Wacky Raceland 3 (October 2016)

Wacky Raceland #3

Once again, I’m left a little perplexed by Wacky Raceland. It’s still not wacky, unless they’re trying to rebrand “wacky” as something out of a Mad Max movie, which would make sense. Wacky Raceland feels like corporate synergy on overdrive but it doesn’t matter because writer Pontac’s ideas are engaging enough. Oh, and because Leonardo Manco’s art is awesome. There’s not a lot of original design, just good execution of the standards for post-apocalyptic societies with old cars. Lots of examples for that setting.

And Pontac does try to build the characters. He has a pattern now–a few characters get a story, the other ones fight well-drawn but a little too obscure monsters, then things wrap-up. Every issue is kind of a done-in-one.

This issue’s character is some girl who ran away from a bad situation and things went even worse because of the apocalypse. Manco does that story as a Greek fable. It’s not successful. It’s well-intentioned, but it’s not successful.

But it barely slows the comic down just because of the momentum Pontac and Manco work up in the rest of it. Wacky Raceland’s a cool comic.

CREDITS

Poseidon’s Toilet; writer, Ken Pontac; artist, Leonardo Manco; colorist, Mariana Sanzone; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

I Hate Fairyland 8 (August 2016)

I Hate Fairyland #8

How much magic is there in I Hate Fairyland? An endless amount. Young’s reinvigorated on the book, with Gert doing a done-in-one where she tries to get out of Fairyland again. Does it work, does it not, doesn’t matter so much as the comic is actually moving. It might not be moving overall, but it’s giving this great “questing” illusion of moving.

Plus there’s the wacky video game fight sequence by guest artist Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz. It shows how well Young actually writes this book. The banter is just as good when the art style is completely different. Fairyland just fires on all cylinders.

I can’t even think of a complaint. It’s the perfect length, the ending is hilarious. I like this new approach to the comic–it’s Young not just giving readers what they want from Fairyland (namely Gert being a badass), it’s the best way to tell this story. Gert’s like Conan. Conan needs lots of adventures.

CREDITS

Writer, Skottie Young; artists, Young and Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz; colorist, Jean-Francois Bealieu; letterer, Nate Piekos; publisher, Image Comics.

Manifest Destiny 22 (August 2016)

Manifest Destiny #22

No way, Sacagawea gets something to do. Not a lot, but Dingess actually gives her something to do. Then he skips out on the leads of Manifest Destiny and heads into the past for the flashback. Lots and lots of flashback. The longer it goes on, the more fantastic Dingess is going to have to tie it into the present action. Something really lame with the journal from the flashback, perhaps. Though it makes no sense at this point how the guy could be journaling his adventures.

There’s some great art from Roberts and Tony Akins and Stefano Gaudiano because there’s always great art in Manifest Destiny. This issue doesn’t have much but great art. Well, it does have one surprise choice. I mean, there are a lot of “twists” this issue in the flashback, but it only has one surprise. Unfortunately, Dingess has used up any goodwill when it comes to expecting his cliffhanger moments to go somewhere good. Destiny is a plodding book these days.

The present action is extremely minimal. Lewis and Clark are interchangeable. Dingess has killed the pace of the comic. Yet it’s hard not for the book to compel on some level–Roberts doing this Corps of Discovery Expedition with monsters, it’s really a cool thing. There’s also some really uncool magical stuff.

Manifest Destiny desperately needs editors who can reign Dingess in, who can help break out a story, who can keep the book on track. Until then, I go into every issue expecting it to be my last.

CREDITS

Sasquatch, Part Four; writer, Chris Dingess; penciller, Matthew Roberts; inkers, Tony Akins and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Owen Gieni; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Sean Mankiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Spidey Zine (2016)

Spidey Zine

Spidey Zine, a fan made “little comic collection” from Hannah Blumenreich, is wonderful. Some of the strips run a couple pages, some run longer. Blumenreich identifies the adorable and the admirable in Peter Parker. Reading Spidey Zine, you totally understand why Betty Brant went for him back in Amazing #7.

Yeah, a bit of warning–Spidey Zine makes you proud of all your Spider-Man knowledge, whether you’re happy to have it or not. Blumenreich even makes some fundamentally uncool things like the Ben Reilly Scarlet Spider costume design wonderful.

