War Stories 14 (October 2015)

War Stories #14

This issue is a combination of fighter action and talking heads. And Ennis doesn’t have much to say with either of them. He’s doing a history lesson about the U.S. bombing runs on Japan. Nothing else. His characters don’t matter; he doesn’t even try to keep them straight. All they say is exposition. They don’t need to be distinct.

Aira’s art is better, as far as detail, on the fighter battles. Not in terms of composition. In terms of composition, he’s doing all right with the talking heads. Just not on the detail. But the last third of the issue is an air battle full of intrigue and disaster and Aira can’t break any of it out.

Maybe the most frustrating thing about War Stories–when it isn’t good–is how much Ennis throws at Aira without any acknowledgement of the artist’s strengths and weaknesses. War Stories is into its second year. Aira’s been on the book for a long time. Ennis is completely checked out with the final air battle, which is incredibly important visually (and should’ve been the whole comic with flashback inserts), just so he can get to his history lesson in the closing narration.

War Stories, with a real editor, could be consistently spectacular. Instead, it’s just frequently exasperating.

CREDITS

Tokyo Club, Part Two: Black Friday; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Tomas Aira; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

The Fade Out 11 (November 2015)

The Fade Out #11

Ed Brubaker is about to deliver. He and Sean Phillips are break the skylight and get onto the roof. The Fade Out, an entirely grounded detective story set in Hollywood, is about to be where Brubaker joins the very small group of comics writers who I will buy regardless. Because what they do will be something special, even if its mainstream, because their styles may not reflect how comics are progressing as a narrative art form right now, but they will in a few years.

It’s like if Sleeper: Season Two had actually been as good as the first series. It’s like if Captain America really were as good as Catwoman. Brubaker jumps between projects with impatience. He gets excited for the new shiny. Only Fade Out doesn’t have the shiny, it just has the skills. It has the writing and the art and the writer’s understanding of what the art is going to do to this story. Brubaker understands how the comic book is going to read and he lets it inform how he’s writing.

It’s entirely commercial, entirely artistic and sublimely elegant.

He could screw it all up next issue, of course.

That would be very sad.

As for the comic itself, Brubaker gets around to revealing some things Gil should have known about from Charlie. Not to mention the reader. The reader should have known too. Except it works better here defining Charlie as a person, making him more understandable. It’s a genre standard and Brubaker pulls it off.

Then it’s Gil and Charlie on an adventure. It’s amazing. And Charlie’s narration of it, with how the plot progresses and then how Phillips illustrates it, that adventure is where Brubaker and Phillips do something extraordinary. They show how comics noir is its own genre. They prove the argument of their last ten years of work.

Even if The Fade Out flops next issue, Brubaker and Phillips have done something extraordinary with it.

CREDITS

Anyone Else But Me; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight 38 (October 1992)

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #38

Kevin O’Neill doing Batman is already a thing on its own, but O’Neill doing a “realistic” Bat-Mite story. Writer Alan Grant is perfect for the material–a criminal recounts his crime to Batman, this time explaining how he wasn’t hallucinating on peyote, but he was actually attacked and then somewhat befriended by an inter-dimensional elf in a Batman costume.

There’s constant drug use from the narrator so it’s never exactly believable, but there’s so much muted enthusiasm in the way Grant presents the story, the reader wants it to be real. More than just real, the reader wants Batman to discover Bat-Mite, even though they have two very separate storylines.

Grant opens the comic with a humorous tag–“this is not an imaginary story”–it’s just the ramblings of someone whose brain has been destroyed by hallucinogens. It’s really strong work from Grant–the art is outstanding and all, but Grant finds the right angle to tell the story. He plays with the Batman mythos without having to address Batman the character at all. This story belongs to the icon, not a man.

And the dimension of elves dressed up as DC superheroes fighting–with the O’Neill artwork (not to mention it being early nineties DC superheroes)–is just wonderful.

Excellent stuff.

CREDITS

Legend of the Dark Mite; writer, Alan Grant; artist, Kevin O’Neill; colorist, Olyoptics; letterer, John Workman; editors, Bill Kaplan and Archie Goodwin; publisher, DC Comics.

