The Fiction 1 (June 2015)

The Fiction isn’t a particularly strange book. The story isn’t strange. Even though it deals with getting sucked into a world of infinite imagination and danger, still not a weird story. Writer Curt Pires is very matter of fact about it. He seemingly gives the reader all the available information–it’s about adults returning to this alternate reality for the first time since they were kids. They seem to know as much as the reader does.

It makes Pires immediately trustworthy. He’s apparently The Fiction #1not doing the thing where the characters are another part of the puzzle (at least as far as what they know, not their meaning in the story). It’s a nice change. The Fiction is compelling without being tricky.

What does make The Fiction different is artist David Rubín. He’s not otherworldly exactly, but he’s also definitely not realistic. He’s like a fantastic cartoonist.

It’s a cool book.


The Story of Everything; writer, Curt Pires; artist, David Rubín; colorist, Michael Garland; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Howard the Duck 11 (April 1977)

Howard the Duck #11

It’s Howard without Beverly–in a delirious state he assumes she has run out on him with one of the hairless apes but it’s really innocent (or so we hope)–and that change in balance would be enough to get the issue done. It’s Howard fending for himself and all. Gerber could easily fill the pages with that angle.

Instead, Gerber adds to it–Howard’s still sort of delirious, even though he’s a little better, but then he’s on a bus with a collection of spiritual types and a fetching, lisping lady and his nemesis, the kidney lady. It’s weird. And it moves. Gerber and Colan do the movement of this bus beautifully. The pacing is just stunning.

And Gerber ignores all the plot points one might assume in the issue. He even goes out on an entirely unexpected hard cliffhanger, but displays it as a mild ending.

Amazing work.


Quack-Up!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Auteur: Sister Bambi 2 (June 2015)

The Auteur: Sister Bambi #2

Spears seems a lot more concerned with making this issue fun than anything else. The film crew gets to a jungle island and runs afoul of a giant gorilla, which the immortal serial killer brings to a graphic finish. It gives Callahan something to do because most of the rest of the issue is talking heads. Even when it’s the lead–whose name I still don’t remember–meeting with a dream plane script doctor, it’s talking heads.

A lot of the busy work of the issue has to do with the lead and his giving the part in his new picture to the Nazi girl, Isla, and not his girlfriend, Coconut. The Auteur needs more than lame relationship drama. It needs grandiose, absurd, awful relationship drama. It’s a tepid feature of an otherwise outlandish story.

Callahan’s noticeably light on backgrounds too….

It’s amusing, but Sister Bambi is definitely somewhat undercooked.


Writer’s Cock; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Howard the Duck 10 (March 1977)

Howard the Duck #10

Steve Gerber tears down comics and rebuilds them in this issue of Howard the Duck. Well, maybe just in the first ten pages of the issue. He hangs out in the rebuilt part for the rest of the story. Real quick–Gerber’s Duck is an idea of where mainstream comics should go. And it’s a rejected idea. Seeing all the potential the medium and industry squandered is depressing.

The comic has Howard dreaming about his current psychological predicament. Gerber makes it a story about a duck out of water without ever showing the reader the water. It’s all inferred (Howard’s home) and it collides with all the political commentary Gerber is doing. It’s awesome work. So, so good. So thoughtful.

This issue also gives Colan a bunch of strange stuff to draw. He does it. Colan is realistically rendering the absurd while still keeping it absurd. It’s awesome work too.


Swan-Song …of the Living Dead Duck!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery 2 (June 2015)

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery #2

It’s another mellow issue of Resident Alien. I wish it were a weekly, just with a scene or two. This issue has Harry investigating (of course) and getting rid of a problem employee. There’s practically more drama in the employee’s going away party than in the investigation. It’s certainly livelier.

Most of Harry’s investigating is in the form of a pulp non-fiction confession. There’s flashback art and Parkhouse does a rather good job with it. One forgets, when he’s setting stories amid the calm of Harry’s town, he’s so capable of doing intense suspense. There’s some really good art this issue. And not just on that suspense–the gentle hard cliffhanger has some great art too.

With only one more issue of Sam Hain–the third Resident Alien series–one has to wonder if Hogan has a plan for the series. Then one has to wonder if it matters.


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

Howard the Duck 9 (February 1977)

Howard the Duck #9

The cover promises the action of Howard the Duck battling a giant beaver at Niagara Falls. The comic doesn’t disappoint; that sequence, beautifully rendered by Colan and Leialoha, ends the issue. But it comes after an extremely goofy and sort of sad adventure for Howard and Bev.

He’s lost the election, which is unfortunate, and he’s got to clear his name. More, he’s got to clear Bev’s name–a photo of them bathing together was leaked to the press. It’s a fix though. She doesn’t like the smell of wet feathers. Gerber has a beautiful way of keeping the reader off balance, revealing this strange details of Howard and Bev’s “regular” lives. It’s a neat idea, to acknowledge the characters have time off from the reader’s scrutiny.

The investigation leads them to Canada. Gerber has a lot of good Canada jokes. He doesn’t have to get mean with them either.


Scandal Plucks Duck; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Where Monsters Dwell 2 (August 2015)

Where Monsters Dwell #2

Ennis is a funny guy. He’s so funny, in fact, I wonder if sometimes he isn’t funny just because he doesn’t want to get the reputation for being another funny comic book writer. Or maybe he just has actual ambitions outside writing a funny and exciting, if disposable, comic book.

Where Monsters Dwell continues the tale of the chauvinist pig male flier and the independent British lady in the Savage Land. The sad part is its a Secret Wars crossover, which means it probably can’t have a sequel continuing their misadventures together. Ennis gives them all the banter of a screwball romantic comedy–in fact, the comic sort of plays like one–but none of the romance. There’s no chemistry. And it’s hilarious.

As always, Braun is just as good at dinosaurs as mega-sharks and people. The whole thing is a slightly filling, elegantly designed, incredibly tasty little treat.


Meet the King; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Dono Sanchez Almara; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jake Thomas and Nick Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 8 (January 1977)

Howard the Duck #8

This comic is difficult to believe. Not the content of the issue, where Gerber just goes wild with a look at American presidential candidacy, but its very existence. Marvel Comics published a comic about the American public rabidly anticipating the assassination of political candidates. They let Gerber get away with it, they even paid Gene Colan to draw it. It’s amazing in its existence.

As a comic, it’s pretty good. Gerber’s plotting is strange. The issue really just is a series of assassination attempts on Howard’s life. There’s barely any character development. Gerber is just moving Howard and Bev from one setup to another. It’s efficiently done too, which is cool. It feels like a race.

The art, from Colan and inker Steve Leialoha, is awesome as usual. But this issue gives Colan and Leialoha a lot of thriller sequences they also have to make somewhat amusing. They confidently succeed.


Open Season!; writers, David Anthony Kraft, Don McGregor and Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Irving Watanabe; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Order of the Forge 3 (June 2015)

The Order of the Forge #3

It’s the end of the Forge, but hopefully there will be more adventures of “tubby” Benjamin Franklin and “dick” Paul Revere and “loyal to the King” George Washington as they fight supernatural evil before the American Revolution.

Gischler has a lot of fun, as usual with the comic, but it’s hard for it not to seem rushed. Reading the first two issues of the series, it felt like it at least needed five parts. Instead, it gets three and the ending of this issue–which plays like The Goonies finale–isn’t enough.

The issue opens abruptly and–besides a kiss between George and his lady friend, who gets so little character development I forgot her name–closes with a bad action sequence. Besides the girl and (tubby) Ben Franklin, Bettin draws everyone about the same. So you’ve got four lookalikes having a fistfight.

It’s still amusing, just way feels abbreviated.


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

Howard the Duck 7 (December 1976)

Howard the Duck #7

It’s an amazing issue. Primarily because it ends with Howard the Duck being made a Presidential candidate, but also because Gerber hits every right note throughout the issue. He introduces politics into the comic after finishing up the previous issue’s cliffhanger. It involved a giant gingerbread man attacking Howard and Bev after being brought to life by a seven year-old mad scientist.

And this issue is political intrigue mixed with absurdist humor. Okay, I suppose there’s some absurdist humor to the gingerbread man but it’s somewhat broader. And there’s the built in classiness of that sequence–unexpected as it may be–because Gene Colan adds class to everything.

But the way Gerber sets up Bev and Howard in this political convention, the time he takes setting everything up; he layers the entire second half of the comic with plot hints and moments of character development.

It’s brilliantly done stuff.


The Way the Cookie Crumbles!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, Jim Novak; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Invisible Republic 4 (June 2015)

Invisible Republic #4

The present continues to be a problem in Invisible Republic. Dystopian, otherworldly newspaper stories just don’t have much potential apparently. Especially not when the solution is simple–either Maia dies (regardless of how) or she lives. She might be some kind of mythic figure or a rich lady or a poor lady, but there are limited options.

It appears Bechko and Hardman understand those limitations because they keep making the present stuff more complicated. In this issue, the male reporter gets a female sidekick. She’s a better character than him, which seems like a good sign, but then their joint investigation is boring.

Meanwhile, the flashback to Maia working in bees is good. The writers have a good idea for her story, they just put it in a somewhat useless frame. Hopefully that frame will get better, but it’s actually been getting worse.

As always, some gorgeous art from Hardman.


Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; editor, Brenda Scott Royce; publisher, Image Comics.

Howard the Duck 6 (November 1976)

Howard the Duck #6

Part of me desperately wishes Gerber and Mary Skrenes (who helped with plotting) just gave Colan a scary house script and then had the absurdism added later. Because if you took out the word balloons and the narration boxes, it would seem like Howard and Beverly had ended up in a twisted Marvel horror comic. Tomb of Dracula almost, though the scene where fundamentalist Christian cult kids threaten Howard is scarier than anything in Dracula.

The beautiful part of the script–all of the art is beautiful; Colan does some great work–but the script’s beauty is in how little humor Gerber goes for. He doesn’t make any of the obvious jokes. He plays everything straight, which just makes it funnier.

He does some nice character development on Beverly this issue. She and Howard are on the outs over a cigar squabble.

Gerber changes up Howard; it works out great.


The Secret House of Forbidden Cookies!; writers, Mary Skrenes and Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Fade Out 7 (June 2015)

The Fade Out #7

The Fade Out doesn’t feel like anything but itself. Seven issues in and Brubaker and Phillips have shed any comparisons to their previous work; it’s another in their line of collaborations, but it’s wholly independent from them. One of the factors for it standing on its own so quickly is the lack of fantastical elements. It’s about creating the fantastic through “regular” human ugliness.

This issue opens with Charlie and Maya off on the beach enjoying a getaway weekend. Phillips has his delicate sex scenes, which give each panel a certain weight and pacing of their own, and even when Brubaker hints at the main plot lines, it’s gentle, conversational. The reader is on a getaway too. But, like Charlie, the escape can only last so long.

It’s not really a getaway so much as a scenic bridge. And maybe the best bridging issue I can remember, thanks to Phillips.


The Sound of Waves; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

Howard the Duck 5 (September 1976)

Howard the Duck #5

If you’re a duck stuck in the Marvel Universe, how are you going to earn some quick cash? Wrestling, of course. Everyone knows fighting crime doesn’t pay and you’ve got to look out for number one!

Howard and Beverly are having money troubles–I love how Gerber gets around to discussing the obvious logic problems in Howard (I can only hope there’s the sleeping situation issue)–and Howard tries finding a job of his own.

Beverly’s modeling gig isn’t going to make them millionaires, after all.

His misadventures get him on TV–fighting a clown (the clown did hit him with a cream pie)–and then working as a collection agent. Not any kind of work for a respectable duck, hence the wrestling for ten grand.

There’s a lot humor, but Colan’s pencils really show the humanity of it all. Gerber works some considerable magic with Howard the Duck’s thoughtfulness.


I Want Mo-o-oney!; writers, Martin Pasko and Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterers, Gaspar Saladino and Irving Watanabe; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 4 (July 1976)

Howard the Duck #4

Gene Colan pencils this issue and does a good job of it. He’s not a definitive Howard illustrator except he does manage to draw everything besides the duck perfectly. And his duck is really good, it just doesn’t have as much personality as it could.

The story this issue has Howard and Beverly happening across their groovy, narcoleptic artist neighbor who fights crime while he’s sleep-walking. Again, Gerber figures out a way to look at some comic book superhero stuff without having to leave the issue. As for the Cleveland locations, Gerber and Colan don’t concentrate on it. It could be any city. Bigger or smaller.

There’s eventually a lot of action with a variety of forms for the antagonist. Gerber just happens across these amazing situations for Howard. His being a duck is still immaterial to it, one forgets he’s not just a human in a duck suit.


The Sleep… of the Just!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Annette Kawecki; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Gotham by Midnight 5 (May 2015)

Gotham by Midnight #5

I asked for Templesmith Spectre and Templesmith Spectre I got. I shouldn’t have asked for so much. Giant Spectre deciding whether or not to judge Gotham City. It seems like it should be okay, but it’s not. Maybe because the giant monster is just a blob of ghosts or something. Maybe because Batman figures into it and Templesmith can’t bring the cinematic scale to a Batwing attack and it just doesn’t work.

Or maybe because the drama of the issue is whether or not the boss of the unit is going to shoot Corrigan in the head to stop the Spectre. Worse, Fawkes feels the need to go with a shock soft cliffhanger. There isn’t much personality to the issue either.

It’s a disaster issue by a couple guys who don’t seem to know how to scale one out.

The art’s nice, the writing’s okay enough; it just doesn’t connect.


Judgment on Gotham; writer, Ray Fawkes; artist, Ben Templesmith; letterer, Saida Temofonte; editors, Dave Wielgosz and Rachel Gluckstern; publisher, DC Comics.

D4VE 3 (February 2014)

D4VE #3

This issue of D4VE is the very definition of a bridging issue. Nothing happens. D4VE starts the issue getting ready to go to war against the alien invaders, he ends the issue getting ready to go to war against the alien invaders.

Except he makes up with his wife and he and his son bond. Why? No reason. At least the son is hanging out with him so the reader gets to see some of the bonding, but the wife just up and calls and forgives him for being terrible.

Except D4VE hasn’t really been terrible so it’s a pointless thing for her to apologize for. D4VE is clearly going to be right about the aliens–Ferrier shows the aliens plotting against the robots, shows the robots being too dumb to catch on. It’s a treading water issue.

There’s some decent art from Ramon but the issue grinds along painfully.


Writer and letterer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Valentin Ramon; publisher, Monkeybrain Comics.

Howard the Duck 3 (May 1976)

Howard the Duck #3

What’s so great about Howard the Duck–or one of the great things, as I’m now discovering there are a lot of them in the comic–is how Gerber is able to use the absurdity of the concept to examine comic book reality. Howard and Beverly exist in a world with the fantastical nature of the Marvel Universe, but without any of the magic.

This issue has some of the magic spilling over in a kung fu master. It’s an entirely absurd, hilarious, beautifully drawn sequence but Gerber’s able to do it sincerely too. Howard, a blowhard closet intellectual, is a real character. He just looks like a duck and talks to Sam Spade. And Beverly’s already showing more depth than expected.

John Buscema does the art this issue. It works out well, though he doesn’t have the detail (or the Donald references) Brunner brings to Howard.

Another great comic.


Four Feathers of Death!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, John Buscema; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Annette Kawecki; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 2 (March 1976)

Howard the Duck #2

What an amazing comic. Gerber tells the story straight–so it’s this very simple tale of a talking duck, this girl he likes, this boy who likes the girl the talking duck likes and then the talking turnip who controls the boy who likes the girl who the talking duck likes.

The turnip and the duck don’t know each other. But they must do battle, as is the way of the world.

In the meantime, Gerber gives the boy this great overdone sci-fi space odyssey through his own mind as the turnip takes over. Gerber imaginatively–and not hostilely–snickers at sci-fi.

Of course, there’s also the talking duck. And his lady friend. They have a great relationship between Gerber never writes Howard as anything but a jerk yet Beverly always falls for it. She’s an optimist, clearly.

Great Brunner art–dirty Donald at times.

Very good comic.


Cry Turnip!; writer, Steve Gerber; pencillers, Jim Starlin and Frank Brunner; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Letter 44 17 (June 2015)

Letter 44 #17

I wish Soule would slow down. This issue of Letter 44 coasts through–I also wish Alburquerque would get better. Even if he didn’t get better overall, on his full page spreads; if only he would get better at those pages. Because Soule loves using them for emphasis and the art on them doesn’t work out.

This issue has the most with the President in a while, but not enough. Soule’s split of plots–the President, the old President, the space mission–skips the most interesting for the least. And the least is the space stuff; Soule is drawing everything out but the adventures of the crew as they quietly deceive one another is boring. The political stuff is decent, the former President’s stuff not as much (Soule frames flashbacks in an interview).

