War Stories 18 (April 2016)

War Stories #18

Ennis pushes through to the end of his gunboat arc and it’s a bit of a chore. Aira doesn’t do well with the second half of the issue, which is where there’s all the action. It’s not exciting action; these characters aren’t sympathetic, they’re obnoxious and annoying and intentionally so. It’s so strange to see Ennis go out of his way to make these characters so unlikable. I wish there were some deeper commentary to it and there may be, but it doesn’t come across.

The strangest thing about the issue is Aira’s art. Not the stuff on the boat, which is confusing and there’s a couple panels where the side of a guy’s head disappears, but some of the long shots in the early part of the issue. If it weren’t so poorly computer colored–War Stories and its digital shading for perspective are the pits–and if it were in black and white, there might be something to it. Aira’s shapes, in the distance, have presence.

I wish someone knew what to do with this comic book. It doesn’t seem like anyone–Avatar, Ennis, Aira–have the slightest idea what War Stories should be doing. It’s a shame.


Send a Gunboat, Part Three: Commence, Commence, Commence; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Tomas Aira; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

The Flintstones 3 (November 2016)

The Flintstones #3

Wow. It’s beautiful and all, but, wow, what a downer. I mean, the whole thing is just depressing from page three, especially since Pebbles understands The Flintstones exists in a world without any value whatsoever on human life. It’s not hard to see what kind of commentary Russell is making about our modern world, gorgeous Steve Pugh art or not.

Space aliens visit Bedrock and basically destroy the place with their technology. It’s strange for a third issue because the main cast–even though they have important things to do–don’t have much to do as the main cast. Russell’s not building character relationships, he’s not developing anything. If Betty even shows up, she doesn’t have much in the way of lines. Certainly none memorable. Even Fred’s part in the story is only memorable because of how tragic it gets.

It’s kind of a heavy book. Gorgeous, but heavy. It might be too cynical, in fact. Russell’s writing is fine–I suppose the story’s a little light (it’s basically snippets of disaster)–but it’s fine. It’s just so fatalistic I don’t know why I want to read it. There’s better social commentary out there–the Fox News joke is the most obvious and the weakest–and I’m always onboard for Pugh….

But, come on, give the reader a single smile, right? PTSD group sessions don’t lead to smiles, neither does mass murder.


A Space Oddity; writer, Mark Russell; artist, Steve Pugh; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

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