The Order of the Forge 2 (May 2015)

The Order of the Forge #2

The Order of the Forge continues to be an unabashedly awesome comic book. Gischler manages to be remarkably restrained–even as he tells the story of George Washington, Paul Revere and Benjamin Franklin like it’s The Avengers or Harry Potter, he manages to be aware of the line between awesome and too much. It’s not a deep comic at all, it’s just an expertly done shallow one.

This issue has the three getting superpowers–Forge is way too amusing and way too great a concept for there to be no movie option hopes, but–once again–Gischler errors on the side of caution. It’s a comic book first, with Bettin’s art very aware of the medium.

And the story’s just good. There are nice complications for all the characters, there’s a good female protagonist and even the biggest Washington fan would never believe he as cool as Gischler writes him.


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

C.O.W.L. 10 (May 2015)

C.O.W.L. #10

It’s an okay issue of C.O.W.L.. Higgins and Siegel are doing a bridging issue. Most of the issue is either one person being threatened or another person threatening and so on. There’s some nice art from Reis on it, but it all feels very by the numbers.

The coolest thing has to be the supervillain who looks like Nosferatu and has minions. C.O.W.L. tends not to have particularly good villains (or heroes) when it comes to concepts; Reis rarely gets to do anything exciting. Nosferatu and company, though only in the comic for a couple pages, are pretty exciting.

As for the rest of the comic–with the picket line breaking superhero in the hospital and the police detective out for the truth–doesn’t really connect. Higgins and Siegel don’t have enough material; they present it well enough, however. C.O.W.L. is getting to be sturdy, even when it isn’t compelling.


The Greater Good, Chapter Four: Full Disclosure; writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; publisher, Image Comics.

Curb Stomp 4 (May 2015)

Curb Stomp #4

It’s an okay finish for Curb Stomp, nothing more. It’s like Ferrier decided the story had gotten too big so he brings it all down to a more personal story for the final… but then he realized he’d made it too small so he put in a lot more big action. And poor Neogi is left to sort it out. Large action happens in very small panels this issue.

The finale’s strangely reductive for the comic too. All the world building Ferrier did at the start–and even maintained to some point–is over now. It’s the finish, no time for new things. Lukcily Neogi’s art never lets it feel rushed; even if it feels constrained, Neogi’s composition of each panel is strong.

Ferrier probably needed another issue to make it work better. Who knows if the somewhat off narration would play out with enough space. Probably. Still, worthwhile comic.


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

Ghosted 20 (May 2015)

Ghosted #20

Ghosted ends. Rather abruptly. While Williamson does discuss ending the series in the back matter–and he pretty much brings back every slightly sympathetic character for a farewell of sorts–the pacing doesn’t feel right. Even if he meant to work towards a reveal and then go another route… it’s not a successful destination.

Some of the problem is Goran Sudzuka trying a different style for his brief return to the comic. And then Laci and Williamson pretending they’re doing a desperately romantic Vertigo comic from the nineties. The tone is just off.

Still, even if it’s not a compelling read, the final issue of Ghosted is a pleasing one. Williamson doesn’t take enough time with the characters but he gives them all fine farewells. The ties back to the series’s first arc just show how constrained Williamson envisioned the comic, which is too bad.

Ghosted finishes acceptably, nothing more.


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

The Fade Out 6 (May 2015)

The Fade Out #6

It’s a good issue of Fade Out but something feels off. Like Brubaker is backing off a bit in the narration–he’s set up the story, he’s telling the reader a whole lot about Gil and Charlie and how they feel and so on. There’s still a great story for Charlie and Maya.

It’s also where Brubaker embraces the regular reader. The previous issue had some big events and he doesn’t recap them here. If you aren’t on board with the series, you don’t get any more help.

Brubaker moves things along in a big way with Gil’s storyline getting clearer–Charlie’s is still a muddle, the noir screenwriter fumbling his way through a noir while Gil’s being the actual hero. Brubaker introduces a Little Rascals stand-in troupe for some plot fodder; it’s what feels off. It’s too much of an Ellroy homage.

Nice art from Philips as always.


To Set the World on Fire; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

Satellite Sam 14 (May 2015)

Satellite Sam #14

And this issue is a perfect example of how you do a comic book. One thing Chaykin brings to Satellite Sam–even when he’s having an off issue, which he isn’t this issue–is a real understanding of how to make a comic book a comic book. You never read Sam and feel like Fraction’s itching for a movie option or whatnot. The way the story beats work, they only work in a comic.

