Angelic 3 (November 2017)

Angelic #3

It’s not a great issue of Angelic. It’s an all right issue, but it’s kind of an action-packed bridging issue. Spurrier’s just setting things up for next time. There’s trouble brewing with the flying monkeys. The flying manatees are lying to Qora, the good flying monkey girl. There are weaponized cats, who aren’t friendly.

The action is paced quite well. Even though the issue isn’t a substantial read and Wijngaard mostly impresses just because he can keep up with the story, it’s got a good pace. You keep turning pages, expecting something significant to happen.

And it doesn’t. There are all sorts of hints at significant things, but they aren’t the same as substantial moments in the comic.

I was hoping Angelic would be smooth sailing after its bumpy start and solid second issue. It appears it’s going to be bumpy throughout though.

CREDITS

Heirs and Graces, Part Three; writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Caspar Wijngaard; letterer, Jim Campbell; publisher, Image Comics.

The Ruff & Reddy Show 2 (January 2018)

The Ruff & Reddy Show #2

The second issue of Ruff & Reddy might as well be the first. By the time it’s over, the series is basically in at the point where it should’ve been at the end of the first issue. Or the beginning of this one.

Instead Chaykin plots out this long issue featuring Ruff and Reddy have to go to a pop culture con and sign autographs. They’re being hounded by the young agent but don’t really want to sign on the dotted line yet. They’re too proud.

Even though they’re sad and miserable. The comic goes on forever, without a lot of content. Rey’s digital art is fine, it’s just not at all interesting when all he’s visualizing is the anthropomorphic leads standing or sitting around alone and sad.

Maybe if Chaykin turns out to have a story in mind, the series will recover. From this issue, however, it doesn’t look like he’s got a story in mind at all.

CREDITS

A Cautionary Tale In Six Parts, Part Two; writer, Howard Chaykin; artist, Mac Rey; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editors, Michael McCalister and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Redneck 7 (November 2017)

Redneck #7

Redneck starts its second arc jumping eight months ahead from the previous issue. The family is in hiding. JV is on guard duty 24/7, Bartlett is on punishment (of sorts), Perry is cheating at cards. New vampire Landry is learning the ropes but still not particularly welcome.

There’s a lot of exposition in the comic. Lots of vampire information. Not a lot of personality though. Bartlett narrates but without having anything to do in the comic, except chastise Perry once and pal around with Landry.

It’d probably be more engaging if Estherren’s art weren’t all of a sudden kind of lazy. His style hasn’t changed, he’s just not keeping the energy up with some of it. But he’s still great on other stuff. It’s uneven in a way he’s never exhibited before.

In just six issues, Redneck has gone from being exciting to not to exciting again to not again. This arc is off to a not exciting start.

CREDITS

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

Jimmy’s Bastards 5 (November 2017)

Jimmy's Bastards #5

And there you have it, don’t count Ennis out, not even on Jimmy’s Bastards.

It’s been a rocky series and this issue’s probably just another peak, but it’s a good peak. It’s beautifully paced, it’s funny, it’s dry. The Britishness comes through.

The issue’s all action. Regent’s doing things and Nancy’s doing things. Bloodshed and dead Regent offspring ensue.

But what does a good issue of Jimmy’s Bastards mean? It doesn’t mean the comic’s saved. It’s been too rocky. When Ennis is on for a series, he tends to be on for it. At least by issue five. Bastards is an ongoing, which is concerning enough for Ennis these days, but one without a clear point? Well, it’s hard to get invested in the comic again. Beyond reading it, enjoying it, appreciating it. Anticipating it is out.

Which is fine.

Good art as always from Braun, including a great double-page spread of Nancy’s skydive landing. The book’s fine, with some standout issues, it’s just not consistent.

CREDITS

Better Get the Puppy; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Guy Major; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

Copperhead 16 (November 2017)

Copperhead #16

One of the most frustrating things about Copperhead is how effective it can be. This issue ends with one heck of a standoff and it’s kind of cheap, but it isn’t because Faerber has done so much work on the characters and their relationships it can’t be cheap.

This issue has the secret origins of Sheriff Clara. It’s also got some revelations about Zeke and Zeke’s dad. The B plot is the good guys trying to track Clara down. The B plot is where Faerber gets in all that Copperhead texture. Where it’s serious even though all the aliens are cute.

Moss’s art gets real hurried and real thin by the end of this issue. The scenes aren’t complicated. They’re just rushed. It starts early too. By the end of the book, it’s looking rough. Hopefully the art turns around. The writing can carry it but it’d be nice if it didn’t have to do so. Moss lets the expressions go and Copperhead needs its expressions.

I just hope the art’s back on for the next issue; Faerber makes a lot of promises for the next issue.

CREDITS

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

Punisher: The Platoon 3 (January 2018)

Punisher: The Platoon #3

This issue of Platoon is Ennis looking at the quiet time for Frank Castle and his unit. Most of the issue has to do with Frank trying to get better rifles for his men. There’s some stuff with the Viet Cong, there’s the framing sequences, but really, it’s just an issue about Frank trying to get better rifles for his men. It’s very, very strange.

The comic itself is phenomenal. Ennis’s dialogue, his narration, the plotting, it’s all great. Parlov’s art’s great, but playing more for… humor. There’s some absurdity of war stuff going on and Ennis tries to find the humanity in the characters’ reactions to it. He also nicely echoes sentiments from the past to the future with the modern day framing stuff. It feels very whole.

But it’s strange. It’s not really a bridging issue, not unless everything hinges on Frank going to the black market for better rifles. It seems like an aside. A texture issue in a limited series. Does Ennis have time to do it?

Of course he does. Because it’s Ennis and Punisher. He never lets Frank down.

CREDITS

3: The Black Rifles; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Kathleen Wisneski and Kathleen Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil 2 (November 2017)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #2

Lemire just won the Cthulhu game. For over ten years, comic book companies–usually indie ones–have been doing Cthulhu stuff. Boom!, Avatar (obviously), Archie, Dark Horse, Image. And Lemire just won it for Dark Horse with this issue of Sherlock Frankenstein.

In searching for her father, Lucy Weber meets Cthu-Lou II. He’s a sewer varient of Cthulhu’s chosen emissary on Earth and he’s not interested. He fights with his wife, who’s got a husband with an octopus head and no interest in super-villainy. They’ve got a sweet daughter, also with octupus head, but in a cute way. It’s just this sad story for Weber to encounter. There are clues too, but it’s really just this sad family.

Lemire couldn’t do it without Rubín though. Not at all. Rubín uses comic strip pacing for some of the issue, which makes the mundane hilarious and the terrifying genial. The expressive faces–it’s a talking heads issue–are wonderful.

It’s a fantastic comic. Lemire and Rubín each do great stuff here.

CREDITS

The Call of Cthu-Lou!; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Doomsday Clock 1 (January 2018)

Doomsday Clock #1

There’s one big problem with Doomsday Clock. It exists.

And a lot of it is worse than one might expect. Apparently, in 1992, after the plan at the end of Watchmen didn’t work out, the United States elected Robert Redford president. Only he isn’t a hippie dippy Robert Redford, he’s President Trump. There’s even a wall.

So, you know, if you want to read Doomsday Clock to make fun of Geoff Johns’s writing… it provides a lot of opportunity. Is it worth reading for that reason? Depends on whether or not you want a lot of fodder for mocking Geoff Johns.

Or maybe you just want to see Gary Frank “Gary Frank” a Watchmen sequel. Only one where the DC Universe gets involved. And that crossover–albeit to a different, somewhat darker DCU (I think, has DC changed Superman’s origin lately)–gets to have the Watchmen panel layout.

You think Frank and Johns weren’t going to ape Watchmen down to the panel layouts. Please. Doomsday Clock is craven and desperate.

It also seems to be implying, after Watchmen, Nite Owl feels so shitty about Rorschach dying he takes up the mask, as it were, and lives his life aping him. Or something. It’s dumb. It’s a Watchmen sequel written by Geoff Johns. Of course it’s dumb.

It’s kind of sad how dumb it gets. Especially when Johns brings in some costumed villain sidekicks for NuRorschach. They’re terrible enough maybe they were in Before Watchmen. But I’ve blocked that previous desperate attempt from DC to turn Watchmen into a brand name from my memory.

I finished Before Watchmen though. I’m not sure I really want to see what Johns and Frank have cooked up for them in After Watchmen.

I do want to know if the team refers to themselves as The Watchmen though. I really, really hope they do. If you’re going to show the world you’re an exceptionally pedestrian writer, you might as well do it on a corporate Watchmen sequel.

Is Doomsday Clock worth the read to intellectually dissect it and roast it? For five dollars? In this economy?

CREDITS

That Annihilated Place; writer, Geoff Johns; artist, Gary Frank; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Amedeo Turturro and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

Retcon 3 (November 2017)

Retcon #3

Retcon turns it around a little this issue. There’s a lot less about government conspiracy and a lot more supernatural. Also the title makes sense now. One of the characters is trying to save the world and putting a team together and every time she fails she resets time and tries again.

If you’ve seen the movie, Edge of Tomorrow, it’s pretty much exactly like that movie. Retcon doesn’t get originality points. Except in allowing Cypress to get so crazy with the art at times.

Though the art is held back a bit. Cypress doesn’t go crazy with anything. There’s one reveal with the bad guys in particular where Cypress could easily have filled a page with it but instead just gets a little panel.

And the dialogue’s not great. In fact, Nixon’s exposition is a little worse. The supernatural stuff gives Retcon a boost, but it’s still trope-y and tired.

Still. It’s more compelling than it was last issue.

CREDITS

The Weight of Time; writer, Matt Nixon; artist, Toby Cypress; letterer, Matt Krotzer; publisher, Image Comics.

Maestros 2 (November 2017)

Maestros #2

Skroce delivers with the second issue of Maestros. He’d had two storylines going in the first–flashback and present; he sticks mostly with present here, the occasional flashback for expository purposes. King Willy (is his name even mentioned in the comic or is he just Maestro?).

Anyway, King Willy is making some changes to Magicland. Kind of socialism. All at once. Even when people warn him he’s moving too fast, he points out (rightly) these people have actual magic. There’s no reason for delay.

And Skroce gives Willy a love interest. And manages a fantastic twist at the end for the cliffhanger.

Not getting the flashback split more evenly is a little bit of a lack. The comic’s a lot funnier when it’s the adventures of spoiled little wizard versus naive man-child wizard. And the mom doesn’t get to hang out much, which is strange since she had such a big part before.

But these quibbles are small ones; Maestros is holding strong.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Steve Skroce; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Fonografiks; publisher, Image Comics.

Kill the Minotaur 6 (November 2017)

Kill the Minotaur #6

Kill the Minotaur does not finish well. It finishes with a Predator “homage,” a lengthy, rushed fight sequence, and a twist at the finale.

The worst part about the issue is how long writers Pasetto and Cantamessa take. Most of the issue is just Theseus and Ariadne fighting the creature. Artist Ketner loses track of them, which is the first time in the series Ketner’s art didn’t save the day. The script’s just too erratic for art to help it.

It’s a bad finish for the series, which didn’t need anything outrageous to end well enough. Ketner had been keeping the series afloat until this point. All they needed to do was make it to the finish. And they don’t. Pasetto and Cantamessa flop big time.

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.

Berger Books Preview (November 2017)

Berger Books Free 2018 Preview

The Berger Books Preview is, frankly, concerning. Influential comic editor Karen Berger has an imprint coming out from Dark Horse next year and the Preview shows off the launch titles.

Of the four, Hungry Ghosts seems the strongest. The writing isn’t bad, which is something. There’s some bad writing before the end of the ashcan.

Incognegro, even with its excellent Warren Pleece art, has a lazy script. Mat Johnson’s dialogue is choppy exposition. Nothing to suggest it’s going to turn around either.

Then the Mata Hari preview is too slight to tell. Ariela Kristantina’s art isn’t impressive and there’s not enough of Emma Beeby’s writing to get a feel. But it definitely doesn’t look ready.

Finally there are some promotional images from The Seeds, which has David Aja art and Ann Nocenti writing. Two images. It’ll look amazing because Aja but otherwise… who knows.

The strangest thing about this Preview is how unimpressive the line appears. Even if Hungry Ghosts is good, it’s a book for Anthony Bourdain fanatics who also read indie comics and art wanks. Pleece isn’t an artist who sells comics. No one cares about Mata Hari. And David Aja art is only a big deal when there’s actual David Aja art.

It’s concerning.

CREDITS

Editor, Karen Berger; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Jetsons 1 (January 2018)

The Jetsons #1

The Jetsons is really serious. It’s about a damaged Earth about to be struck with another disaster. There’s only so much time left with your kids. Hug them.

I’m not sure why writer Jimmy Palmiotti thinks anyone is going to care–past not wanting to see the Earth blow up or whatever (I’ll admit, it’s a weird sensation)–because his revision of “The Jetsons” cast sure isn’t going to get much sympathy.

Dad George Jetson looks about sixteen. Artist Pier Brito isn’t ready for a mainstream comic. His scenery is fine. His people are not. Past George looking like a kid, his part is to be freaked out his mom euthanized herself to become the family’s robot maid.

Wife Jane is an important scientist who knows the world is going to end soon. Or might end soon. Brito can’t keep a constant set of features for her. It’s like he can’t be bothered with facial details, much less expressions.

Daughter Judy has nothing to do. Except look younger than her dad. Jane doesn’t get the youthful appearance, at least nothing like George does.

Son Elroy is at that awkward age where he doesn’t like girls yet (but they like him) and he’s just trying to impress his dad. Who looks like his little brother. And has no scenes with him.

The script’s mediocre, the dialogue’s not even mediocre (Palmiotti can’t seem to figure out how to have George talk), the art’s disappointing.

We’ve met George Jetson. No more please.

CREDITS

Meet the Jetsons; writer, Jimmy Palmiotti; artist, Pier Brito; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Diego Lopez, Brittany Holzherr, and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands 1 (January 2018)

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1

Black Lightning is back. Both in the series and as a hero. He’s returned to Cleveland to bury his father. He still narrates the book talking to his father, but whatever. Writer (and Black Lightning creator) Tony Isabella has a lot of exposition to get out. Including one-liners name-dropping other heroes. Though only two of them are big time. The others… well, whatever.

Isabella doesn’t lay out the ground situation straightforward, he tries to bake information into the scene, which sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. Artist Clayton Henry doesn’t have the right visual pacing for the script. He doesn’t do well with a lot of dialogue (and there’s often a lot of it).

Some of the series is ostensibly going to have to do with cops not liking vigilantes and especially black ones (or women, the white male cops don’t like women either). It’s nearly ambitious. Then the issue ends with Black Lightning framed for murder and on the run. Giving the cops an excuse.

There’s no character stuff for Black Lightning past the talking to dead dad.

There doesn’t seem to be much point to Cold Dead Hands, except maybe to have a Black Lightning comic out when the TV show premieres.

CREDITS

Ready To Do It All Over; writer, Tony Isabella; artist, Clayton Henry; colorist, Pete Pantazis; letterer, Josh Reed; editors, Rob Levin, Harvey Richards, and Jim Chadwick; publisher, DC Comics.

Kong on the Planet of the Apes 1 (November 2017)

Kpota1Kong on the Planet of the Apes #1

For a while, Kong on the Planet of the Apes is kind of fun. Writer Ryan Ferrier is doing a direct sequel to the original movie, but with Queen Kong on the shore just behind the Statue of Liberty. Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter are still under house arrest for helping Charlton Heston. It’s an interesting way to do the crossover–Ferrier’s doing a sequel as subplot.

Plus there are a few moments where Dr. Zaius reminds, alternately, of Robert Armstrong and, yes, Charles Grodin. Kong on the Planet might be an Apes sequel, but it also has a lot of King Kong-related feels.

Basically the remaining cast of the first movie goes on the Kong hunt expedition. Zira writes about the ocean voyage. They land at another ape settlement and get provisions and hear tales of the dreaded giant apes.

By the end of the issue, they’re at Skull Island and artist Carlos Magno is drawing a terrible Kong. Some of the mystery is gone. But hopefully next issue will have enough oddity factor to get it through. Ferrier’s script falls off once they’re underway at sea. He’s going to have to reestablish the book real quick next issue.

As for Magno’s art? Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not. He’s too concentrated on lines. His faces aren’t distinct. They’re busy but not distinct. It’s a talky comic, knowing a character from sight is important. And Dr. Zaius never looks the same from panel to panel. There’s always something a little off.

Anyway. It’s worth at least another issue. It’s going to be six issues; Ferrier makes the case for about three here. So two’s going to be important.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Alex Guimarães; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Gavin Gronenthal and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Dastardly & Muttley 3 (January 2018)

Dastardly & Muttley #3

Ennis splits this issue between Dastardly and Muttley (as Dick is starting to self-refer) and the President. Oh, and the pilots sent to get Dastardly and Muttley.

The President is suffering the repercussions not just of assaulting a political opponent on television, but also the cartoonification of reality. It appears to be cartoonifying into a Dastardly and Muttley cartoon, at least based on Dick’s transformation into Dastardly is continuing (he spontaneously grows the mustache).

The opposing pilots are conflicted (they know the leads), but might also be suffering from reality’s cartoonification. Ennis has some fun with it, Mauricet’s art is good. The book is now half over, without much hint of where Ennis is taking it (if anywhere), but it’s still amusing enough.

Hopefully that enough carries it three more issues.

CREDITS

3: I’ll Be Gone When the Morning Comes; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Mauricet; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Diego Lopez, Brittany Holzherr, and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: White Knight 2 (January 2018)

Batman: White Knight #2

Two big things happen this issue of White Knight. Sort of two steps back from Murphy. First, he gets into the Joker’s sanity and gives him a thoughtful reconciliation with Harley Quinn. It humanizes the character a lot. Maybe too much. Harley’s sympathetic. Joker’s not, because the comic is about waiting for the reveal. Joker’s really just as bad as Batman always thought he’s been. The return to the norm. How long can Murphy put it off?

Only maybe he doesn’t and he does more with White Knight. But the second thing he does is implying not. Bruce Wayne is finding out Batman’s war on crime has turned all of the rich Gothamites into real estate scumbags. Murphy explains it but it’s just more of the blah blah blah. White Knight has a lot of it, with Murphy apparently trying to do Dark Knight Rises and its “Occupy Wall Street” subplot over again.

Along, hopefully, with some of Batman & Robin. Though maybe not. But maybe. I mean, he calls Mr. Frost’s wife’s disease and Alfred’s MacGregors. That name is from Batman & Robin.

Whatever. Back to Bruce Wayne. He doesn’t like how it turns out all his rich friends are crap and racist too and he’s just never noticed it, not until the Joker took off his makeup and told Bruce (and the world) about it.

Great art. Nice twist at the end, not like the other two.

White Knight is kind of a crazy thing–it’s an event Batman book worth reading. Murphy’s story wouldn’t be worth it without his art, but also his earnestness and ambition. He’s not cynical about writing the comic, he’s thrilled to be writing it. And that enthusiasm makes it all very engaging.

At least, so long as there’s also the art.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Maggie Howell and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Fu Jitsu 2 (October 2017)

Fu Jitsu #2

Nitz dumps information here. Just piles it on the reader, page after page. Fu isn’t just heart-broken over Rachel, his ex-girlfriend, she’s an android he created who fell in love with him and then out of it. She can shape shift (basically–it’s holographic something or another). They bicker as they try to save the world.

Fu’s enemy, Wadlow, has taken over the world. President Orrin Hatch surrenders to him–and typing those words just took a few years off my life–and the rest of the world capitulates easy. No one can stand up to his doomsday weapon. He wants to find Fu, but can’t, so he gets all of Fu’s enemies to hunt him down.

There’s a big fight scene at the end, with one big surprise, which Nitz and St. Claire admirably execute without fanfare, and then it’s cliffhanger.

Fu Juitsu is still in solid shape. This issue is just a lot, even though the story didn’t really go anywhere.

CREDITS

Curse of the Atomic Katana, Part Two; writer, Jai Nitz; artist, Wesley St. Claire; colorist, Maria Santaolalla; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, Aftershock Comics.

Coyotes 1 (November 2017)

Coyotes #1

Coyotes is a little much. Caitlin Yarsky’s art is fantastic, but static. There’s no flow between panels. Great illustration and design chops, but it doesn’t move. Everything is still, which could actually work for Coyotes because it’s never still. Writer Sean Lewis yaps. If he goes a page without the poorly written narration, he makes up for it on the next page with more and more and more.

Coyotes is a concept comic. What if coyotes–people smugglers–were actual coyotes. But what if it were just a metaphor for how a young girl processes the world around her. But what if they were actual coyotes. Lewis wants so much to give the illusion of intricate mythology building, he makes the sympathetic protagonist downright annoying. Though some of the lack of sympathy comes from Yarsky’s narrative distance.

Then there’s a black and white backup going over the white guy cop’s backstory. He’s too dedicated. Wife took kid and left him. Now he’s being shipped off to a hellish border town.

Coyotes could be worse–well, Lewis’s narration probably couldn’t be much worse–but there’s just nothing to it. It’s pretty, topical, gimmicky, and translucent thin.

CREDITS

Writer, Sean Lewis; artist, Caitlin Yarsky; publisher, Image Comics.

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