I Hate Fairyland 2 (November 2015)

I Hate Fairyland #2

I Hate Fairyland continues to be an awesome bit of storytelling from Skottie Young. It’s so awesome, there’s nothing wrong with it. Every page has something purely delightful in it–whether or not it’s the issue’s narrator realizing he’s in for a lot of trouble given the protagonist is Gertrude or Gertrude getting hammered and hitting on a frog prince. By making Fairyland all sorts of annoying and awful on its own, even without Gertrude’s kidnapping figuring in, Young has set up the comic to just be wish fulfillment for the reader. Here’s this lame saccharine fairytale situation, just wait for Gertrude to come along and chop it up.

Literally.

While she’s hammered. And she looks like she’s eight.

However, the comic is so successful, there’s really not a lot to talk about. Young works B and C plots–Gertrude’s (unknown to her) nemesis and said nemesis’s more visible agents–perfectly. The villains have a measure of self-awareness, which the background players don’t get to have; Young’s humor works on multiple levels.

And the art is gorgeous.

Once again, I love I Hate Fairyland. There’s nothing not to love about it.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Skottie Young; colorist, Jean-Francois Bealieu; letterer, Nate Piekos; publisher, Image Comics.

Crossed + One Hundred 11 (October 2015)

crossed100-11reg-600x928‘Slims, churchface surprises, a refugee crisis with possible in-filled-traitors. Crossed +100 is the most satirically relevant dystopic sci-fi of modern times that no-one is reading because it’s a comic book. A lot more will read Frank Miller’s oncoming Dark Knight III: The Master Race (myself included) which will doubtlessly contain a lot of heavy handed, big-fisted references to the state of world affairs. Alan Moore’s funhouse mirror to our clash of civilizations leads the reader to reconsider recent events – chiefly the proliferation of barbarism and resulting struggle to defend ourselves without losing human decency – through the disarmingly pulpy prism of the Crossed franchise. The clever conceit of Garth Ennis’ original story was to make the zombie apocalypse subgenre more human and therefore scarier. This spinoff’s logical next step of evolving the Crossed as an organized force of religious terrorism is so uncannily relatable and disturbing as to not only render the old George Romero films kind of quaint by comparison (which Ennis’ original run did a pretty good job of anyways) but to also dissipate any suspense within the flagship series Crossed: Badlands. No wonder Kieron Gillen’s recent arc Homo Tortor was set set in the ancient past, essentially Crossed Minus Seventy-Five Thousand.

Actually talking about issue 11 now; life amongst the survivalers has hit the tipping point where Future’s warnings can’t be ignored any longer. There’s been a back and forth between installments in seeing her go out to learn more about the Salt-Crossed’s moves, then fruitlessly reporting back her findings to Murfreesboro. This is the chapter when the situation finds its way back with her, and it’s not the attackers but the wounded who are banging at the doors. Rafa Ortiz’s sketchy, thin-lined art is wholly suited to depicting the poor and tired huddled masses, while consternation grows amongst the settled. What’s slightly off is that sometimes his character’s faces will appear rushed or haphazardly constructed in some panels, and then become amazingly, painstakingly detailed on the very next page. Halfway through the comic Si Spurrier writes a terrific dialogue between Future and Mustaqba, wherein Ortiz gives Fewch kind of a goofy “angry” face at the start. By the scene’s climax she has one of the most startlingly withered looks of desperation in the entire series so far. Despite that occasional unevenness, Ortiz turns in great work throughout on a challenging variety of scenes: refugee crowds, flashbacks to battle, another heated argument between Future and Ima’am Fajr. There’s also a mysterious and imposing new character who may or may not be another Robbie Greer / Jokemercy.

If we’re still allowed to read comic books a hundred years from now we might be studying Crossed + One Hundred, not necessarily for storytelling technique but as a record of how contemporary fears are more honestly dramatized under the mainstream radar by less genteel entertainments – horror movies, sure, but now also horror comics.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; Series Outline, Alan Moore; artist, Rafa Ortiz; colorist, Digikore Studios; lettering, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Birthright 11 (November 2015)

Birthright #11

Williamson surprises a little bit with this issue of Birthright because he positions the Conan character as sympathetic. Or at least inviting sympathy. There’s this flashback to when he was Kid Conan and coming into his own adventuring and all that fantasy nonsense and he’s a likable character. The gimmick of Birthright is two-fold. There’s that initial hook of doing a really solid modern fantasy thing and then the followup punch of having it all be an evil deceit.

After ramping up the secondary part of the gimmick for so long, Williamson lets the book be fun for an issue. Kid Conan rescues a kidnapped princess or something. She’s not a princess, but you get the idea. It’s neat. And Bressan’s art is awesome.

Bressan’s art this issue might be the best so far in the series. He does the fantasy stuff great, but he also does these modern-day, “real world” talking heads scenes great. His expressions are full of emotion. It makes the flashback narrative affecting. Good stuff.

And Williamson’s soft cliffhanger suggests it’s going to keep being entertaining. Birthright’s just the right amounts of smart, playful and fun.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Crossed + One Hundred 10 (September 2015)

crossed one hundred 10It took me two readings of this issue to realize why it feels like the shortest in the series thus far: terse dialogue between two peoples, the Crossed and the non, is made twice as terse by the rules of Alan Moore’s debilitated future English. Nearly half the pages are an excruciatingly tense standoff between Future and the camp she and her exploratory party stumbled upon, and new info gleaned about the Salt-Crossed is kept in line with Moore & Spurrier’s highly disciplined rationing of revelations across the second arc. Spurrier’s ear for dialogue might actually be better amongst the Salt-Crossed and their sickly lower-tier classes than Future and her fellow survivalers. The introduction of uncrossed humans indoctrinated as servants to the empire of Bosol is a harrowing, barely fictionalized snapshot of how slave mentality continues to function when the slave masters are away.

The only downside to this excellent scene is that it takes so little time to read, there’s barely any story left in the remaining pages. I actually went back and counted them, thinking I’d been short-changed from the usual 22. A heavy firefight action bit in the middle section also sped up the pacing. Since it’s all in greater service of the plot rather than gratuitous pandering, however, you can’t really complain.

Of equal weight to new developments in Future’s adventures, Crossed +One Hundred now has a third artist in the fold: Rafa Ortiz, who’s apparently done prior work elsewhere in the CCU (Crossed Comics Universe.) The changeover from Fernando Heinz is a mixed bag. Though his skills aren’t equal to Gabriel Andrade’s, his character acting still strives towards a comparable level of realism rather than manga-inspired rendering. The grit is back. But man-oh-man, there are two panels that are just BLATANTLY re-used near the beginning of that confrontation sequence, abruptly jerking you right out of the moment. They actually almost mirror each other across the two-page spread, it’s kind of impossible to ignore. Not sure if that’s Avatar’s fault or his – both this and the previous issue are dated for September, what was the big rush?

Hopefully we don’t see that kind of sloppiness again. Especially since Ortiz proves himself otherwise capable throughout his debut installment, both at staging action and depicting complicated outdoor crowd scenes, as he does on the final page. Those two aspects will doubtless become more critical as the saga continues simmering to a boil.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; Series Outline, Alan Moore; artist, Rafa Ortiz; colorist, Digikore Studios; lettering, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Miracleman by Gaiman & Buckingham 4 (January 2016)

Miracleman by Gaiman & Buckingham #4

Here’s the concept for the issue (Gaiman loves his concepts)–Miracleman sells his sperm. Women without children can get the sperm and have star children. Saves the trouble of monoliths and killer computers. You can get a star child real easy.

Some of the issue is about this woman who has a star child and she has a boyfriend who has a regular child. If there’s some deeper message in Buckingham drawing the lady and star child as white and boyfriend and boyfriend’s son as black….

I mean, Gaiman’s Miracleman is on the nose. For what should be an indie comic book, it’s really on the nose. But I can’t believe it’s so desperately on the nose. And, if the comic didn’t go terribly bad at the end, I probably wouldn’t have even thought about the interracial romance aspect as far as Gaiman’s protracted symbolism goes. There’s so much of it elsewhere in the issue, one can only look for so much.

Most of the issue is this “in-world” storybook (with really lame interludes of the lady reading it to the two kids–the star child being, you know, a little flying god) about Miracleman’s baby’s journey across the universe. It’s kind of fun. The storybook aspect. Gaiman does a lot better at writing a pseudo-storybook than he does doing a pseudo-Moore.

Then the reveal. The dude is leaving the lady and her star child told her because her star child has superpowers. It’s all about how this woman thought having a baby would make her life whole and it hasn’t because she had a Miracleman-brand star child.

It’s offensively dumb. When Gaiman was just doing lame characterizations to get to the storybook insert, it was fine. But when he’s doing that storybook to kill pages and take a load of Buckingham and he’s really got some message? One he tries to get through with inept manipulation. At least competent would’ve been interesting to experience. Inept just makes it annoying.

I might be done with Miracleman by Gaiman & Buckingham.

CREDITS

Book Four: The Golden Age; writer, Neil Gaiman; artist, Mark Buckingham; colorist, D’Israeli; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Cory Sedlmeier; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Back to the Future 1 (October 2015)

BttF01_cvrIt’s been less than a month since Back to the Future Day and now we are all, like David Byrne sang in “The Book I Read,” living in the future. The Back to the Future book I read marks a personal point of no return for Back to the Future fandom which I didn’t know I had; the moment the train finally jumps the holographic Jaws 19 shark right into Clayton Ravine. This isn’t a terrible comic, merely “meh”, but that mediocrity forces the question to even the most strident BTTF fan: when is it all enough?

With “(x) years until hoverboards” jokes stale forevermore and the first film’s 30th anniversary also in the DeLorean rearview, subsequent Back to the Future revivals are going to feel pretty redundant when fans have already been treated so well by the nostalgia factory of modern pop culture. In the immediate and intervening years after Part III  there was the cartoon spinoff, the Universal Studios ride, exhaustively spiffed-up DVD and Blu-Ray re-releases, frequent parodies and homages, and new official merchandise virtually every year since 1991. Fans who waited for some type of Back to the Future Part IV more or less got their wish with a very well designed adventure game by Telltale Games in 2010, for which Christopher Lloyd voiced Doc Brown and Thomas F. Wilson recently recorded Biff’s dialogue for the re-release. At some point, insisting on yet more celebrations and revivals of these characters starts to come off as obsessive and greedy. Ultimately there’s just not all that much depth to be plumbed with these characters. Marty McFly isn’t exactly Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Oedipal complexities notwithstanding.

The trilogy’s co-writer Bob Gale has been the guiding hand behind BTTF’s continued vitality, serving as story consultant on the cartoon, the adventure game and now (unsurprisingly) this four-part mini-series comic, all the while giving interviews to anyone who’s ever asked about the continued vitality of BTTF. On the last page before the ads he writes an editorial about his goals for the book, basically stating that since the franchise has already spun out maximum mileage on alternate timeline tomfoolery, this comic could best be utilized to tell new backstories about our beloved Doc and Marty. Prequels! They’re like sequels, only more unnecessary! He’s mostly right to acknowledge that people loved the movies because of the characters, but let’s get real, there’s only two types of Back to the Future fans. There’s people who like the quirky, magical love story of the first one and also have some affection for the sweet, sincere love story of the third, and then there’s people who like screaming UNLESS YOU’VE GOT POW-AHHH!!! and seeing Thomas F. Wilson play seven different versions of the same hilarious asshole. Everything Back to the Future related since the third movie has catered to the latter, partially because it’s the bigger audience but pragmatically because Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson are more expendable. Just ask Jeffrey Weissman.

Issue one of Back to the Future: The IDW Comic launches two storylines. One is Doc telling Clara, Jules and Verne flashback stories about stuff that happened back in the future – in this installment, how he met Marty. In the other, we join Doc circa 1943 apparently being recruited for The Manhattan Project by Robert Oppenheimer. They both read like middling fan fiction, which is really, really bad for stories conceived and partially co-scripted by the series’ original co-author. The biggest problem may be that the trilogy’s appeal is so intractable from its great filmmaking; the excellent cast well directed in a clockwork story seamlessly rendered with expert photography, editing and music. I turn the pages of this book trying to hear the actor’s voices speaking the lines with Alan Silvestri’s music cues behind them, but it just isn’t happening. Like licensed-property video games, comic books have come a long way, but the less spectacle in the franchise the harder the translation. Not that Back to the Future isn’t closer to Star Wars than Crimes and Misdemeanors, but without any time travel in the story, it quickly becomes obvious that we had already had all the facts we needed about Doc and Marty before they started their adventures.

The art on the second story is by Dan Schoening, one of IDW’s top talents who does routinely high quality work on some of their other licensed books like Ghostbusters. His character’s faces are cartoonish but solidly constructed, and set atop realistically proportioned bodies, which is an odd mix when Oppenheimer shows up. His backgrounds are well detailed, which makes the 1940s period setting convincing – Doc’s messy apartment, the Caltech campus, it all looks terrific, as do Luis Antonio Delgado’s colors. But it’s only 6 pages long. The 14 page opening feature story about young Marty breaking into Doc’s garage to steal something for Needles, and then getting offered a job…eh, the art by Brent Schoonover is just as underwhelming as the plot, and next to Schoening’s it’s kind of embarrassing. Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors aren’t great either, everything is unnaturally primary or fluorescent. It manages to be garish and boring at the same time.

The back cover of Back to the Future is an ad for Back to the Future: The Card Game. An equally superfluous product, it may still be more inspired than this comic. At this point, Bob Gale should hang up the Flux Capacitor and instead redirect his efforts towards raising some long-overdue attention for his and Zemeckis’ abandoned children, Used Cars and I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

 

CREDITS

When Marty Met Emmett; story, Bob Gale; script, Bob Gale & John Barber; artist, Brent Schoonover; Inks, David Witt; Colors, Kelly Fitzpatrick; Looking For a Few Good Scientists; story, Bob Gale; script, Erik Burnham; artist, David Schoening; publisher, IDW.

A Train Called Love 2 (November 2015)

A Train Called Love #2

Did Ennis lose a bet? Because A Train Called Love is an astoundingly weird choice for him. Once again, it reads like if all of a sudden there were really good cartoons with short runs. Dos Santos’s art has that vibe as well, but it’s really because of Ennis’s dialogue. The comic is Ennis showing off at how well he can write talking heads. And that aspect, the obvious revelry in his ability, is why I wonder if Ennis lost a bet and had to write the book. Like someone said he couldn’t do a comedy comic book to rival the “hang-out” film. And he said, “All right, read Train Called Love.”

Because it’s hard stuff he’s doing here. Ennis is getting away with extreme, obvious jokes. He’s going after the humor people don’t want to acknowledge liking, much less thinking about, and he’s excelling. That success comes from the character work. Train’s “cast,” thanks to Dos Santos and Ennis, have a lot of personality. Yes, Ennis paces the dialogue to let each person make an impression; yes, Dos Santos’s composition makes them more sympathetic. It’s the synthesis though. I really want to know if Ennis gives Dos Santos compositional instruction in the script or if it’s Dos Santos.

So good.

And then, in addition to this late twenty-something comedy at a bar, there’s this amazing action subplot with some girl and a secret agent.

It’s all so good.

CREDITS

Black Beauty; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Velvet 12 (November 2015)

Velvet #12

Steve Epting is an action artist. It’s what he does, it’s what makes him special. He’s able to do fantastic comic book action, where he makes the reasonable fantastical and the fantastical reasonable. It’s a perfect thing for Velvet, which is a glossy spy thriller set in the seventies after all. The comic’s setting isn’t just good for Velvet as a character, it’s good because it gives Epting so many possibilities.

So when this issue is literally nothing but a windup for a hard cliffhanger promising a big action sequence? Well, it’s not exactly the best use of time. I suppose Brubaker does get a few expository things done, but they aren’t pressing, and he does give Velvet some great narration, which is great and all, but come on….

Give us the Epting action. Brubaker doesn’t even put it on the menu. He sets the entire thing to simmer. The narrative this issue, its possibilities, it’s not going to boil over. He never even suggests it might. So when it does and he stops the comic? Bad form, man, bad form.

Velvet is an entertaining book. It’s not masterful and it’s got problems, but it’s entertaining and competent and visually glorious.

CREDITS

The Man Who Stole the World, Part Two; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Steve Epting; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors; Sebastian Girner and Eric Stephenson; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 20 (November 2015)

Lazarus #20

It’s been too long since I last read Lazarus. The comic’s bimonthly and has been for a while. Maybe forever (no pun intended). But, with Lazarus’s big cliffhangers of late, I guess I expected Rucka to be more sensational with this issue. Instead, he’s reserved. He’s not showing off.

This issue is the first one where I decided I’d read Lazarus again. I probably would have made that decision, but not for a while. With this issue, however… I want to go back immediately following its conclusion. Because Rucka’s pacing is strange. It’s deliberate, it’s distracting, but Rucka’s able to maintain an intense ambition to his storytelling.

And Lark gets to do a bunch this issue. A military combat sequence–beautifully constructed–and a nice little hand-to-hand fight. And some nearly noir machinations scenes. Lark’s not the artist to do the fantastical, which helps make Lazarus’s dystopian future realistic, but Lark is the artist who does the work. So it’s fantastical Lark, which seems an oxymoron, but isn’t.

Really good stuff. I hope the next issue comes out sooner than two months.

CREDITS

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

Where Monsters Dwell 5 (December 2015)

Where Monsters Dwell #5

So light. It’s so light. And it’s a sequel to War Is Hell, which I’ve read at least twice and I can’t remember any of it. Not even when there’s a flashback–got to love the Marvel Ennis-verse.

But, even though it’s light, it’s really funny. Ennis is able to run with a joke until it’s funny. He doesn’t wear the reader down by relentlessly hammering it in, he just molds the joke until it’s ready. There’s a maturity to the humor. Even if the joke isn’t particularly high brow.

This issue wraps up the Phantom Eagle’s adventures in the Savage Land. Does it have anything to do with Secret Wars? No. In fact, it’s just Phantom Eagle in the Savage Land. And the Savage Land part isn’t even particularly important. Ennis and Braun show they can get an issue out of almost any material and they do. It’s good material, sure, but it’s not the most compelling. Most of it is a narrated flashback.

Where Monsters Dwell probably reads better in a sitting, just for how Ennis paces out the jokes. But well done, disposable, excellent amusement.

CREDITS

What Comes of Empire-Building; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Dono Sanchez Almara; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jake Thomas and Nick Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 1 (December 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

I didn’t finish the last Squirrel Girl series, which is getting a very soft reboot here. I think there was a Secret Wars crossover. I’m not sure why I didn’t finish it. No good reason.

Doreen, Tippy and the whole gang are back. Including a couple new people who must’ve come into the comic after I stopped reading it.

The first third of the comic is setting up the new ground situation. Doreen is a sophomore, she’s living with Nancy in an apartment. She has a crimefighting partner who controls chipmunks or something. It’s cute. Ryan North writes some gently funny, amiable dialogue for the characters and it’s fine. Erica Henderson’s art’s good.

But it feels very perfunctory. Until the third act, after Doreen’s mom shows up and there’s a superhero fight scene. Not between Doreen and her mom, but between Squirrel Girl and a Hellboy villain. The fight scene isn’t even the good part. It’s after the fight scene, when North shows why Squirrel Girl is a different kind of book.

North and Henderson are fully aware of where they can go for the joke, but they don’t want to go for the low-hanging gags. They work until they get somewhere with the comic. There’s an infectious, precious sincerity to Squirrel Girl.

CREDITS

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

Where Monsters Dwell 4 (October 2015)

Where Monsters Dwell #4

It’s not deep, it’s not in good taste, it has nothing to do with Marvel Comics, it has nothing to do with Secret Wars, but it’s funny. Where Monsters Dwell is funny. Ennis has a good time–not a great time, because he’s clearly just spinning his wheels to make some smoke and not actually trying anything–and Braun’s art is excellent. Amazons, pygmies, giant sharks, dinosaurs–is Disney aware of this title?

Maybe the only reason Marvel brought Ennis on for Secret Wars was to show they still had some autonomy.

But Monsters Dwell is, four issues in, something of a strange book. The protagonist is a complete jackass, which is Ennis’s point of the character. Only, he’s the protagonist. The comic follows him around, being a jackass. Ennis doesn’t spend any real time with the female lead. She’s joined the Amazons and is off panel most issue.

Seeing how Ennis handles the battle–there’s a battle–one does wish he’d have taken it a little more seriously. I’m sure he would’ve had some great details for the prehistoric warfare.

Instead, it’s just fun.

CREDITS

See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Dono Sanchez Almara; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jake Thomas and Nick Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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