Letter 44 is losing its toughness, losing Soule’s willingness to offend to provoke critical reaction.

Too bad.


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

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 6 (June 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #6

I’m not sure why Busiek feels the need for Dusty; he’s the puppy guy who’s sort of the protagonist of the comic. He only ever uses him to deceive the reader. In this issue, the human is doing something he doesn’t tell Dusty about so there’s that surprise for reader and character, but then Busiek’s got Dusty doing something the reader doesn’t know about. So he’s not reliable and not because he’s shifty, but because Busiek’s just using him as a vantage point.

It’s an okay issue of Autumnlands. Dewey does rather well with the disaster and action sequences (the human still doesn’t look good); his art makes the comic. Without it, Busiek would just be spinning his wheels.

There’s more political intrigue this issue. There’s more coincidences leading to big changes in the political spectrum. There’s more implied characterization than actual. It’s slight. It’s gorgeous looking, but Autumnlands’s shallow.


Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterers, John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt; publisher, Image Comics.

Howard the Duck 1 (January 1976)

Howard the Duck #1

It’s not clear if it’s going to be the secret of the series or just the secret of this issue, but the way writer Steve Gerber makes Howard the Duck work is by coming up with this hippie political commentary plot and except have it narrated by Sam Spade.

Only Sam Spade isn’t a P.I.

And it’s not Sam Spade. It’s Howard. The talking duck. Gerber moves Howard through the comic like a forties heavy. He’s Edward G. Robinson chewing on scenery while Gerber spins this crazy story of a powerful magician who also happens to be a complete square who wants to use a cosmic calculator to rearrange the universe.

And there’s a girl.

And a Spider-Man cameo.

And gorgeous art from Frank Brunner. Gerber gives him a lot of weird stuff to draw but it’s all weirder going together and Brunner nails it every page.

Awesome comics.


Howard the Barbarian; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller and colorist, Frank Brunner; inker, Steve Leialoha; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Manifest Destiny 15 (June 2015)

Manifest Destiny #15

I figured out what’s wrong with Dingess’s writing. He can’t do the scenes. It’s like he’s got an amazing outline–he can do the plot, he can do the dialogue, he can even do the narration (most of it)–but he can’t do actual scenes. Or maybe it’s a strange disconnect between how Dingess writes and how Roberts composes the scenes.

But I doubt it–Roberts is comfortable enough to show off quite a bit this issue. He takes advantage of the script’s possibilities. Those possibilities come from Dingess’s dialogue and characters and plotting. So, if there is a disconnect, it’s from Dingess.

But it’s Dingess who provides the awesome–the blue bird talks and is a big jerk. The bird’s got a modern sense of humor against Dingess’s period people. Also awesome looks at pre-human American civilizations.

Destiny works out overall, it just imagines better than it acts.


Writer, Chris Dingess; artist, Matthew Roberts; colorist, Owen Gieni; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 5 (March 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #5

Busiek’s kind of showing his hand with Autumnlands this issue. Not the plot as, though some of it, but more just how the comic’s going to be, how it’s going to read. It’s magic talk around a bunch of anthropomorphic steampunks. Maybe I’m just sick of Busiek not knowing what to do with the narrator. When he just narrates, it’s really annoying.

The issue’s story is a lot of political maneuvering and double-crossing and so on. It’s competently done, but never interesting or original. There’s a lot with the champion, usually through the narrator’s eyes, with these little asides letting the knowing reader in. If you don’t want a narrator, don’t use one. Don’t undermine him, not unless you want the reader not to like him, which is a perfectly reasonable (if unlikely) possibility.

Dewey’s art seems a little hurried and he’s still no better at drawing the human.


Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterers, John Roshell and Albert Deschesne; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 17 (June 2015)

Lazarus #17

Where did Lazarus come from? Every time I read it, I have to remember it wasn’t always one of my favorite comics. Far from it. But now, even when Rucka can turn the series at a ninety degree angle and still come out doing not just something special but something special for artist Lark too–I just have to wonder… where did it come from? Did Rucka know he’d eventually be able to take it across genre without ever leaving the world he set up?

This issue is not a traditional Lazarus issue. It’s a war comic. It’s even a homefront comic. It’s a war comic with the soldiers, it’s a war comic with the generals. It’s still a Lazarus comic with the family politicking. It’s a lot.

The Lark art is phenomenal. The digital snowflakes do serve the story, but sadly hinder me getting to gawk at Lark’s art.


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

Ms. Marvel 15 (July 2015)

Ms. Marvel #15

Okay, what is Wilson doing?

She knows where the story beats are for this issue but she doesn’t hit them. Kamala gets her first broken heart. Wilson gives it the last page and less emphasis than a string of Star Trek and Star Wars references. After a big gamer reference.

Did Marvel’s market research come back on Ms. Marvel or something? Because it’s darned frustrating considering the rest of the issue is pretty good stuff. There’s an amusing “real world” products in the comic book context with Bruno using Siri and Kamala’s phone being better than anything James Bond had in the sixties and maybe seventies. Wilson’s got the chops to do something amazing and, every time something significant comes up, she goes for the cheap shot.

And the overall plotting is getting stretched.

Ms. Marvel’s still an exceptionally likable comic, Wilson’s just making it more likable than exceptional lately.


Crushed, Part Three; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Takeshi Miyazawa; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Sons of Anarchy 22 (June 2015)

Sons of Anarchy #22

For the first time since he took over writing the book, Ferrier delivers a good Sons of Anarchy script. He doesn’t waste too much time with his new character–the obnoxious club prospect who turns on them–and he gives everyone else enough to do. He actually works on Jax’s character, which is cool.

Unfortunately, Bergara’s art is just as inappropriate as always. It seems like a Saturday morning cartoon, not a gritty comic book. There’s lots of blood this issue, but lots of blood not a comic book make. The prospect looks like mean Archie, everyone else looks slightly goofy. It’s like Bergara’s saying not to take the comic too seriously and not the sentiment one needs while reading it.

Ferrier’s moves are quite good once the issue gets going–so good it’s almost possible to overlook the art problems–and it ends well. Except the art, of course.


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

Ms. Marvel 14 (June 2015)

Ms. Marvel #14

When I started reading this issue of Ms. Marvel, all I could think was, “I hope Wilson doesn’t make Kamala’s ‘too good to be true’ love interest too good to be true.” Because lumping Kamala in with all the other teen superheroes who’ve fallen for someone they shouldn’t have? I hoped, pointlessly as it turns out, Wilson wouldn’t go down that path.

But I never expected her to do it in one issue. Especially not an issue where she finally turned the brother into a full character (he and Bruno have “the talk”). It sends a really odd message about Kamala actually not being able to think for herself, which I’m sure isn’t Wilson’s goal but it’s definitely what happens.

Miyazawa’s artwork is lovely this issue. Not perfect, but lovely. It’s idyllic, New York trash on the streets romance. It’s a shame Wilson went with the norm and chucked it.


Crushed, Part Two; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Takeshi Miyazawa; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Letter 44 16 (May 2015)

Letter 44 #16

I really hope the Builders didn’t build the Chandelier to zap a huge asteroid about to hit Earth, saving us from extinction when all we could do was imagine we needed to war against these benevolent visitors.

Because it would be really lazy writing from Soule and this issue of Letter 44 isn’t lazy. The art’s still got problems and Soule’s soft cliffhanger is goofy, but everything else is rather solid. It’s just hard to adjust to it, because–after jumping forward in time last issues–Soule sort of waited until this issue to continue the story he started the series with.

He’s got a fun scene for the President and a truly awesome one for the first lady. Alburquerque really drops the ball on the latter.

It’s not a perfect issue. It’s rushed, both in terms of the narrative and the art. The cliffhanger. But it’s often quite good.


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

Rat God 5 (June 2015)

Rat God #5

The final issue of Rat God has multiple surprises. First and foremost? The conclusion. Corben has the reader’s imagination, he has the unseen horror element down, but the way he uses it is unexpected. He has all this built-up fear to dispell. And he does so with a mix of story and of art. Rat God feels very complete.

The second surprise? A big action sequence. Corben goes wild with this 1920s speeding car chase and escaping danger action. It’s an awesome change of pace for the series. Somehow Corben got the idea to put all these familiar elements together and bring out something entirely unexpected.

He’s very careful, very deliberate. Even though the art is essential, it only works with this writing. Corben’s really putting together some great horror comics. He’s not just leaving his mark on the genre, he’s moving it forward while he leaves that mark.


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.

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