Writers Pasetto and Cantamessa have a lot of words this issue. Lots of exposition, lots of talking back and forth, blah, blah, blah. It’s not a talking issue, it’s an action issue. It’s a leading up to action issue. It’s pages and pages of good Ketner art before they get to the fight with the minotaur and then Ketner really gets to unleash. Kill the Minotaur has a decent enough script, but it’s Ketner’s fluid, energetic characters who keep it going.
And the monster’s just the right amount of implied and seen horror.
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.
This issue wraps up the second arc. I haven’t decided if I’m going to wait for the trade or just read the second arc again in one sitting, because Black Hammer has arrived. Lemire and Ormston do New Gods, they do Darkseid (sort of), they do a big climatic finish, and it all works. Even when it seems, for a panel, like the pace is off, all of a sudden it’s right back on.
Lemire sets up a bit for the next arc, moving some characters around, then bakes in how he’s going to do the finale. It’s subtle and thoughtful. And Ormston’s panels are those heartbreaking Black Hammer panels. Lush desolation.
Black Hammer just keeps getting better.
Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dean Ormston; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.
So it turns out monthly is too much for us; we’re hoping to hold with an every six weeks schedule. You’ll know if it works in six weeks.
We open the show talking, as always, about the state of things in the comics industry.
After that ever-depressing segment, we talk about these comics: Jimmys Bastards, Divided States of Hysteria, Black Hammer, Doom Patrol, Sabrina, Lady Killer, Spy Seal, Hercules Wrath of the Heavens, Godshaper, Motor Crush, Redneck, Kill or Be Killed, Kill the Minotaur, Slam Next Jam, Kaijumax Season 3, Sacred Creatures, Night’s Dominion V2, Mister Miracle, Dastardly and Muttley.
Then we talk about these trades: Comic Book History of Comics, Slam, Jupiters Legacy vol 2, Alack Sinner.
Sacred Creatures is real long this issue. And nothing happens. Oh, wait, turns out the Seven Deadly Sins have somehow Rosemary’s Babied ne’er-do-well lead Josh’s baby. It’s all part of some ancient plan. Regardless, nothing happens. Lots of talking heads saying nothing and Raimondi and Janson don’t have the writing chops to make it pass. It’s generic, it’s formulaic, it’s boring. Raimondi’s art is still good, but Creatures is desperately low on steam.
Writers, Pablo Raimondi and Klaus Janson; artist, Raimondi; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.
Electrogor returns to Kaijumax–figuratively and literally–but as a supporting player. The goat monster and the human doctor split this issue; his story is a tad more amusing than hers. There are hints of intriguing revelations for him, while she’s just doing more of the same with her kaiju lover. Cannon doesn’t recapture the magic–this issue reads like it should’ve been number one, not three–but he seems like he’s back on the right track towards it. Hopefully Electrogor’s season-long odyssey in Season Two wasn’t all just filler.
Rock Solid Rep; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu and Desiree Wilson; publisher, Oni Press.
Lots of good spy stuff in Spy Seal this issue–including an awesome chase sequence–but it’s at the end where Tommaso hints at how much further the comic might go. It’s not just going to be spy tropes with anthropomorphic animals (the mouse agent is adorable), the plotting is going to be suspenseful and tricky. There’s also a great subplot about Malcolm falling for his mentor, a comely kestrel named Kes. And Tommaso’s thought bubble shorthand for getting information across–he just uses punctuation or ideograms–is fantastic. He’s able to keep up the comic’s pace while still filling out the narrative in each panel.
The Corten-Steel Phoenix; writer and artist, Rich Tommasi; publisher, Image Comics.
Spy Seal is about a seal–Malcolm, the seal’s name is Malcolm–who becomes a spy for MI:6. It’s set in Cold War London, with the Soviets trying to cause turmoil and only so many good guys up for the task. Turns out Malcolm is suited for it, although he only fought Soviet spies because he was drug to an art show (for the free food) when he should’ve been looking for a job.
Creator Rich Tommaso fills this London with talking animals, usually adorable, who are struggling to deal with Cold War tensions boiling over. The animal cast is sometimes inherently funny, but Tommaso’s also got a lot of good scripted comedy. He’s sparing with the puns; they’re often quite subtle and quite good.
His art’s detailed and clean. Malcolm’s adventures take him not just to an art gallery, but also the London rooftops to catch a spy, as well as a dangerous performance piece.
The characterizations are still a little shallow, but it’s early days and Spy Seal is starting strong.
The Corten-Steel Phoenix; writer and artist, Rich Tommasi. Ninja Fukuroh; writer and artist, Joey Weiser. Publisher, Image Comics.
Garth Ennis doing a Hanna-Barbera comic. One with Warner Bros. cartoons references. And gross-out war violence (sort of… war violence, not gross-out, it’s definitely gross-out). What else. Oh, yeah. A man with a dog’s head.
Dastardly & Muttley plays to a lot of Ennis’s strengths–war comics, funny talking heads, reveals–even if it’s a little too slick. Mauricet’s art is gorgeous, but it’s all very controlled. Ennis’s script is all over the place. It’s exagerrated, which helps cover the slightness, and Mauricet’s art grounds it too much.
It’s fun, but it’s not clear if Ennis has plateaued on the fun with issue one.
1: And I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Mauricet; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Brittany Holzherr and
Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.
One of the things I always forget about The Damned is just what a shit protagonist Eddie can be. It’s part of the comic’s DNA. Luckily, Bunn hasn’t forgotten. Needless to say, no spoilers, but it’s an excellent issue. There’s an action sequence, there’s a soul-selling flashback, there’s demons, there’s rain–all things Hurtt excels at illustrating. There’s so much weight in every panel. Damned is haunted in the best possible way.
Ill-Gotten, Chapter 4; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Chris Crank; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.
While Jimmy’s Bastards is only on the third issue, it certainly feels established. Ennis is working on the banter between Jimmy and Nancy–during a shootout–and it seems like it’s going to be Nancy who figures out the plot. Jimmy’s a little too dense for it. Ennis is falling into some familiar characterizations for the villains and his attempts at being anti-politically correct are word balloon fodder, but Bastards is still moving well enough not to trip. Having Braun on the art helps.
Some Animals Are More Equal Than others; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.
New Super-Man is a lot of fun. Writer Gene Luen Yang approaches it like a serious spoof and artists Viktor Bogdanovic and Richard Friend are very much in on the joke.
There’s a secret Chinese agency developing “The Justice League of China.” They need a “Superman” and pick Kong Kenan. Kenan is a high school bully who ends up on TV because of an uncontrollable urge to help people. Yang doesn’t look at that uncontrollable urge, but later in Made in China, Yang does give Kenan some redemption. His bullying, while bad, has its origins in his unresolved pain. He’s deep.
Luckily, Yang concentrates more on the fun than the hints at depth. There are a lot of big reveals in the second half of the book and everytime you have a reveal, it screws with depth. Yang tries, with one of the biggest reveals, to compensate with backstory, but it’s not enough. New Super-Man doesn’t have the wherewithal to do serious political comedy. Instead, it does a reasonable facisimile version. With bickering superhero teams. Because bickering superhero teams are fun.
Kenan has sidekicks in “Wonder Woman” and “Batman.” They both have not as memorable real names. Batman doesn’t like Kenan, which is simultaneously obvious and ingenious. By the finish, when the team is hanging out in their civilian clothes, Yang has completed China’s deftest character arcs. He’s building a strong superhero comic supporting cast, but he avoids obvious bonding moments. It’s cool. The relationships between all three, particularly “Superman” and “Wonder Woman,” are great.
The stuff with Kenan and his dad, which turns out to be extremely important not just for reveals and epical plotting and so on… well, it could be better. The dad’s a little too mysterious, too disinterested. Yang waits too long to work on the relationship. It starts as C plot and waits a real long time before rushing to join the A plot.
Bogdanovic and Friend’s art is good. They handle the action and just the general energy of the book. Kenan’s always antsy, physically impulse, even before he has superpowers. There’s a fine visual continuity to the characters as China goes on. Bogdanovic has an excellent sense of composition. There’s not as much detail as there could be, especially on faces, but the comic’s breezy enough it doesn’t register.
New Super-Man is a good time. Yang, Bogdanovic, and Friend build a solid character, solid pitch, with Made in China. Hopefully they keep Super-Man flying.
Writer, Gene Luen Yang; penciller, Viktor Bogdanovic; inker, Richard Friend; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Paul Kaminski, Eddie Berganza, and Bob Harras; publisher, DC Comics.