Godshaper 1 (April 2017)

Godshaper #1

Godshaper is simultaneously weird and simultaneously not. The world has gone back to the dark ages, technology-wise, but everyone got a personal god to compensate. The gods can be modded (Godshaper isn’t the most original book, but Simon Spurrier assembles the details in interesting ways), only you need a Godshaper to do the modding. Yet Godshapers don’t get gods, so they’re pariahs. Only the Godshaper the comic follows has an outcast god, leftover from when its person died. Undoubtedly there’s a story to be told. Until then, they’re unlikely, slightly scheming compatriots. There’s also a whole music thing. It’s a fine read, with solid art from Jonas Goonface.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jonas Goonface; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Black Hammer 8 (April 2017)

Black Hammer #8

The strangest thing about Black Hammer, which I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed before–or did and didn’t comment on (or worse, did and did comment on)–is how both Lemire and Ormston excel at the tragedy. The comic is at its best when the characters are suffering their worst. This issue has a little bit of passive suffering–Gail has no happy memories–but also the active, confounded suffering of new addition Lucy Weber. Lemire has her the catalyst for possible change, giving the reader foolishly renewed hope for the characters. It’s a depressing issue, but gloriously so (Ormston has a great time with it); the cliffhanger is an evil shocker too.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dean Ormston; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Hadrian’s Wall 6 (April 2017)

Hadrian's Wall #6

And another surprising turn of events. Higgins and Siegel were holding out, setting up a soap opera crime melodrama when they really had something else. The flashbacks are now slightly annoying, only because they feel like backstory Higgins and Siegel are doing out of obligation rather than dramatic gristle. They’re explanations of events discussed multiple times in exposition; exposition could’ve gotten the “truth” across as well. Reis has some help on the art–Eduardo Ferigato–and I’m curious where Ferigato came in. There’s some talking heads stuff and it’s okay, but it’s far from dynamic. Though Reis never does lengthy talking heads particularly well. But Hadrian’s Wall still has some surprises in store. It’s a good series. Higgins and Siegel might be in the victory lap with two to go.

CREDITS

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

Redneck 1 (April 2017)

Redneck #1

Texican Gothic with vampires. Donny Cates does this drawling narration for the book, which has a family of rural Texas vampires trying to get by. Some have Jesus, some don’t. One of them might have turned into Nosferatu but with wings. Vampires can get drunk on paint thinner, which is a neat detail. It’s a lot of action, a lot of immediate character introduction. Cates does well with the exposition–the drawl means he can hide a fair amount just in there–and Lisandro Estherren’s art is solid. Redneck starts strong.

CREDITS

Writer, Donny Cates; artist, Lisandro Estherren; colorist, Dee Cunniffe; letterer, Joe Sabino; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Bullwhip 1 (April 2017)

Bullwhip #1

Is Josh Bayer the right person to write Bullwhip? It’s about a seventies female superhero who fights bad guys named “The Misogynist” and time traveling space vampires who are also misogynists. There are enough misogyny “jokes,” one might even think Frank Miller wrote this thing. So, no, he’s not the right person. He goes overboard with the joke and lacks any humanism in his portrayal of Bullwhip. She’s the butt of various jokes and action setpieces, but she’s hardly the lead in the comic. It also has time traveling vampires, which is fine, though it’s all ripped off from popular media (save the vampire aspect). At least Ben Marra and Al Milgrom’s art is all right.

CREDITS

Web of Oblivion!; writers, Benjamin Marra Josh Bayer; penciller, Marra; inker, Al Milgrom; colorist, Matt Rota; letterer, Rick Parker; publisher, Fantagraphics Books.

Hadrian’s Wall 5 (March 2017)

Hadrian's Wall #5

Hadrian’s Wall runs eight issues. Why did I think it was five issues? I might have even thought it was four at some point. Needless to say, there’s a lot more story coming in this issue. A lot more backstory too. The detective is in a prolonged state of withdrawal, which sort of changes the flashbacks–if they’re occurring to him as they occur to the reader–but not a lot. It’s a smooth issue. Gets the rebel pirates introduced, puts these characters in this place; it’s a positioning issue. Higgins and Siegel are rearranging the board. Good art from Reis as always, but there’s not a lot for him to do. The settings are visually boring, actually.

CREDITS

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

Copperhead 12 (April 2017)

Copperhead #12

It’s another too fast read, mostly because Copperhead has been gone so long you want to spend more time with the characters. But it’s also because Moss’s art doesn’t invite dwelling as much as Godlewski’s did. Moss has got the aliens down, he’s got the pace down, but he hasn’t got Clara. Close-ups yes, but not the medium shots. He loses track of her expressions. Still, it’s good stuff. Just rushed.

CREDITS

Writer, Jay Faerber; artist, Drew Moss; colorist, Ron Riley; letterer, Thomas Mauer; publisher, Image Comics.

The Flintstones 10 (June 2017)

The Flintstones #10

Wilma gets a job, the mayor’s war-spending goes overboard, and Fred and Barney discover the cinema. It’s a meandering issue, but Russell touches on a lot. Pugh gets some great stuff to draw, there’s tragedy, there’s irony, there’s political commentary. It’s all kind of heavy too. Flintstones is always kind of heavy.

CREDITS

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

Hadrian’s Wall 4 (December 2016)

Hadrian's Wall #4

I have no idea what just happened. I mean, I do. Higgins and Siegel are straightforward writers, even when they’re doing flashbacks and big reveals in quick sequence. But it has a strange plot development for the first issue of the back three. And while there are flashbacks to Earth, all of a sudden Reis’s art feels more claustrophobic. As the stakes raise for the characters finally, it’s like the book’s visually closing in. It’s a good issue with some excellent work from Reis.

CREDITS

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

Aliens: Dead Orbit 1 (April 2017)

Aliens: Dead Orbit #1

What’s Aliens: Dead Orbit about? Too soon to tell. Aliens, most likely. And a refueling station in a dead orbit. Maybe. It’s really all about James Stokoe doing an Aliens comic. There aren’t even aliens in this issue–not really–just that wonderful Stokoe art. Great detail for the spacecrafts, great detail for the cast. It’s not all out Stokoe detail, but it’s good Stokoe detail. And he gets in plenty of cute Alien visual homages without being dependent on franchise familiarity. What happens next? Who cares so long as it’s Stokoe.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, and letterer, James Stokoe; editors, Rachel Roberts and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Cinema Purgatorio 9 (March 2017)

Cinema Purgatorio #9

If Cinema Purgatorio were “shown” in a marathon, I think we’ve hit the point where even Alan Moore’s asleep. Garth Ennis too. But a couple of the backup guys are doing better. Sort of.

Anyway.

Purgatorio is about Thelma Todd’s death. Sadly Moore’s script for it is really boring. It’s like something didn’t work out. He thought it’d be more interesting but, instead, he’s just got occasional Batman visual cues because Todd’s lover made a movie called The Bat, which supposedly inspired Bob Kane (and, you know, Bill Finger) but whatever. So? I don’t think anyone ever doubted Kevin O’Neill could draw a giant bat.

It’s kind of fine, but in an unambitious sort of way. Moore might have peaked on Purgatorio.

So too might have Ennis. He’s got a lot of content for Code Pru but nothing he’s fixated on. It’s zombies. And not even Crossed, so it’s not even cute. Ew. Crossed and cute. But he’s just churning it out. I think there’s even a reference to the Code Pru “pilot” where she was a witch, which I don’t think he’s done before. Caceres’s art is fine. It’s not on him.

Now, I make that complaint and it usually means Ennis is going to do something really cool next issue. Fingers crossed.

More Perfect Union. Brooks doesn’t have his history text piece anymore, which is great, but his exposition is getting more verbose. Are they connected? I don’t care. It just means it’s a lot more maybe made up, maybe just for Civil War enthusiasts’ information. It’s noise. Really nice art from Andrade. He’s got good detail. It’s sort of impersonal, but the strip is also a parade of boring visual concepts.

And then Modded, which I hate having to enjoy, is once again pretty fun. Gillen’s writing characters. They’re obnoxious and thin, but with the personality from Lopez’s art, it doesn’t matter. There’s still way too much lingo and it feels like a dated post-apocalypse, so I don’t love it or anything, but I almost look forward to it. I don’t mind it, which is something; I used to loathe Modded.

And The Vast is The Vast. Great art from Andrade, little kaiju, big kaiju. Again, not personality but this time because it’s so poorly paced. Gage has somehow set up this comic one wants to like, but just can’t because it’s humorless. There’s nothing fun about it. Gage seems miserable and bored.

Cinema Purgatorio is getting to be a chore; I liked the book before Moore showed he could do awesome and amazing comics with it. I also miss liking Pru. She was really cool there for a while.

CREDITS

Cinema Purgatorio, Revelations of the Bat; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Kevin O’Neill. Code Pru, Night Without Dawn, Day Without End; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Raulo Caceres. A More Perfect Union; writer, Max Brooks; artist, Gabriel Andrade. Modded; writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Nahuel Lopez. The Vast; writer, Christos Gage; artist, Andrade. Letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Providence Party

The Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ horror masterpiece Providence has just finished, so what better time to talk about what the end of Providence means; not just for faithful readers, but for comic books as a medium.

Occasional guest co-host (and Comics Fondle blog contributor) Matthew Hurwitz of Danger Burger and Joe Linton of Facts in the Case of Alan Moore’s Providence join me for this ninety-minute special.

Cthulhu fhtagn!

Right-click and save as MP3

Lazarus 26 (March 2017)

Lazarus #26

The arc ends. Finally. Forever is back in action. Supporting cast members are working together towards something in the future. There’s a lot of exposition, a lot of flashbacks–Rucka packs the issue with material, all before Lark lets loose on a big action sequence finale. This arc, which took the creators a while to get out, seems like it has too much material. The war stuff gets lost and is just exposition until Forever gets into the fray. Then it just goes crazy. It’s a good issue with some great art, but it feels a little like Lazarus has had a course correction. Hopefully the future will be smoother.

CREDITS

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

Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special (May 2017)

Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special

Booster Gold meets The Flintstones. Then there’s a Jetsons backup. Both are fairly rank, though Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti try to infuse Jetsons with the political subtext Mark Russell usually brings to Flintstones. He doesn’t in the feature though. He just has Booster Gold be an idiot because Booster Gold is an idiot. It’s sort of the comic one would’ve expected from a Hanna-Barbera imprint at DC… unlike the actual Russell Flintstones comic.

Nice enough art on the feature from Rick Leonardi and Scott Hanna. Pier Brito’s Jetsons art isn’t ready for primetime.

CREDITS

Booster Trouble; writer, Mark Russell; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Steve Buccellato; letterer, Dave Sharpe. Eternal Upgrade; writers, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti; artist, Pier Brito; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Michael Heisler. Editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Providence 12 (March 2017)

Providence #12

Providence is over. In less than two years, Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows (and Avatar) have gotten out this series. No offense, but none of them are known for being speedy. But it’s finished. It gets to go on a shelf soon, next to the other Alan Moore hardcovers. It’ll make it into bookstores, it’ll make it into libraries; given it has a Lovecraft “hook,” it’ll be discovered and rediscovered through that connection.

But it won’t permeate, which is fine. We don’t live in a world deserving of Alan Moore appreciation.

There’s going to be time to read the comic again, in one sitting. There’s going to be time to read it again in whatever other way Avatar figures out how to package it. Gigantic hard cover. Late, of course.

And there’s going to be more to find, because Moore works in serial narrative to provide a cohesive finite reading experience too. Who knows what kind of panel echoes there will be throughout Providence next time.

So how’s the comic? It may be a little divisive. Moore has a very personable, loose writing style when he wants. Is life but a dream… sadly no. But reading should be. It’ll be interesting to see how that theme echoes through the whole series. Moore doesn’t cheap on the comics for the issue though. He and Burrows deliver a great finish. The art is crazy controlled. Providence has always needed an oversize printing, but this last issue just goes further with it.

Providence probably should be read when wearing a VR headset and each panel filling your field of vision. The detail’s so good, it should be immersive. But it’s the last issue of Providence and one wants to read it, not dwell on every background detail. It’s the end of the world, everyone gather round.

Providence is done. I wonder when the hard cover comes out.

CREDITS

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

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