And there are a lot of big story beats this issue. Fraction deals with all of the major plot lines, along with a couple nods–sometimes with just those Italian language word balloons–to major subplots. These plot lines aren’t resolved (well, probably one of them), but they’re getting close. Fraction and Chaykin pack a lot into the issue and its story threads.

Sam is going out on a rather high note, which is only appropriate.


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

We Can Never Go Home 1 (February 2015)

We Can Never Go Home #1

We Can Never Go Home Again is strange. Not so much in its content–small town teenage mutant girl hides her mutant powers, falls in with a boy with a secret (it’s a mix of countless young adult novels and the first X-Men movie)–but in how writers Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon pace out the issue. They open with the boy with the secret, then switch focus between him and the girl, only neither one’s really the protagonist. Each seems to have some kind of secret the writers are keeping from the reader.

It feels manufactured, but the dialogue–most of the issue is dialogue–is so strong, it doesn’t matter. It’s a fun read, with “so close to prime time it’s a shock when it isn’t” art from Josh Hood, even if it’s too fast.

Hopefully it’ll go someplace more interesting than where it’s starting out from.


What We Do Is Secret; writers, Patrick Kindlon and Matthew Rosenberg; artist, Josh Hood; letterer, Jim Campbell; publisher, Black Mask Studios.

Mayday 1 (April 2015)

Mayday #1

Mayday tells the story of a coked out Hollywood director who stumbles across a couple of bad Tarantino knock-off hit men and starts an adventure.

There’s also a Benicio Del Toro (called Benicio Del Cocaine) character who’s given up Hollywood to start a cult and kill people. It’s not clear how it’s all connected, but it’s undoubtedly connected.

I suppose Mayday writer Curt Pires gets some credit for doing a comic with absolutely no chance of getting optioned by Hollywood (one hopes Lindsay Lohan or Del Toro sues him for defamation of character) but there’s nothing to the story. The protagonist is obnoxious, the supporting cast is obnoxious. Towards the end of the issue, Pires cheaply inserts a second lead. She doesn’t have enough presence to be obnoxious.

Chris Peterson’s art is okay enough, but he doesn’t do anything special. Mayday is a whole bag of not special actually.


Degradation Nation; writer, Curt Pires; artist, Chris Peterson; colorist, Pete Toms; letterer, Colin Bell; publisher, Black Mask Studios.

Rebels 2 (May 2015)

Rebels #2

Do you know why superheroes wear flashy outfits? So you can tell them apart in otherwise confusing action sequences. Rebels has no superheroes, just the heroic men of the pre-Revolutionary War militias fighting against the British. Wood picks an interesting topic–much like WWII, it’d be hard to find an anti-Revolutionary War sentiment in readers.

But Wood doesn’t have any of the minutiae down. I’m not getting a history lesson with each issue, I’m getting a soap opera. It’s not even an interesting soap opera. Guy is determined and dense and disregards his wife’s feelings.

And Wood’s lack of thoughtfulness–the wife asking what time it is when they don’t have a clock–is kind of the problem with the whole thing. To mix film metaphor, it’s The Patriot, but pretending to be Dances With Wolves.

But, if it weren’t for the weak ending, it’d be fine enough.


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

Sons of Anarchy 21 (May 2015)

Sons of Anarchy #21

It’s a better issue but still not a distinguished one. Ferrier treats the characters a little like cattle. He has them stand around, he has them go crazy, but he never gives the impression they’re anything but what he needs them to be for the story.

The issue ends in about the same place as it begins, which is odd. Even though there are exciting moments throughout the issue, by looping around, Ferrier just makes the reader wonder why the issue was necessary. And the reader should never be left wondering why something is necessary.

Bergara’s art is improving. It’s still too exaggerated and cartoony at times, but it’s definitely improving. In many ways, especially with the flat ending, it’s more successful this time out than the writing.

Sons is better this issue than last, but the series is still in trouble. Ferrier just doesn’t have a feel for it.


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

Rocket Girl 6 (May 2015)

Rocket Girl #6

Something’s not quite right about Rocket Girl this issue and it took me a while to figure it out. Montclare’s starting a new arc, but he hasn’t given Dayoung anything to do as Rocket Girl. She’s got flashbacks to adventure, but in the present, the problem is that she’s not the teenager her new caretakers are expecting.

Big surprise. She’s from the future. And after opening the issue with Dayoung extremely focused and strong, Montcare ends it treating her like a child. It raises a question about the series and how it will go on–is the reader supposed to spend time wondering about whether or not Dayoung’s capable of non-teenager thinking.

Because, if so, the comic doesn’t read as well. It reads as trite YA stuff, not rollocking, witty adventure.

Also odd? Reeder doesn’t get anything interesting to draw. Maybe some of the future stuff. But not much.


Split Second; writer, Brandon Montclare; artist, colorist and letterer, Amy Reeder; publisher, Image Comics.

Descender 3 (May 2015)

Descender #3

I want to be able to keep reading Descender, but I’m getting close to my limit. It’s just A.I. with some flourishes on it. It’s like someone tried to make a comic book sequel to A.I., only instead of taking its visual template, Nguyen is grabbing from Alien and Outland and other seventies to early eighties sci-fi.

This issue has robot Tim dying and going to robot purgatory, where all the souls of the robots from the alien invasion are living. Okay, maybe more A.I. mixed with one of the Ender’s Game sequels, suffice to say, Lemire doesn’t have anything original in this series. And maybe he’s not supposed to, maybe he’s just supposed to sell the option to Hollywood and the comic’s going to sell on Nguyen’s art.

After all, Lemire’s just unoriginal, it’s not bad.

But I don’t know if Nyugen’s art alone is worth the time.


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

Rat God 3 (April 2015)

Rat God #3

Everything changes in this issue of Rat God. And not just because the coloring looks more traditionally Corben. It changes because Corben makes his rube of a lead, Elwood Clark, the protagonist of the series. Only took three issues but it’s worth the wait.

At first glance, this issue–and its cult–seems familiar. Shades of Wicker Man, shades of the Cat People remake. But it’s Corben, so he’s running these more modern horror movies through a filter–it looks like a mix of Val Lewton and Will Eisner (the cultists’ robes are particular).

The series didn’t previously seem so cinematic–it was more a American Gothic Lovecraft thing. That element is still present, but with an actual protagonist the tone changes. Especially since Corben forces the reader to reexamine him.

As does the coloring style. It’s shaded lusciously alongside Corben’s already luscious lines. It’s maximal, not minimal. Fantastically so.


Writer and artist, Richard Corben; colorists, Corben and Beth Corben Reed; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Jemiah Jefferson, Shantel LaRoque and Scott Allie; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4 (June 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4

Writer North understands the lunacy of Squirrel Girl fighting Galactus but he’s also writing a comic called The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl so he’s got to come up with something good. And he does. He doesn’t take the comic too seriously, which helps because Squirrel Girl doesn’t need to be realistic, it needs to obey internal logic and amuse.

It does both.

North turns Galactus into a great banter partner for Squirrel Girl–and Tippy Toe–while keeping a decent amount of action in the comic. Henderson’s style doesn’t seem a fit for comic book space opera but she really gets it. The Galactus encounter on the moon is full of memorable shots and set pieces.

There’s even tension–which should be difficult since North has a bunch of framing devices but it all works out rather nicely. If Squirrel Girl can take on Galactus and win, it can do anything.


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

Rat God 2 (March 2015)

Rat God #2

It’s a weird issue of Rat God, which is also a lot of Corben’s point. He isn’t mixing genres, but he is throwing Lovecraft alongside some Native American folklore and just plain old wives tales. And who better to illustrate it than Corben himself.

The issue’s confusing–if the guy walking in the snow is the series’s frame, it didn’t make enough of an impact last issue (so much so going through a couple times, there’s always a disconnect between a couple scenes)–but it’s also got really good scenes. Corben’s dialogue contributes to the setting. As “British” as it might feel, it also feels undeniably American.

And not just because of the town full of rat people, something Corben doesn’t even hint at resolving yet. By the end of the second issue, he still hasn’t revealed why the series is called Rat God.

He’s doing some great work here.


Writer and artist, Richard Corben; colorists, Corben and Beth Corben Reed; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Jemiah Jefferson, Shantel LaRoque and Scott Allie; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Crossed + One Hundred 4 (March 2015)

Crossed +100 #4

In this issue, Moore drops Future and company in a Muslim settlement (the only religious community in the world… AFAWK). Future’s got a thing going with the archivist there, giving Moore and Andrade a chance to mix talking head Crossed history in with a sex scene. There’s some stuff with the Crossed in the issue–the tape, finding out the Crossed can breed (for me anyway)–but it’s Future’s romantic interlude is the action standout.

And Moore ends on that same gentle note. Given Future’s narration of the comic is in her journal and Moore loves playing with how storytelling works, it’s unlikely the comic will ever end an issue on a different note. Or, if he does… well, it means the comic’s changed.

Of course, Moore’s not threatening Future either.

It’s a strange, thoughtful comic. This issue has lots of dialogue, but also lots of character moments.

Awesome again.


Writer, Alan Moore; artist, Gabriel Andrade; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Red One 2 (April 2015)

Red One #2

This issue of Red One is far superior to the first one, just because Dorison’s made most of his sexist jokes. This time he tries to go the other way and mock the fascist fundamentalist Christians out to attack gays and fails miserably. For what’s supposed to be a period piece–think Boogie Nights with less story–Dorison doesn’t get any details right.

At least the Dodsons are doing very seventies hair on the people. It’s almost like Dorison doesn’t know how to write the period and, instead of fixing the script, the art is just supposed to cover for it.

But Vera’s a strong character and the old man she takes care for is a strong character and it works out. None of the supporting cast Dorison implied would be important last issue have much to do here. Thank goodness.

The ending’s off, but it’s a nice trip there.


Welcome to America, Part Two; writer, Xavier Dorison; penciller and colorist, Terry Dodson; inker, Rachel Dodson; letterer, Clayton Cowles; publisher, Image Comics.

Big Man Plans 2 (April 2015)

Big Man Plans #2

The first half of the issue is a whole lot better than the second half. The second half has our hero–called Big Man in the letter pages–enduring a whole bunch of torture. Page after page of it. Powell goes from drawing five or six panels a page to three. He doesn’t do backgrounds. He’s going for emphasis.

Being tortured is bad. I’m not sure what other lesson the reader’s supposed to get from the second half of the issue. Except maybe to appreciate Big Man’s toughness–except the reader is rooting for him already, the reader isn’t happy about Powell and Wiesch’s script requiring Big Man to be really dumb.

It’s an okay issue. I want it to be better, because the series will probably go on just fine, it’s just not a good comic. It’s an okay comic–wasted pages in an otherwise good limited series. Hopefully


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

The Surface 1 (March 2015)

The Surface #1

I’m really hoping the monkey isn’t just a tease in The Surface. It seems like it’s not going to be a tease. The comic really needs a smart monkey.

Actually, a smart monkey is about the only thing the comic doesn’t have. Not really, but sort of. The Surface is set in the near-ish future; Earth has gone to pot, the United States has broken down, everybody is plugged into the Internet (or whatever it’s called), there are Starbucks everywhere and the coffee’s even sweeter.

(Okay, the Starbucks are called Starnuts, complete with a squirrel mascot).

Writer Ales Kot gets through a lot of political stuff, a lot of social stuff, before he gets to the actual story. These three listless young adults–figure early twenties–are searching for the meaning of the universe.

Nice art from Langdon Foss; stylized but deliberate and thoroughly executed.

It’s pretentious but competent.


In a Beautiful Place out of Country; writer, Ales Kot; artist, Langdon Foss; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; publisher, Image Comics.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 6 (March 2015)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #6

I wish Joe Casey loved Jack Kirby a little less. Captain Victory ends with the origin of Captain Victory (as the young version sees it unfold). What’s it like? Well, there are nods to Darkseid, the New Gods, probably something from Marvel, whatever. It’s a bunch of Kirby homage and it’s all in summary and none of it’s in scene.

There are eight guest artists doing this history section and it’s disconcerting. It never lets the issue find of good visual vibe because Fox is back on the space ship and not doing much in the series’s actual settings. Well, there’s one great shot of the World Trade Center.

Is it a good finish to the series?

Not at all. Everything goes toward the homage aspect. Casey doesn’t care about any of his characters.

Is it a good Kirby homage?

Doubt it; he’d probably prefer people get a good read.


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

Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde 3 (November 2013)

Resident Alien: Suicide Blonde #3

Hogan manages to find a sensational but also completely not finish to Suicide Blonde. The resolution of the mystery is genial, even as the suspect recounts a somewhat salacious story. Harry’s just too good of a guy for it to be anything but genial.

Only then Hogan brings in the Men in Black and Harry’s a target again. Only he doesn’t know it. Hogan doesn’t even get around to dealing with Asta. He hints at that subplot but doesn’t spend any real time on it. The resolution to the mystery and Hogan’s sensitive handling of the suspect and Harry’s reaction to it, it’s where the energy goes.

Parkhouse’s art isn’t great. He gets bored with all the talking heads. There’s nothing for him to do–that somewhat salacious story is barely salacious and he and Hogan are actually rather respectful.

It’s a nice finish; Resident Alien is a unique book.


Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Everett Patterson and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Shaper 1 (March 2015)

Shaper #1

Eric Heisserer turns in a perfectly serviceable script for Shaper. Kid graduating high school (or the future, interplanetary equivalent) from a bad home, can’t get a prime gig, finds out he’s a magical war creature and that his favorite teacher’s been lying to him and she’s his mom.

At least I think he doesn’t know she’s his mom. I’m not sure. Heisserer has some clarity issues. But he’s also got Felipe Massafera’s strong sci-fi artwork, which forgives a lot of those clarity issues.

Shaper is derivative and disposable, but Heisserer’s script is competent enough a good artist can make it work. Massafera’s more than a good artist, he’s a good sci-fi artist; he knows the balance between space ships and future cities and aliens. He’s got a good action style and he’s perfectly decent with talking heads stuff (focusing on the sci-fi setting).

It’s perfectly serviceable stuff.


Writer, Eric Heisserer; artist, Felipe Massafera; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Michael Heisler; editors, Freddye Lins, Everett Patterson and Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Red One 1 (March 2015)

Red One #1

What’s Red One all about? Being sensational. It opens with a Christian fundamentalist psychopath killing a porn star–oh, Red One is set in the seventies so pornos are still being shown in the theater (in this case, a theater resembling the White House). Then the action jumps to the Soviet Union and the top Russian super-spy.

I think her name’s Vera. Her name is less important than her being a bustier version of Wonder Woman who’s also something of a nymphomaniac. The Soviets aren’t happy with the Christian fundamentalist serial killer–who is going after commies and gays too in the U.S. (not sure where Xavier Dorison came up with his Soviet history but he’s wrong all the time)–so they send Vera to do something.

When it’s not trying to be more sexist than Frank Miller, Red One is sometimes fun. When it isn’t fun? It’s icky.


Welcome to America, Part One; writer, Xavier Dorison; penciller and colorist, Terry Dodson; inker, Rachel Dodson; letterer, Clayton Cowles; publisher, Image Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 3 (May 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3

It’s another good issue of Squirrel Girl with a whole bunch of action. Doreen gets into a big fight with Whiplash–while I get what North’s trying to do with the dialogue, the Whiplash dialogue isn’t any good, which might be my only complaint about the dialogue–and then has to save her roommate from bank robbers.

And then get to the moon and deal with Galactus. It’s a busy issue, no doubt.

North knows how to pace that busy issue out in a way it reads fast and never has to slow for the exposition to set up the next problem. Some of that comes to how North blocks out sequences–emphasizing Doreen talking to her squirrel over her adventures in an Iron Man suit–but it’s also just the approach to the comic.

Fast and fun; it’s got depth because North’s able.

Though he does endanger many squirrels.


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

Giant Days 1 (March 2015)

Giant Days #1

There’s something very nice about Giant Days, even if its tranquil UK college campus isn’t an entirely clear setting straight off. One might be able to figure it out from the way writer John Allison talks about college and maybe from the characters’ dialogue, but I didn’t get it until a Northampton reference.

Was I not paying attention? Perhaps, but only because I was paying too much attention to Lissa Treiman’s fantastic artwork. Treiman’s got a detailed, personable style but so much movement. Reading Giant Days feels like watching an expertly animated cartoon–Treiman’s not just masterful at movement in a frame, her panel composition is extraordinary.

The story involves three female college freshman, each different, who make fast friends. One of them has a figure from her past return, which causes her complications. Allison’s got great plotting–a funny A plot while he develops the dramatic B.

Days rocks.


Writer, John Allison; artist, Lissa Treiman; colorist, Whitney Cogar; letterer, Jim Campbell; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Shannon Watters; publisher, BOOM! Box.

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: