Doomsday Clock #2 (February 2018)

Doomsday Clock #2

Upon reading this issue of Doomsday Clock, which is regular length instead of extended like the first, I’ve decided I’m done. I don’t care about the identity of the new Rorschach. I don’t care how Rorschach gets on with Batman. Don’t care how Veidt gets on with Lex Luthor. Or why the Comedian’s back? Or did Dr. Manhattan create the DC Universe–Johns just integrates the big rumors about the series into the book. Why not. There’s nothing else to do.

The jumping off point isn’t the cliffhanger or the trip to Earth One. It’s Batman. It’s Bruce and Lucius Fox arguing over whether or not Batman is necessary. Maybe it’s in current DC continuity, I don’t know. Something about the Superman Theory, which I thought was the name of a bad comics convention bar band, but whatever. Don’t care.

Johns isn’t trying. He’s also got a gross sexist opening he can’t get away with because he’s Geoff Johns and craven and Gary Frank’s art lacks any subjectivity. It’s too objective for gross sexist bank managers. Frank’s art invites a lot of examination Johns’s writing really can’t support. Frank’s at least trying. Johns is not.

So. No more. Clock is stopped for me.

Unless the villain’s Labo at the end and Johns is daring the original creator to sue. But maybe not even then.

CREDITS

Places We Have Never Known; writer, Geoff Johns; artist, Gary Frank; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Amedeo Turturro and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

Redneck #8 (December 2017)

Redneck #8

It’s a perfectly good issue of Redneck. It reads a little fast, but it’s a perfectly good comic.

But, damn, do I not like the cliffhanger. Vampires or not, Cates finds a way to put the likable cast members–all two of them–in danger. That danger isn’t the problem. It’s the balls Cates has going in the air. There’s the hard cliffhanger, but then there’s also a soft one with one of the supporting cast. It might make a big difference, it might not. Cates just doesn’t make the plotting click with the pacing. He cliffhangs when the reader is most engaged, but never for the reader (or the comic’s benefit).

Great art this issue. Estherren gets to do a lot of movement, so there are a bunch of great panels. He doesn’t try for so much detail in his action panels, making them a lot more visceral. He goes for mood.

Redneck’s a good comic. It’s just darn annoying having to wait for the next issue.

CREDITS

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

Fu Jitsu #4 (December 2017)

Fu Jitsu #4

St. Claire’s art is feeling a little hurried this issue, but it’s still solid. And Fu Jitsu is still awesome. Nitz does this thing with quotes this issue. Every page there’s a text box with a quote. All sorts of sources, sometimes figuratively dealing with the page’s events, sometimes literally. It makes for a fantastic fight scene.

Because most of the issue is Wadlow fighting Fu Jitsu. Fu is in his kaiju-fighting giant robot. He’s got some tricks up his sleeve. Nitz has got some pop culture nods to make. Wadlow’s still got his goofy beard and atomic katana.

The quotes create the pace. Each page has to have something because it’s going to get a quote. That pace keeps the fight sequence going. It builds tension. Only Nitz keeps going with the quotes after the fight scene. He’s able to get a bunch of tension out of the soft cliffhanger build-up and it’s all because of the technical ability. There’s nothing in the story; Nitz is intentionally holding back.

And it’s fine. Fu Jitsu is like a present. Each issue is a new, welcome surprise.

CREDITS

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

The Ruff & Reddy Show #3 (February 2018)

The Ruff & Reddy Show #3

This issue Ruff and Reddy are tragic and sweet and sympathetic. Meaning Chaykin has changed it up yet again. Three issues, three starts to the comic.

Unless the different approaches are just the gag. Maybe they’re just the point of the comic. We’ll get to the end and the story never gets started; Chaykin will have introduced at least three new subplots and dismissed six by then. There’s something like a subplot development this issue but it doesn’t work. Chaykin hasn’t been working on the subplot at all, so it’s just a cheap twist.

Maybe not even cheap. Cheap’s a determination. Chaykin’s not determined on Ruff & Reddy.

Rey still does quite well with the art. He’s drawing the same things over and over again, but he does them well. Chaykin puts more time into his one-panel talk show spoofs than he does the issue itself. Sorry. Sorry. I was trying to be positive about Rey’s art.

It’s not enough to keep this book going though. Reading it feels like more effort than Chaykin put into writing it.

CREDITS

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

New Super-Man Vol. 2: Coming to America (2017)

New Super-Man Vol. 2: Coming to America

Coming to America collects six issues of New Super-Man. Three different two-parters. Coming to America is the middle one. No idea why they’d have picked it other than Eddie Murphy movie. It’s not the best of the two-parters. Might be the worst. Certainly does have the worst faces. Billy Tan pencils most of the issues, first and third arcs. Regular artist Viktor Bogdanovic does America and it’s lazy faces. No one has any personality in those issues. The expressions aren’t as bad as the lack of detail, but they’re not good. They made me–shudder–miss Tan (thinking he was Bogdanovic because I didn’t want New Super-Man to have art problems).

The middle story is also heavy on DC Rebirth continuity, which is a terribly mean thing to do. I want to avoid that nonsense like the plague. So having Lex and Superman Rebirth guest star doesn’t really do much for the comic. It’s kind of filler, just because writer Gene Luen Yang true desire seems to be introducing the New, Chinese Flash. And also because the relationship between Superman Rebirth and New Super-Man? There’s nothing special about it. It has no personality coming from either of them. Superman Rebirth is patient as Christ, New Super-Man is awestruck. Yawn.

But that brand crossover aside, everything else in Coming to America is a success for Yang. He doesn’t just build New Super-Man–Kenan–he also builds the other members of the JL China. Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman. They get this great arc together involving Bat-Man’s little sister and a nemesis. Excellent stuff. Yang seems to do better in pairs–Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman, then New Super-Man and New Flash.

The finale, which ends–quite frustratingly for a collection–on a big cliffhanger, has New Super-Man Zero returning. He’s the first attempt at a Chinese Super-Man and he’s far more powerful than Kenan. The real overarching story of this collection isn’t the Lex Luthor-funded trip to Metropolis, but Kenan’s relationship with his new mentor as he tries to unlock his superpowers. He’s got all the Superman powers, he just has a blocked qi. Once he’s able to unblock and properly channel his qi, Kenan gets some of the regular powers.

It seems like way too much of a plot device–which the artists integrate into the panels too, showing actual qi meters–but it always works out. Despite his obtuse arrogance, Kenan’s a great protagonist. His heart’s never too far away from the right place and the supporting cast ably brings him around.

Hopefully the art issues get resolved. Someone needs to tell Bogdanovic to slow down and take his time. Because, as distinct as Bogdanovic can be, the mood can be easily duplicated. Tan easily takes over the visuals on the comic. He’s more balanced than Bogdanovic, even if he’s bland. He’s consistent. Consistency is important.

Yang’s got a good pace throughout, he’s got a fantastic attention to character detail, he writes good action scenes. New Super-Man has it all.

CREDITS

Writer, Gene Luen Yang; pencillers, Billy Tan and Viktor Bogdanovic; inkers, Yanqiu Li, Haining, Jonathan Glapion, and Bogdanovic, and Tako Zhang; colorists, Yangfen Guo, Gadson, Michael Spicer, and Ying Zhan; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Paul Kaminski and Eddie Berganza; publisher, DC Comics.

X-Men: Grand Design #1 (February 2018)

X-Men: Grand Design #1

Ed Piskor is credited as “cartoonist” in X-Men: Grand Design. I’m even sure, with the Internet, you can easily find out the last time someone got credited as a cartoonist in a Marvel book. Marvel is the antithesis of cartoonist books. Yet here we are.

With an X-Men comic no less. I should just get this statement out of the way. I can’t stand X-Men comics. Never have I ever. Because there’s always something wrong with the way the story’s being told (i.e. why has the third movie got better symbolism than anything else ever did but it still is crap). So. I’m going into this book not liking X-Men.

It’s unclear if the title’s going to be ironic. Grand Design is a comic book history of X-Men, the comic book. Piskor opens the book in “safe” Marvel territory with the Watcher. He’s telling his Iron Man-looking recorder android thing he needs to relate some history. It starts back in the forties with the Human Torch and Namor, which is pretty traditional Marvel Universe history stuff. It was in Marvels, right?

But then there are these Golden Age heroes tracking down Namor, which seems a little strange for a Golden Age story. Turns out it involves Professor X’s dad. Then there’s Captain America and Logan. And young Magneto. Only that scene never happened in a comic, it happened on a cartoon episode. Piskor’s taking all these terrible retcons and making them into what they never were, a grand design.

Wokka wokka. Or maybe Grand Design is just going to be Marvel’s branding for Piskor doing a history of The Avengers and then Spider-Man. Hint hint. Because Grand Design is something else. It’s making X-Men comics–their dumb continuity, stupid aliens, Professor X bickering with young Juggernaut, Jean Grey killing some dudes, whatever–it’s making X-Men literary. Through an amazing “cartoonist.” Piskor’s able to get about a scene a page. Professor X gets more, but they’re long sequences setting him up. Because if it’s the story of the X-Men, it’s the story of Professor X.

Only not really, because, it’s history. It’s a comic history of comics. And holy shit, it’s amazing.

Piskor’s sense of visual pacing for getting information across is unreal. He’ll go from broad summary to intense close-up–because he’s got a lot to cover. There’s Professor X, Bobby Drake, Magneto, Magneto’s kids, Jean a little, Scott, Hank. And it’s the “regular” origin and then, all of a sudden, it’s got these obvious retcons. Sometimes terrible details, but Piskor just fits them in. The storytelling style, how Piskor’s exposition reads–sorry, the Watcher’s–it’s dry, but with sympathy.

It’s a beautiful comic. Wonderful. I can’t wait until the next one, and the next one, and the next one. And then the hardcover. Because even if X-Men is goofy and often terrible, it can also be good. I think? I can’t remember. It’s pop culture now. X-Men has transcended enough. It’s just pop culture.

I can’t wait to see Piskor expertly, beautifully retell some lame X-Men comics. Wolverine and Scott are going to meet. There’s going to be Dazzler. Then there’s all that Morrison stuff I never got around to reading. And whatever the hell they’ve done since.

Holy shit.

What if Piskor makes me enjoy reading a Deadpool comic.

I can’t wait.

Assassinistas #1 (December 2017)

Assassinistas #1

I don’t know what I was expecting from Assassinistas. Beto Hernandez drawing a book about a team of eighties(?) female assassins, written by Tini Howard, who I’m unfamiliar with. It’s a Black Crown book from IDW, but I still wasn’t expecting the Black Crown Pub reference in it. There’s no pomp or pretense to having a Beto female assassins (including masked swordfighting assassins) comic, which is just another feather in imprint editor Shelly Bond’s cap. It’s just this comic.

The issue is simultaneously awkward and comfortable. Howard introduces the cast in flashback, then plays catch up with two of the three Assassinistas. Only it doesn’t seem like they’re the leads of the book, at least not all of them. Instead, it’s one of their kids, who has to drop out of college to “intern” with mom. He brings along his boyfriend; about a third of the comic is just their romance comic. Howard and Beto pace it calmly–the boys are the reader’s vantage point, not the assassins. The son, in particular, gets to do this passive commmentary on the whole concept of the book. What’s the human cost, et cetera, et cetera. It’s cool.

It’s very cool.

Because there’s still all the other stuff going on, there’s still all the retired assassins stuff, there’s still Beto doing an action comic.

I was expecting Assassinistas to be a solid comic, but this first issue implies it could be a lot more.

CREDITS

Dominic Prince and the Semester Abroad, Part One of Six; writer, Tini Howard; artist, Gilbert Hernandez; colorist, Rob Davis; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil 3 (December 2017)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #3

The only thing wrong with Sherlock Frankenstein is realizing it’s almost over. I don’t know why I thought it was six issues; just being hopeful, I guess.

Lucy’s investigation continues, even after someone has attacked her in the sanctuary. Real quick–apparently Black Hammer (the character) got his powers from the New Gods? I don’t think the New Gods and their planet were in Black Hammer. Maybe I’m wrong but… it seems like a fresh reveal.

Anyway, the investigation continues and Lucy makes a couple surprise discoveries. The first leads to a lovely scene from Lemire, who really gets to leave Hammer’s sadness aside when he writes Lucy. She’s got sadness, but it’s not that hopeless sadness. It’s a hopeful sort of sadness.

And that scene leads to the big reveal and the soft cliffhanger tag announcing the final issue. Boo, final issue. Yay, Sherlock Frankenstein.

Great art from Rubín, of course, including some fantastic double-page spreads. His little Lucy intro is great too.

CREDITS

Who is the Metal Minotaur?; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Copperhead 17 (December 2017)

Copperhead #17

Copperhead hasn’t exactly been lost since Faerber took the focus off Clara and expanded the existing supporting cast, then expanded new supporting cast, but it’s been kind of… not Copperhead. It’s been missing Clara.

Clara’s back, y’all. Clara’s back.

Even with the issue mostly juxtaposed against bad dad Clay out to kill Ishmael the good android and kidnap son Zeke–and Faerber working on two subplots–it’s basically a Clara issue. Because there’s some big backstory revelation (even bigger than the last reveal Faerber did a couple issues back) and it’s from Clara’s point of view. She even narrates some of it.

There are, as always, problems with Moss’s art. His composition is pretty spot on, which helps, especially once the action gets going, but the proportions are still inconsistent, the faces are still inconsistent.

The composition helps.

Copperhead keeps on going. Faerber keeps on getting through these story arcs, which sometimes seem a little unstable, and he gets them solid by the finish. Because Clara. It’s her book, after all.

CREDITS

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

Kong on the Planet of the Apes 2 (December 2017)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #2

Ferrier continues with his weird sequel to the first Planet of the Apes movie, only with a little King Kong thrown in. And a lot of Skull Island. There’s plenty of Skull Island. And its natives and its monsters.

Magno’s design on the monsters–furry dinosaurs, killer vines, a pterodactyl–all looks a little off. Even though there’s good panel composition, Magno’s a little too busy for the action. He paces well though. He and Ferrier get a lot of story into one issue.

Even if it’s just the apes walking around the island until the natives find them, so not a long present action. But an active one.

Ferrier tries to reconcile the first film’s events with the rest of the original film series’s continuity (like why do the apes now hunt humans given John Huston told them to be friends). And he and Magno are downright gentle when it comes to Zira and Cornelius.

Kong is more than competently produced and fairly interesting (thanks to Ferrier).

If you dig Planet of the Apes licensed comics, anyway.

CREDITS

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

Kid Lobotomy 3 (December 2017)

Kid Lobotomy #3

What a book.

Kid (Lobotomy) has turned into a giant cockroach. What do you think happens to you if you start reading Kafka at twelve–you grow up to internalize it. So he’s a giant cockroach and he’s trying to hide from his sister, who wants to turn their hotel into a haunted hotel attraction.

She doesn’t get to see the ghosts, only Kid. He can’t help but come across them as they help him see the errors of his ways (at least as his desire to be a giant cockroach). Kid has people who care about him, like the shape-shifting girl and another sidekick.

The issue’s split between him, his sister, and the love interest. Things come together at the end, but without out much collision. There’s a hard cliffhanger, detached from the issue’s events but sort of related.

Who knows where it goes to go next. I’m reading Kid Lobotomy on guard; Milligan wants to shock, maybe awe, probably disgust. Fowler’s art is down for shock and awe but not so much for disgust. Who knew Kid Cockroach would be sweeter looking than Kid Lobotomy?

CREDITS

Lost in Franz, Part Three of A Lad Insane; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Tess Fowler; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Retcon 4 (December 2017)

Retcon #4

Retcon finishes with a not terrible final issue. Toby Cypress’s art is good. Nixon gets in a lot of content–too much for Cypress to keep up with at times–and it’s fine content.

The story itself is weak.