But Blumenreich isn’t as interested in Spider-Man as the superhero as she is in Peter Parker, the awkward teenager who puts on a costume and defends Queens. There’s a poignancy to the comic, an fundamental understanding of not just what makes the character tick, but what makes the character so beloved. The idealism.

While Spidey Zine does focus on exploring Peter Parker as Spider-Man, there is still quite a bit looking at how Spider-Man exists in the world. For Peter, for May, for the people Spider-Man helps. Blumenreich perfectly balances everything in these strips. How much verisimilitude, how much danger, how much humor.

Basically, Marvel should start throwing money at Blumenreich.

You can read Spidey Zine for free. If you read Spider-Man, if you watched “Amazing Friends”, if you know what the “Clone Saga” means, if you just like good comic strips–Blumenreich’s style feels like a long-form comic strip….

Spidey Zine is spectacularly amazing.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Hannah Blumenreich.

Freely available, https://gumroad.com/hannahblmnrch/.

Kong of Skull Island 2 (August 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #2

This issue of Kong of Skull Island is a moderate disappointment. The book was off to a surprisingly strong start after its premiere issue, only to stumble through every page of this second one. Occasionally, Asmus and Magno hit a stride for a couple pages, but there’s always another drop off. Asmus loses his strong protagonist for the issue, whether she’s present or not. The opening has her, but it’s a mess of an action scene. Magno has some really cool art of the Kong, but not much else. He’s rushing through what should be the character moments.

There’s way too much with a royal wedding involving the protagonist’s boyfriend. He’s marrying a more appropriate princess. It’s annoying stuff and paced entirely wrong. When the Kong trainer does show up again, the comic’s almost over. She’s just there to have a fight with the prince dude before something else happens.

Asmus doesn’t connect with any of the material this issue. He’s adapting, so the plot isn’t his fault, just his inability to find a way to write it with personality.

I really wish the comic had been better. It’s almost there on the art–Magno has some great stuff, he really does, but better art isn’t going to fix the writing.

CREDITS

Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cinema Purgatorio 4 (July 2016)

Cinema Purgatorio #4

Holy shit, is Gillen’s Modded a GamerGate thing? Are we supposed to hate the women for telling the sweet little dude what to do? I really hope not. I hope it’s just a dumb scene. Gillen’s writing on this story is already so lame, I’d feel even worse if he were actually trying something subtle with political commentary and just failing at it. Fine enough art from Calero as usual.

Way too short Vast from Gage and Andrade. Again, fine art, crap writing. But Gage really doesn’t have any time to do anything. It’s almost not fair to call the weak writing weak.

And then the Max Brooks thing. DiPascale’s greyscale digital art is too flat this entry. It’s a weak script with the giant ant fighting but there should have been more personality to it.

Notice I went through all the weak stories in this issue of Cinema Purgatorio first? Because the good stories are worth their own time and some due respect.

First, Garth Ennis. And Code Pru, the most disappointing thing in Cinema Purgatorio. Ennis and Raulo Caceres started it as its own thing, got to a promising place, flubbed it when they went to this anthology. It’s not a supernatural book anymore, it’s a monster comic. Maybe Ennis is doing a movie tie-in, who knows. It doesn’t come across. What does come across is good writing though and this issue’s entry of Pru has some great Ennis dialogue. It just doesn’t involve Pru or her partner. He’s not interested in them because all they do is exposition. It’s a mess but there’s still some Ennis goodness. Caceres’s art is too dark for black and white though.

Finally, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill doing an homage to Willis H. O’Brien and King Kong. It’s lovely and makes me wish Moore and O’Neill could do this book forever. It’s a shame the other stories in the anthology have anything to do with movies. Moore and O’Neill deserve far better co-creators. Great art on it, some wonderful writing from Moore. It has to be seen to be believed. It makes the issue–this somewhat disastrous Avatar anthology–an essential comic book. Moore’s a show-off with Purgatorio. O’Neill less but he’s still very confident, but Moore’s having a great time with reader expectation. They’re doing great work.

CREDITS

Cinema Purgatorio, A King at Twilight; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Kevin O’Neill. Code Pru, Mommy’s Boy; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Raulo Caceres. Modded; writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Ignacio Calero. A More Perfect Union; writer, Max Brooks; artist, Michael DiPascale. The Vast; writer, Christos Gage; artist, Gabriel Andrade. Letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Johnny Red 8 (August 2016)

Johnny Red #8

Garth Ennis has made me cry before, I’m sure of it. Definitely wet eyes at some tragic war story. Not what I was expecting from Johnny Red, especially the way he brings in the present day stuff, which I’ve never liked in the book. But Ennis has this licensed property and he goes very big with it for the final issue. He gets schmaltzy, he gets as close to saccharine as he probably gets. But then he pulls back a little and starts talking about the idea of the comic–the idea of Ennis doing a Johnny Red comic in 2016, being the Garth Ennis who puts so much work into his war stories.

And he goes somewhere else. He and artist Keith Burns have already softened the reader. Burns’s art isn’t strong on the open, either. He rushes through the cliffhanger resolution and just throws the schmaltz at it. It’s not artful schmaltz. It’s pulpy and Johnny Red is supposed to be pulpy, right?

No. It’s supposed to be serious and Ennis spends the last three-quarters of the book being very serious. He talks to the reader about the war story, asks the reader to look at it in a certain way, not another. To question the whole idea of the comic. It’s really deft, really great stuff from Ennis. It puts Johnny Red high up on his post-Punisher work. It gets to be the longer form war comic Ennis does right.

And out of nowhere, right? Titan Comics! Who knew.

CREDITS

Za Rodinu; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Keith Burns; colorist, Jason Wordie; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jess Burton and Steve White; publisher, Titan Comics.

Deathstroke: Rebirth 1 (October 2016)

Deathstroke

All right, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve got to open this discussion of Deathstroke: Rebirth with the following disclaimer–I’m probably not going to read another one of these comics. I hope other people buy it, I hope other people read it, I hope Priest sticks around at DC. I would love to read more new Priest books, especially ones with good artists like this series. Carlo Pagulayan draws a beautiful espionage thriller with a little bit of DC Universe connection.

It’s a modern day spy thriller, nothing more, nothing else. Slade is haunted by whatever happened to his two sons and whatever happened to his old handler. But he’s a mercenary in Africa now and there’s this whole Deathstroke mystique going with the locals. It’s kind of cool. Priest writes the dialogue well. But it’s nothing a solid Deathstroke story from twenty years ago wouldn’t have had.

And that solid feel is where I can’t get excited, can’t get motivated for the monthly commitment. I’m glad DC can make this book though. You go back a few years, they wouldn’t have–pretty sure I read the New 52 Deathstroke. It would’ve either been lame or terrible. Not a good mainstream super-anti-hero book.

I just need to remember to check in when the first arc gets collected.

CREDITS

The Professional, Part One; writer, Priest; penciller, Carlo Pagulayan; inker, Jason Paz; colorist, Jeromy Cox; letterer, Willie Schubert; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Alex Antone; publisher, DC Comics.

Providence 10 (July 2016)

Providence #10

Well. Providence. Robert Black gets his comeuppance for a lot of inept behavior earlier in the comic. He also finds out Lovecraft is a bigot, not to mention how sometimes the universe rewards endeavors. It’s not a weird comic because what’s so great about the reveals is how Moore started building towards them so long ago, but still keeps them relevant. It’s a masterfully written comic book. The only thing Moore takes more seriously than the Lovecraft stuff is the humor. It’s so sad and it’s so funny.

Burrows plays into that success–he’s got a lot of wonderful detail on protagonist Black as he’s having revelations about what’s really going on. There’s visible intensifying of the character’s stress; it might be as obvious as sweat or just how he’s holding his hands. Burrows’s art is phenomenal, which is even more impressive when one takes into account how strange the comic gets.

Moore opens with horror, then he goes over to uncomfortable social stuff, only to go further and start thinking about the end of the world. Then he closes with a horrifying, hilarious final reveal–amid what should be the ominous ceremonies to bring back an Elder God or whatever. It’s nuts.

And then the back matter is awesome. Moore and Burrows have fully trained the reader by this point to accept the comic book narrative as truer than the commonplace book back matter, so when they flip how it works, it’s just great.

It’s an excellent comic; of course it’s an excellent comic, it’s Providence.

CREDITS

The Haunted Palace; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Jacen Burrows; colorist, Juan Rodriguez; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: