to the point I don’t even bother forming an opinion on his first issue. Take Chrononauts. Good–but surprisingly not great–art from Sean Murphy. Of course, Millar often works with good artists.

The story? Time travel in the near future. Millar comes up with something rather interesting, the idea of a time traveling satellite going back in time, transmitting video of an event, crashing down in a different time period. It’s cool. Then he gets to the guys who are going to go back in time. Both are rock star scientists–because Millar has to write rock star something or others–one has an ex-wife, one is a lothario. Millar’s not stretching here. He’s got his characters, he recycles them.

But the time travel stuff with the guys? Boring. Feels like a Stargate comic.

But, it’s Millar; I’ll delay critical thinking.


Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Ghosted 19 (April 2015)

Ghosted #19

Okay, Laci’s art isn’t working out for Ghosted, especially not this issue. It’s talking heads–with one important bit of unexpected actions and one hinted one; so it’s mostly talking. And Laci can’t do it. His art works on a macro creepy level, but he doesn’t get into expressions enough for the characters to “perform” their fear and discomfort.

Williamson has quite a bit of fun with the script. He starts off with something entirely unexpected, then sort of avoids it. The issue takes place over twenty minutes at the most, following two and then three sets of characters. If the issue didn’t have such a surprising (though maybe it shouldn’t have been) development, it would have been fine with five or six pages.

And being able to make something a big deal is one of Williamson’s strengths. He does the character work to make his big plot developments succeed.


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

Big Man Plans 1 (March 2015)

Big Man Plans #1

The cynic in me hopes they do the Big Man Plans TV show well. I’m also hopeful for it, because if it gets a TV show, it’ll probably get another series. This series is only four issues and I can already tell I’m going to want more.

Big Man Plans is about an unnamed Vietnam vet in the late seventies and his experiences going back to his hometown. Of course, he’s an expertly trained killer little person; bullied and ostracized in the States, he excelled as a tunnel “cleaner” in Vietnam. It’s the standard tough guy comes home to clean house but it’s with a little person.

Eric Powell’s art is great–he heavily details people, lightly details scenery but just enough to make it feel seventies–and he and Tim Wiesch’s writing is pretty darn good too. There’s a humanity to the pulpy narration.

And it’s really, really funny.


Writers, Eric Powell and Tim Wiesch; artist and letterer, Powell; publisher, Image Comics.

Suiciders 1 (April 2015)

Suiciders #1

Because no one remembers Escape From L.A., it’s time for Suiciders. But people do remember Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome–or at least the Thunderdome. Writer and artist Lee Bermejo rips off one of those movies, or just any other movie where post-apocalyptic guys fight in an arena to do the death for the enjoyment of the masses. Wasn’t it in a Zorro too?

There’s nothing original about Suiciders, except maybe bringing illegal immigration into it except it’s probably something Judge Dredd did thirty years ago.

But the comic’s extremely readable. Bermejo’s not a good writer, but his dialogue’s passable (maybe editorial actually did some work on the comic) and it’s a gorgeous looking comic book. Suiciders gets away with everything because it looks gorgeous.

When will the stupidity outweigh the gorgeous art? Depends on how much cool stuff Bermejo gets to draw.

It’s a desperate attempt from Vertigo though.


The Brutality Malady; writer and artist, Lee Bermejo; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Gregory Lockard and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

D4VE 1 (February 2015)

D4VE #1

D4VE is the traditional American story of the disaffected middle aged office worker, the one whose wife doesn’t find him attractive anymore, the one who has a terrible relationship with his kid.

Only D4VE is a robot. Man made robot, robot killed man, robots inherit the Earth. Only Ferrier takes it to the nth degree and the robots actually went out and killed every living thing they could find. Actually, it’s kind of like the Borg. Only Valentin Ramon doesn’t draw D4VE and the other robots grody. They’re really slick futuristic robots, like Boris Vallejo robots.

Does D4VE work out in the end? Pretty much. Nothing happens (except aliens invading, possibly giving former war-bot D4VE a chance to shine again). D4VE fights with his wife, his boss, goes to a strip club. Ferrier isn’t doing anything new, he’s just found a new way of doing it.

And it works.


Writer and letterer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Valentin Ramon; editor, David Hedgecock; publisher, IDW Comics.

Descender 2 (April 2015)

Descender #2

Lemire sure does know his sci-fi–this issue of Descender continues the A.I. vibe while throwing in some Outland. He also knows how to go straight for the heartstrings, which he does with a bunch of flashbacks to Tim–21 (he’s the android protagonist) in happier days.

And Lemire does a good job with it. He can get away with almost anything with Nguyen’s art. Descender will always be worth looking at. Nguyen’s color washes give each page a distinct separate feel, even when the action continues between them. It’s a lovely comic.

This issue doesn’t do much to develop the world of the comic, just Tim–21. Lemire’s careful not to give the robot too many emotional observations (again, A.I.) and it’s unclear if he can get legs out of story with a purely sympathetic lead character.

But he’s off to an okay start. It’s gloriously manipulative stuff.


Tin Stars, Part Two; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dustin Nguyen; letterer, Steve Wands; publisher, Image Comics.

Criminal: The Special Edition (February 2015)

Criminal: The Special Edition (One Shot)

Criminal’s back for a one-shot and, wow, it certainly does do a good job reminding of when Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are hitting the high notes on the comic.

