Notes | Alack Sinner: The Age of Innocence

AlackSinner1 Innocence PR

The Age of Innocence is a collection of Alack Sinner stories from artist José Muñoz and writer Carlos Sampayo. The stories take place from the early seventies through the early eighties; Muñoz and Sampayo arranged them in chronological order of story content (versus creation order). Published through IDW’s Euro Comics imprint, Age of Innocence is the first of two Alack Sinner volumes. I highly recommend it.

The following are my notes from reading Age of Innocence. I had hoped to write a longer piece about the collection, but I can’t do it justice right now. So, the notes instead.

Talkin’ with Joe


Present storyline: cinematic, slow present action, low dialogue.
Flashback: summary, some of the same visual pacing for scenes, but with dialogue (even if dialogue isn't important--it's being narrated after all).
Also: the ordering of drinks in the narration, bringing it ever present.

The Webster Case


Real first story? Art is a lot tighter, Alack has less personality, supporting cast has more. Goes from investigative detective to detective thriller. Old lady knitting panel forecasts her impact, knitting needle forecasts the solution.

The Fillmore Case


The social aspect. "The mystery." Sinner muscling his way through the case--with The Big Sleep forecasting. The artist's attention to detail; presenting the facts whether or not the reader takes the time for them.

Viet Blues


Most ambitious because it's not a detective story, it's the story of a detective. Supporting cast is different; Alack's loneliness is also a big thing. Story itself is big enough for a novel, especially those panels juxtaposing intellectual debate with the harsh NYC realities.

Life Ain’t a Comic Book, Baby


The comic creators visit, providing meta and supporting cast. Someone for Alack to talk with. There's also the exterior street cutaways during conversation and how they do or do not relate. And it's another conspiracy mystery.

In His Infinite Wisdom


Story is shorter. Moves faster too. Alack doesn't have his own character arc, it's all about the case. Some of the same art devices--exteriors for example--but without corresponding narrative impact. The tense if a little different too. Past tense from long after the case is resolved.

Twinkle, Twinkle


Dick Tracy cameo. Girl getting naked. Back to Alack as a protagonist--Christmas and all, with character development. The case has lots of twists and turns, but there's not reflection on those, just Alack's existence.

Constancio and Manolo


No case, no character arc for Alack. Story of his neighbors set against presidential campaign; the boxer has his boxing story, the grandfather has his war flashback story. The use of grandpa's thoughts and the establishing panels stand out.

Dark City


Post-PI, now driving a cab. No case, just getting involved with people and trouble and romance. Different visual style too. Less exposition compensation. Travis Bickle cameo.

Memories


Alack gets fish, runs into ex-wife, gets drunk, flushes fish. No present action detecting, just flashback. Lots of backstory on Alack.

Encounters


Everything gets tied together. Alack has a daughter, but nothing gets resolved. He's not a detective, he just exists. Mostly a postscript to the comic's events, starting with the trip to visit his father. It's a lengthy present action, at least a month. Alack's actually less functional not being a PI. Frank Sinatra cameo. Kind of a novella sequel to the rest of the comic.

Redneck 5 (August 2017)

Redneck #5

Cates brings Redneck around almost immediately in this issue. He gets the sense of urgency back. He gets the character dynamic back–Bartlett needs someone to talk off, it doesn’t work with the kid. It’s like Cates needs there to be conflict to get character development. Great art from Estherren; Redneck’s exciting again.

CREDITS

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

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 8 (October 2017)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #8

There hasn’t been much Sabrina in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina lately. At least two issues, maybe three. This issue is all Sabrina. It was, like Chilling Adventures itself, worth the wait. Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack put Sabrina through a romance comic adventure, one with some good girl art, while never losing the twisted reality of it all. Aguirre-Sacasa’s writing is stellar, on plotting, on characters. He does this close third person narration, mostly between Sabrina and her dad (who’s possessing her reincarnated zombie boyfriend). It’s twisted and great. Then there’s a witch battle. Hack does it all. There’s even a Jughead cameo. Sabrina has held strong without its lead, but it’s so nice to have her back.

CREDITS

Witch-War, Chapter Two: The Psychopomps; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Godshaper 5 (August 2017)

Godshaper #5

Well. Spurrier sure does get literal in his metaphors this issue. Like, way too literal for Godshaper to have any magic. There are a handful of other reasons why it doesn’t have any magic this issue, like the cheap terrorizing of a little kid and the passive Ennay. He’s not much of a protagonist anymore. Spurrier’s got some ideas, Goonface has some art, but Spurrier hasn’t got the script to keep Godshaper together. I’m invested enough to read the finale, but I’ve got no hopes for it (past anticipating a strong competence).

CREDITS

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

Black Hammer 12 (August 2017)

Black Hammer #12

David Rubín returns for another issue (maybe a few), with Lemire doing an origin story for Lucy Weber. The entire thing is flashback, starting when Lucy’s a kid (right after the heroes’ disappearance) and going until she starts investigating it as an adult. There’s some talking heads, some exposition, some foreshadowing; Rubín beautifully visualizes it all, making the final reveal–which is somewhat static–emotionally devastating. It’s a different kind of Black Hammer, but Lemire clearly knows how to do all kinds of them.

CREDITS

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

Kill the Minotaur 3 (August 2017)

Kill the Minotaur #3

The beginning of the issue is labyrinth intrigue. The minotaur is hunting assorted cast of victims. Ketner’s art is awesome, his pacing is fine, it’s the writing failing to click; art’s awesome. But Paseto and Cantamessa really can’t make the writing compelling. The characters are too thin and unlikable. Oddly, when there’s more exposition in the second half, the writing is fine. The ending’s obvious, but once they’re questing and not actioning? Kill the Minotaur compells. Ketner’s art, the setting. It works.

CREDITS

Writers, Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamessa; artist, Lukas Ketner; colorist, Jean-Francois Beaulieu; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Arielle Basich and Sean Mankiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Kaijumax: Season Three 2 (August 2017)

Kaijumax: Season Three #2

Gangsta bunny kaiju who live on the moon.

What am I even reading? It looks like Kaijumax–it’s not like Cannon’s art style has changed at all–and it has a bunch of Kaijumax characters, but it’s like the worst Kaijumax characters with the worst stories. It’s half about the little Minya taking over his dad’s gang only to discover he’s not tough enough so his imaginery human friend has to goad him and it’s half about the human doctor in love with the evil, abusive kaiju.

So far, Season Three has been every bad impulse from Season One without any of the narrative ambition of Season Two. It’s confusing, sure, but mostly just disappointing.

I never thought I’d question reading Kaijumax but I’m getting real close.

CREDITS

The Bad Place; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Sacred Creatures 2 (August 2017)

Sacred Creatures’s second issue is still a longer-than-normal comic, but still feels like a significant decrease from the giant first issue. Raimondi and Janson are careful with their pacing. They jump around a bit–present, flashback, present, then introduce another character–and Raimondi seems a little pressed on space. His panels are sometimes tiny, just so he can get in all the story. This issue has some reveals, some clarifications; previous issue protagonist Josh seems like more a bystander to the big events going on around him. It’s a fine enough shift. He’s appropriately second-fiddle. It’ll be interesting to see what Raimondi and Janson do next–they’re not grandoisely ambitious, just exceptionally, professionally competent. At least in the writing, Raimondi’s art is plain awesome, even hurried.

CREDITS

Writers, Pablo Raimondi and Klaus Janson; artist, Raimondi; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.

Night’s Dominion: Season Two 1 (August 2017)

Night's Dominion: Season Two #1

Night’s Dominion returns with a reasonably sturdy start. Writer and artist Ted Naifeh juggles multiple plot lines, cutting between them abruptly. However, he opens the issue with a storyteller recapping the previous season; it gets him some goodwill for the later impatience. Naifeh’s art is a little hurried and he does introduce a whole bunch of characters right off, but he’s got a good pace to the issue and it ends with a lot of promise. Of course, so did the last time he did a first issue of Night’s Dominion.

CREDITS

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

Mister Miracle 1 (October 2017)

Mister Miracle #1

Mister Miracle is going through a really tough time in his personal life and it turns out, once again, Darkseid might have the Anti-Life equation. So Mister Miracle, with wife Big Barda, has to get back into the action. But is everything as it seems? Didn’t Barda used to have blue-eyes. Mister Miracle (or Scott) has apparently mislaid his copies of Who’s Who. The issue is designed to have a big hook and Tom King writes it decently, but it’s far from compelling. Mitch Gerads’s art helps quite a bit, though it’s a tad too design-y. The comic feels too static, too manipulative. Why bother getting involved if it’s just a narrative cheat.

CREDITS

Meet: Mister Miracle; writer, Tom King; artist, Mitch Gerads; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Molly Mahan and Jamie S. Rich; publisher, DC Comics.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 39 | August 2017

Two months since our last podcast–we really thought it’d been a month–Vernon and I commit to monthly episodes! Fingers crossed we managed it.

We open the show talking about the Big Two and how lousy they seem to be at making comics people want to read (specifically the House of Bad Ideas).

Then we talk about these comics: Supergirl Being Super, Godshaper, Kill The Minotaur, Redneck, Black Hammer, Kaijumax, Sabrina, Sacred Creatures, Jimmy’s Bastards, Cinema Purgatorio, I Hate Fairyland, War Stories, Aliens Dead Orbit , Mage, Love and Rockets, Empowered, Divided States of Hysteria, Mech Cadet Yu.

you can also subscribe on iTunes…

Mech Cadet Yu 1 (August 2017)

Mech Cadet Yu #1

So giant robots come from outer space and befriend kids, who then pilot them in battle against… whatever. Maybe kaiju. Only this time a robot–a Mech–picks a teen janitor instead of an specially trained teen, because of course the U.S. military has gotten involved and corrupted the whole process. They’ve even built their own Mech; I wonder if the evil cadet who bullies teen janitor Yu will be a problem? Excellent art from Takeshi Miyazawa but utterly hohum script from Greg Pak. Mech Cadet Yu is off a rocky start.

CREDITS

Writer, Greg Pak; penciller, Takeshi Miyazawa; colorist, Triona Farrell; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Damned 3 (July 2017)

The Damned #3

Eddie takes his friend Pauly around town to talk to people about Pauly’s score and their deal for redemption. There’s some awesome demon stuff, some character development for Eddie, some excellent gangster banter courtesy Bunn, and, of course, the glorious Hurtt artwork. It’s a fine issue–laying hints for what’s to come–and it’s nice to see Bunn and Hurtt have found their Damned tone again.

CREDITS

Ill-Gotten, Chapter 3; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Chris Crank; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Supergirl: Being Super 4 (August 2017)

Supergirl: Being Super #4

Tamaki brings Being Super to its finish with a packed final issue. Even with some actual dramatic action moments, she still isn’t able to recover the series–and the epilogues seem like there’s a dictated roadmap for any Super origin story, even if it’s Elseworlds-y like this one. Kara’s got a lot of first person narration, probably too much, but the issue gets some last issue leeway. And Jones has a great issue as far as the art goes.

It should’ve been a whole lot better though.

CREDITS

Who I Am.; writer, Mariko Tamaki; artist, Joëlle Jones; colorist, Kelly Fitzpatrick; letterer, Saida Temofonte; editors, Paul Kaminski and Andrew Marino; publisher, DC Comics.

Redneck 4 (July 2017)

Redneck #4

A flashback issue. Vampires in the Old West. Only, not much of them because–besides an initial battle scene, with the characters narrating from the present–Cates writes the rest of it as summary. It’s all right–great characterization for the narration–but it doesn’t give Estherren much to do. Western adventure it isn’t. Turns out Cates isn’t ready to give away any secrets–something the characters talk about way too much–and it’s all setup for revelations next issue. It’s solidly produced, but mostly show, no substance.

CREDITS

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

Cinema Purgatorio 11 (June 2017)

Cinema Purgatorio #11

This issue of Cinema Purgatorio, at least for the fist two stories, is maximum effort for minimal result. Both Moore and Ennis write the heck out of their stories without much reward.

Moore and O’Neill do the “Black Dahlia” murder case, with victim Elizabeth Short narrating in song. There’s even a Marilyn Monroe cameo. Moore goes through a lot, suspects, intrigue, tangents, but it never really adds up to anything. O’Neill keeps it visually cohesive; it’s just never adds up.

Then Ennis and Caceres’s Code Pru has Pru getting a promotion (or something) after a meeting with a head honcho. Lots of effort from both Ennis and Caceres. Tons of dialogue. None of it adds up. Ennis is sort of better with the length constraint than before, but also sort of worse. It’s not episodic enough.

Brooks tackles some racism and sexism in A More Perfect Union. Not well, but whatever. Andrade’s art is good.

Modded continues to be relatively painless thanks to Lopez’s art. Nothing happens this time, good or bad. It’s not enough, though. Lopez doesn’t have anything interesting to do.

And, finally, The Vast. Some nice work from Andrade, some vague intrigue, some decent talking heads, but no payoff. Just like everyone except Moore, Gage isn’t any good at plotting out these installments. It’s not even concerning anymore, it’s just Cinema Purgatorio.

CREDITS

Cinema Purgatorio, My Fair Dahlia; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Kevin O’Neill. Code Pru, A Nest of Anacondas; 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.

Jimmy’s Bastards 2 (July 2017)

Jimmy's Bastards #2

Ennis retreds more familiar territory this issue–Jimmy’s Bastards really does feel like all his most successful elements set into a new, gimmick-y book, but it sure does work. Especially here. There’s a lot of banter between Jimmy and his female partner and some nice foreground and background humor. Braun’s art is fantastic–the issue opens with a helicopter assault on a golf game, then moves on to investigation and conspiracy. And Idi Amin as a cameo. Because Ennis. It’s perfectly solid, accessible Ennis. This issue’s success suggests he might even be able to keep it going for the whole series.

CREDITS

Ninety-Nine Percent; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

Kaijumax: Season Three 1 (July 1)

Kaijumax: Season Three #1

For the third season, Zander Cannon returns Kajiumax to, well, Kaijumax. He’s now following around the Monster of Devil’s Canyon or some such creature–basically a giant goat, raised by religious humans (or at least he calls them Mom and Dad). He doesn’t fit with the other mammalian monsters, but at least they’re not always beating on him like the lizard ones. Or are they? There’s also a bunch of intrigue and foreshadowing involving a volcano monster–who stars in the opening prologue, hinting at great import. It’s okay. It’s a lot of talking monster heads without any narrative or information. It’s all atmosphere and not particularly compelling. Fingers crossed it’s just a slow start.

CREDITS

The Bad Place; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Kill the Minotaur 2 (July 2017)

Kill the Minotaur #2

With most of the action taking place in the Labyrinth, this issue of Kill the Minotaur takes a more supernatural, more horrifying turn. Writers Pasetto and Cantamessa play it for slasher suspense, teasing out ideas, hinting at eventual imagery, then going for twists in the revelations. They’re winnowing down the supporting cast while establishing some backstory. The issue moves well–it’s all action, save the prologue–full of tension. Great art from Ketner. It’s hard to know where Minotaur will go next, but if this second issue’s any indication, it’ll be somewhere unexpected and good.

CREDITS

Writers, Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamessa; artist, Lukas Ketner; colorist, Jean-Francois Beaulieu; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Arielle Basich and Sean Mankiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Black Hammer 11 (July 2017)

Black Hammer #11

It’s a bridging issue–though it’s still unclear what Lemire’s setting up. Lucy Weber continues her investigation, sort of recapping everything. Nothing new exactly, just some rather nice Ormston art. Barbalien has a showdown–both in the present and in flashback; it’s well-written, but it’s character development, not progressing the overall narrative. Again, some great Ormston art. Gail has the most dramatics, but not character development. Meanwhile Abraham sort of pops in to keep a couple of the other subplots alive. Black Hammer isn’t in idle, Lemire is arranging the pieces to move forward. It’s almost a mellow issue, even if it’s got a lot of emotional heft.

CREDITS

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

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