Night’s Dominion 3 (November 2016)

Night's Dominion #3

There’s a lot of intrigue and a lot of characters, but Naifeh gives the Night a good plot. It’s independent of all the riffraff she’s been hanging out with, it ties into the opening cliffhanger resolution, it moves through the issue. It’s overfull, busy, but fairly strong.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Ted Naifeh; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

Hadrian’s Wall 3 (November 2016)

Hadrian's Wall #3

Hadrian’s Wall just got somewhere very unexpected. It’s not clear if the writers are going to take the unexpected route or the familiar, but it’s an impressive narrative development. The issue’s methodical, which works, especially given the art. Reis has a great flow to the interrogation scenes.

CREDITS

Writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Matt Idelson; publisher, Image Comics.

Kaijumax: Season Two 6 (November 2016)

Kaijumax: Season Two #6

Season Two wraps up pitting the two “heroes” of the comic against one another. It’s dramatically successful and (albeit horrifically) exciting as Electrogor defends his kids. Cannon pushes too hard at the end, however, and endangers the nuanced characterizations he’s been doing lately. Worrisome, but otherwise excellent.

CREDITS

Above 9000; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Ether 1 (November 2016)

Ether #1

Ether is about a scientist who finds his way into a magical dimension. He’s got some Adam Strange-like conditions on his visits and a comedic sidekick. He’s also like Sherlock Holmes, complete with nemesis. It’s familiar territory but entertaining with some great art from David Rubín.

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Kindt; artist and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Jessica Jones 2 (January 2017)

Jessica Jones #2

It’s an entertaining issue, with some rather good Gaydos artwork, but Bendis is covering a lot of the ground situation as revelations to cover up for the narrative failings. Jessica Jones doesn’t have its own tone. Alias: The Sequel it’s not, but it’s nothing else yet either.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist, Michael Gaydos; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Alanna Smith and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Kill or be Killed 4 (November 2016)

Kill or be Killed #4

Brubaker’s really unclear on what he wants to be getting across with his now-masked vigilante emo white guy. The comic raises questions, which Brubaker then ignores to let Phillips do a decent but hurried rushed fight scene or two. It’s not good but better than usual.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

Cinema Purgatorio 7 (November 2016)

Cinema Purgatorio #7

Well, it’s not the best issue of Cinema Purgatorio. Not the best at all. It’s not really the worst either, I don’t think. I mean, this installment of Modded is probably Kieron Gillen’s strongest writing. But it’s not a particularly distinct issue.

Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill explore the American Western, which is fine. There’s nothing amazing about it. It’s actually a little obvious; it’s light, which is strange.

Code Pru is okay. Ennis is trying a little harder. It doesn’t really come to anything. Maybe he if he had even two more pages, he’d be able to get someplace better with it. It’s actually an improvement over the earlier stories, it’s just still not clicking.

Like I said before, Modded is Gillen’s best writing. Nice art from Nahuel Lopez. It’s a side story from the main plot, so of course it’s going to be better than usual. Gillen still manages to screw it up at the end, of course.

A More Perfect Union has a really nice double-page spread from Michael DiPascale and some stupid Civil War reference from Max Brooks. I don’t care. No one cares, Max Brooks, no one cares. If they cared, if Avatar is really pitching Cinema Purgatorio to Civil War enthusiasts, well, those guys all left during Code Pru and Ennis’s sex positivity.

And The Vast is a reprint from last issue. I think. I don’t even care. If it’s not, nice art from Gabriel Andrade. If it is, nice art from Gabriel Andrade.

Moore and O’Neill worked up some momentum on this book and if they’re running out… well, Cinema Purgatorio is more often disappointing overall than not, it’s just they had a couple really great stories. And Ennis seemed like he was getting with it. As always, it’s too bad it’s not better.

CREDITS

Cinema Purgatorio, After Tombstone; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Kevin O’Neill. Code Pru, Men; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Raulo Caceres. Modded; writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Nahuel Lopez. A More Perfect Union; writer, Max Brooks; artist, Michael DiPascale. The Vast; writer, Christos Gage; artist, Gabriel Andrade. Letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Weird Detective: The Stars Are Wrong (2016)

Weird Detective

A friend of mine describes Weird Detective as the best J’onn J’onzz story ever told. It’s entirely possible, though the protagonist in Weird isn’t an alien from Mars, he’s a different kind of visitor. Weird Detective is Cthulhu and Lovecraft, not little green men.

Though the protagonist is sort of a little green man in his home dimension.

Writer Fred Van Lente gives the protagonist a lot of back story and some great first person narration. He’s come to Earth on a mission, one with a somewhat mundane resolution–humorously mundane, however; Van Lente likes his wry jokes. I mean, the protagonist–Sebastian Green (great noir cop name)–telepathically communicates with his cat. Just a regular cat too. Not a special one. It’s often very funny, but it also goes a long way in giving the book some personality. Because without it, a lot of Weird Detective would otherwise just be a cop comic.

Tentacles vs. Sea Monsters.
Tentacles vs. Sea Monsters.

Albeit one with Lovecraftian sea witches and monsters and so on. The personality carries it through, whether it’s how Van Lente uses the first person narration to get across all these creepy extra-dimensional mind powers Greene has or how artist Guiu Villanova occasionally will play with composition to control the reading pace. It’s a thoughtfully executed book.

The detective gets a partner, who’s secretly investigating him, which he knows about because he’s from another dimension. They have decent but not great chemistry. Van Lente is using the partner as a narrative device to reveal not just Greene’s back story–as she investigates, he reveals to the reader–but she also serves as an expository tool to tie a couple of the plot lines together. She’s not even part of it, just there to voice the exposition. It’s too bad, but far from a dealbreaker for the comic.

Vilanova and the colorists–Maurício Wallace and Josan Gonzalez–do a fantastic job with the setting. It’s this sunburnt New York City, modern but kind of like a colorized film noir with the saturation turned up. Even when Van Lente gives the partner, Fayez, her origin–at the very end too, right before a weak and confusing reveal–and it’s ultra-modern terrorism and police corruption stuff, Vilanova still makes it look like that colorized noir. The book’s got a lot of personality–protagonist, voice, plot, and art. It all comes together quite well.

Bogie offers some advice.
Bogie offers some advice.

In the second half, Greene and Fayez are after the same big bad–sort of, Weird Detective is almost as confusing as The Big Sleep in terms of confusion (there’s a whole Mr. Big creep who’s apparently just around in case there’s a sequel series)–but they’re not working together. Keeping them apart in their investigations means a little bit more filler, but the book doesn’t get anything from it. It’s almost like Van Lente forgot about the bigger mystery until about halfway through. He was having too much fun with the concept before that point.

Van Lente tries hard to make the reader like certain characters. Some of it is just character development, some of it is plot development, some of it is manipulation. Van Lente’s greatest success is in delivering, with Vilanova, a supernatural cop story with a real Lovecraftian bent. Hopefully they’ll do a sequel someday.

CREDITS

Writer, Fred Van Lente; artist, Guiu Vilanova; colorists, Josan Gonzalez and Mauricio Wallace; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Kevin Burkhalter and Spencer Cushing; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name 3 (November 2016)

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name #3

What a lovely issue. Hogan and Parkhouse finally tackle Harry’s origin and do nothing, for the most part, with what should be the A plot. Instead, it’s just Resident Alien offering some payoff for characters its been promising for years. It’s daring in its dedication to itself.

CREDITS

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

The Flintstones 5 (January 2017)

The Flintstones #5

Russell tries a little too hard; he splits between 2016 U.S. political metaphor–sort of–for Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm and some really heavy stuff for Fred and Barney. Like, old war stories heavy. It’s well-written enough, beautifully illustrated, but it’s too thin for Russell’s ambitions.

CREDITS

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

Prophet Earth War 6 (November 2016)

Prophet Earth War #6

Graham and Roy finish Prophet with a weak, manipulative finale. Rushed art and an action movie fight scene. It’s decidedly lacking in ambition. Then they exit by pulling on the longtime reader’s heartstrings, but it’s too little, way too late. It’s a shame what happened to Prophet.

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Roy, Giannis Milonogiannis, Grim Wilkins and Graham; colorists, Joseph Bergin II, Graham and Lin Visel; letterer, Ed Brisson; publisher, Image Comics.

Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York 2 (November 2016)

Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York #2

There are a couple plot twists and they’re both lame. Worse is Pak’s revelation Big Trouble Jack Burton has the same super powers as the Black Cat. Bayliss is weak on expressions, which doesn’t help Pak’s lame Snake Plissken characterization. Might be time to plan my escape.

CREDITS

Snake’s World; writer, Greg Pak; artist, Daniel Bayliss; colorist, Triona Farrell; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Hadrian’s Wall 2 (October 2016)

Hadrian's Wall #2

The issue’s a little drawn out as far as the script goes, but Reis’s art more than carries it along. And there’s some decent detective investigation exposition slash narration, with the detective recording his notes. But the soft cliffhanger’s weak. The writers take advantage of the medium.

CREDITS

Writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Matt Idelson; publisher, Image Comics.

Kong of Skull Island 4 (October 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #4

There’s simultaneously too much and not enough going on. Asmus doesn’t do any character development, just more revelations in the political intrigue. He hasn’t built the foundation for it. While Magno has some beautiful composition for the still moments, the action’s messy. Kong’s a lot of work.

CREDITS

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

Wacky Raceland 5 (December 2016)

Wacky Raceland #5

The drivers all eat mushrooms and flashback to “The Butcher Shop,” where they got their abilities or cloned or resurrected or whatever. Pontac’s enthusiastic enough but he doesn’t have enough content. Manco’s art is, of course, fantastic and carries most of the issue. While thin, it’s amiable.

CREDITS

The Butcher Shop, Part One: Revelations; writer, Ken Pontac; artist, Leonardo Manco; colorist, Mariana Sanzone; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

I Hate Fairyland 10 (October 2016)

I Hate Fairyland #10

Young wraps up the second arc–which has been loose anyway–with an action-packed finale. There’s a lot of great art as future Gert battles a giant monster and some decent comedic dialogue, but it’s all a little light. Young safely cruises; there’s nothing ambitious here.

CREDITS

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

War Stories 20 (September 2016)

War Stories #20

It’s another excellent issue. Ennis has got a lot of exposition in the dialogue but there’s no better place for it than a war comic; it’s not just for his narrative, it’s for the history too. Script’s steadily paced and Aira’s art flows quite well this issue.

CREDITS

Vampire Squadron, Part Two: The War Effort; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Tomas Aira; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Night’s Dominion 2 (October 2016)

Night's Dominion #2

Naifeh expects a lot from the reader, just in terms of keeping up with the story. There’s not a lot of content, just a lot of action and expository banter. The art’s imprecise and the characters are way too thin. The series is already stumbling too much.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Ted Naifeh; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Two 5 (October 2016)

Kaijumax: Season Two #5

It’s a decent issue, but it’s unclear if Cannon’s building up a new subplot or if he’s just letting something resolve itself here. And there’s the return of awkward, possibly physiologically impossible romance; it seems lazy. It’s like a talking heads issue in a series without them.

CREDITS

Friends on the Outside; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name 2 (October 2016)

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name #2

It’s another outstanding issue of this Resident Alien limited. Some great art from Parkhouse, who particularly excels on the exciting but mundane fire investigation A plot. Harry’s B plot is still unrelated. A superb finish as Hogan brings Harry back into the lead for the hard cliffhanger.

CREDITS

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

Reborn 1 (October 2016)

Reborn #1

Highly derivative fantasy sci-fi afterlife tripe. An older woman dies and discovers she’s Amethyst, Reborn in a Terminator/LOTR knock-off fantasy world. Capullo’s dragon and dropship art is stronger than his people. Millar’s writing isn’t strong on anything. He even rips off some Watchmen here.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Greg Capullo; inker, Jonathan Glapion; colorist, FCO Plascencia; letterer, Nate Piekos; editor, Rachael Fulton; publisher, Image Comics.

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