The special brings back a character, but Brubaker spends more time establishing this Conan knockoff than anything he does with the issue’s protagonist. Having black and white interludes to the Conan knockoff’s magazine (it takes place in the seventies) wouldn’t work without Phillips’s art. He has this beautiful way of being detailed but not too detailed. You can buy the interludes as hurried late seventies fantasy comic art, but there’s still the Phillips quality to it.

The individual scenes in the comic–whether it’s the protagonist in a jailhouse fight or yelling at his son at one point–work better than the whole. Brubaker doesn’t have time for a big twist. He’s got time for scenic awesomeness though.


By This Sword I Live!; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

Ei8ht 1 (February 2015)

Ei8ht #1

What is Ei8ht?

Well, first off, it’s gorgeous. Rafael Albuquerque does a great job. Nothing’s exactly original–Planet of the Apes meets Twelve Monkeys meets Waterworld meets The Road Warrior–but it all looks really good. Albuquerque immediately brings personality to the characters. He and co-writer Mike Johnson even choose just the right names for certain connotations.

Wait, wait, wait. Albuquerque’s great except the last page. I need to bring it up for a second. It’s the “money shot” of the issue, it’s what sets it the last page being some kind of cliffhanger, and Albuquerque fumbles. He’s not thoughtful about the illustration and it shows. Maybe he’s busy, but maybe the editors need to do more.

There’s a lot of time travel and so on in Ei8ht. Space travel, time travel. Albuquerque and Johnson do it well. Not original, but thoughtfully constructed from other elements.

It’s definitely okay.


Writers, Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson; artist, Albuquerque; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Spencer Cushing and Sierra Hahn; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Rebels 1 (April 2015)

Rebels #1

I’m not sure a Revolutionary War epic is a thing. Not anymore, anyway. Certainly not in comics. But no one told Brian Wood because he’s trying to make a Revolutionary War epic with Rebels.

And there’s only one odd “tea party” reference. Otherwise, there’s nary a wink to be found in the comic. Given artist Andrea Mutti’s occasionally static figures, Rebels almost feels like one has found him or herself back in a Classics Illustrated.

As for the story, it’s okay. Wood labels the time transitions but doesn’t really make them matter to the reader until it’s too late. He’s in good company (“Downton Abbey” did the same thing). There are some father-son issues, some really strange future tense narration (Wood’s giving historical fiction texture but he’s also making his narrator weepy without context).

The comic goes out too tepidly. But it’s still successful. For a Revolutionary War epic.


A Well-Regulated Militia, Part One; writer, Brian Wood; artist, Andrea Mutti; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Spencer Cushing and Sierra Hahn; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 5 (February 2015)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #5

Connor Willumsen contributes maybe four pages to this issue of Captain Victory and, wow, it really doesn’t help the comic. The comic’s all right–it starts sci-fi heavy (something about Fox’s art doesn’t match the Kirby designs in the denser areas)–and the main action in New York City is great. Except when it’s Willumsen’s pages. He draws cute.

The issue has the young Victory clone and his vigilante mentor fighting an evil pig monster. Willumsen draws the pig monster cute. He also draws young Captain Victory cute. Well, more than cute. Pretty. Willumsen draws Victory as a pretty teenage girl with a short hair cut. It’s really, really weird.

But Fox is back soon enough and he and Casey do all right. The issue ends with a lot of alien tech art and not a lot of story. It’s not a good cliffhanger. But the rest works out.


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

Satellite Sam 12 (March 2015)

Satellite Sam #12

It’s a good issue of Satellite Sam. Chaykin’s art is definitely stronger this time around. And the issue’s packed once again.

Fraction checks in on various characters and their still active subplots–some are small (like the guy with the Italian wife for a beard), some are much bigger (the black guy passing on TV now getting death threats). But the main plot for the issue deals with the overall story and Mike’s investigation.

In some ways, Fraction’s just cooking Sam. He’s got six burners on the stove and he’s tending all of the pots, but only really concentrating one one. And it’s an accompaniment subplot concerning Mike’s love life.

The conclusion of the issue gets back to some of the toughness the series imparted way back at the beginning, when the shock value was still part of the comic. Fraction and Chaykin do tough well. Even with Chaykin’s supermen.


Four Keys, Two Reels; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Frankenstein Underground 1 (March 2015)

Frankenstein Underground #1

With the first issue of Frankenstein Underground, writer Mike Mignola signals something special about the comic. He gets how to write the Creature. He understands how he needs the Creature to function in the story. For comics, it might not be a huge development, but for the Frankenstein Monster as a iconic figure? Well, his icon’s always getting tarnished.

The art, from Ben Stenbeck, helps a lot. There’s an enthusiasm in the quirks of Mignola’s script–whether the flashbacks or the setting–and it comes across to the reader. Underground feels special, even in the scenes with the plotting villain, just because he’s plotting against the Creature.

There are occasional–subtle–nods to other Frankenstein adaptations, but Mignola’s setup for his Creature’s story is an excellent one. The issue ends on an “end of act one” cliffhanger so what he and Stenbeck come up with next remains to be seen.


Writer, Mike Mignola; artist, Ben Stenbeck; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Scott Allie; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 23

It’s the Comics Fondle Podcast Episode #23 for 4 April 2015.

Abigail and the Snowman, Chrononauts, Curb Stomp, Dave, Eight, Fly, Frankenstein, Princess Ugg, Sons of Anarchy, Surface, War Stories, We Can Never Go Home.

Other stuff:
Star Wars
Multiversity: Ultra Comics

you can also subscribe on iTunes…

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: