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.

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