While the one guy is hovering over the Pentagon preparing to attack an intergalactic monster who has taken over the building, the mean cop is deciding whether he wants to be sacrificed to save the world. He’s got the witch and her sidekick, who probably should’ve had more to do in the book because they’re less obnoxious than the lead.

It’d have been nice if Retcon could’ve finished better. Nixon’s rushed, like he’s collapsing a longer story to four issues, but there are some decent moments and there’s awesome art. All together the series doesn’t amount to much. Except awesome art.

CREDITS

Here We Go Again. Again.; writer, Matt Nixon; artist, Toby Cypress; letterer, Matt Krotzer; publisher, Image Comics.

Maestros 3 (December 2017)

Maestros #3

Skroce moves Maestros along faster than expected. He resolves his cliffhangers, he sets up for his next plot point, he moves through it, he repeats a couple times, he sets up his new cliffhangers. It’s awesome pacing, actually. Even though Skroce’s artwork on Maestros is breathtaking–especially in this issue, where he gets to do disaster and war action–his writing is rather strong as well.

Sure, it’s villains scheming writing, but it’s good villains scheming. He plays with some familiar tropes–the evil elf guy seems like every fantasy villain for the last twenty years–while still keeping it fresh. Only some of it is because Willy the Maestro is from Earth and not Fantasyland, but a lot of it is Skroce’s design of Fantasyland and its denizens.

There are good twists, some of the characters are getting more established–Skroce hasn’t established a firm cast list yet so it’s hard to get too invested–and it looks gorgeous. Maestros is getting better with each issue.

CREDITS

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

The Damned 6 (December 2017)

The Damned #6

Not only is Eddie’s baby brother back, this story arc of The Damned has the same title as the lackluster second series–Prodigal Sons.

Except now it’s great. Because Bunn’s learned how to do his exposition. He’s learned how to pace it, he’s learned what Hurtt does best and how to enable the best possible result. Damned has this easy visual flow, even when it’s disturbing subject matter; there’s only so much danger for protagonist Eddie, but there’s always only so much sympathy for him.

Damned is often fairly bright for noir, yet Bunn’s able to keep that distance from Eddie. The reader’s only so invested in Eddie as protagonist. There are a lot of forces moving around him–demons in this issue–who control things far more than he does. Or can even imagine. Eddie’s not a narrator but his unreliability extends to the reader… it’s impossible to get too worked up about him.

That being said, it’s easy to get worked up about the poor saps Eddie brings into his life, like his palooka brother. The brother, a giant boxer longshoreman type, is played sweet and innocent. He can handle himself in a fight against demons, but he’s a nice guy. Nothing like Eddie. So part of Damned is hoping Eddie isn’t screwing over the people you like.

And knowing there’s little chance he isn’t.

It’s such a good book. And Hurtt’s art is spectacular.

CREDITS

Prodigal Sons, Chapter 1; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Chris Crank; editors, Charlie Chu and Desiree Wilson; publisher, Oni Press.

Kid Lobotomy 2 (November 2017)

Kid Lobotomy #2

Milligan opens the issue with a couple new characters who ostensibly seem to provide the reader fresh perspective into the hotel and the existing cast. And they sort of do provide that fresh perspective, but all the action of the comic is so crazy it’s not like Milligan needed forced freshness.

The resolution to last issue’s cliffhanger takes up maybe half the pages; it’s Kid’s story arc. Then Kid’s story arc becomes something else entirely.

Meanwhile, one of the new characters explores a bit, discovering how little reality Kid Lobotomy has to it. Once Milligan gets that lack established, he and artist Fowler just go wild. Some great art throughout the book, including gross stuff. Fowler can make gross stuff palatable.

Who knows what next issue will bring, but it’ll be something else. Kid Lobotomy is definitely something else.

CREDITS

Vile Bodies, Part Two of A Lad Insane; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Tess Fowler; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Aliens: Dead Orbit 4 (December 2017)

Aliens: Dead Orbit #4

Stokoe finishes up Dead Orbit with an awesome all-action issue. There’s very little in the way of story. There’s very little in the way of characters. There are characters–it’s been so long since the last issue, I only remember the lead and don’t remember how the bookends work–but there’s no characterization.

It’s about Aliens after all, and the Alien action is phenomenal. Stokoe’s pacing is wondrous. He doesn’t do all the Stokoe detail on Orbit, he’s more concentrated on movement and the threat of the aliens.

I’m going to have to read Dead Orbit in a sitting (or a trade); the experience is what Stokoe’s going for. He’s making an Aliens comic as unnerving as an Alien movie, versus making an Aliens comic expanding or exploiting the franchise.

The issue’s a short “read,” but a longer visual experience. The Stokoe art is just so good, the eyes have to linger, even when the pace is amped.

CREDITS

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

Black Crown Quarterly 1 (Fall 2017)

Black Crown Quarterly #1

The subtitle for Black Crown Quarterly should be “Shelly Bond Should Be Running Vertigo.” Only then we wouldn’t have BCQ.

There are a lot of features in the comic. Interviews, some text pieces, previews of upcoming Black Crown imprint (at IDW) titles. Some comics.

The first comic is a strange potential crossover comic by Rob Davis. It’s potential because the characters from the imprint’s books could meet there. They don’t (or I didn’t recognize them). Instead it’s Davis exploring this weird bar and its customers, all through a new barmaid’s point of view. It’s funny, kind of creepy, well-illustrated. It gets the comic off to a good start.

Then there’s a strip from writers Will Potter and Carl Puttnam and artist Philip Bond about an aged rock band; two of the members are in a retirement home, one is on a yacht, the former want to convince the latter to get the band back together. Too soon to tell much about the strip, but it’s got a fine tone and Bond’s art is nice as ever.

Amid all this original content, there are some great previews of the upcoming imprint titles.

Amid all those previews is Jamie Coe’s Bandtwits. It’s unclear if it’s called Bandtwits or Canonball Comics. It’s also unclear if it’s a BCQ strip or will have it’s own series. But it’s finely executed indie stuff.

Again, Shelly Bond should be running Vertigo. Instead, we get Black Crown, which will apparently have some excellent comics.

CREDITS

Tales from the Black Crown Pub, Part One: A Barmaid’s Tale; writer and artist, Rob Davis; colorists, Davis and Robin Henley. Cud, Side 1, Track 1: Rich and Strange; writers, William Poster and Carl Puttnam; artist, Philip Bond; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Aditya Bidikar. Canonball Comics, Bandtwist; writer and artist, Jamie Coe. Editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Kid Lobotomy 1 (October 2017)

Kid Lobotomy #1

Kid Lobotomy shows just how much editing can help when it comes to an excessive concept. Writer Peter Milligan has this expansive, weird, creepy, disturbing story yet it’s always in check. It hits all its story beats, the writing is there for the art, the art is there for the writing.

It’s so well-executed, one can look past some of the defects. For example, it’s a little slow at times. Milligan seems to be dragging things out; artist Tess Fowler compensates with focus on characters, but most of them are gross so the focus becomes problematic.

Actually, all the characters are gross to some degree. There aren’t any nice characters. Maybe the shape-shifting maid, who might be Franz Kafka’s sister. Speaking of Kafka, the protagonist sees lots of insects in his hotel. The protagonist is a mentally disturbed, wealthy young man whose father has gifted him a hotel to manage. In addition to managing, the protagonist (Kid), performs high-tech lobotomies on wanting customers.

Sometimes to good result, sometimes to bad.

Anyway, he sees the insects whenever he’s messing around with his sister, who wants to the hotel for herself.

So. Yeah. Kid Lobotomy sort of does an insect/incest word play thing. It’s icky, but well-executed.

And the comic’s got a great cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Do Not Disturb, Part One of A Lad Insane; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Tess Fowler; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella 1 (December 2017)

Barbarella #1

No doubt I’m going to regret it, but I’m excited about Barbarella. There’s whatever baggage comes with having an old white guy (Mike Carey) write a bisexual future woman and it’s definitely there. Carey doesn’t have any conversations, he just acknowledges conversations to be had. Only without ever promising they’ll be had. Again, I’m going to regret being excited about this book.

Because the rest of it is Carey doing crazy sci-fi. Not super crazy sci-fi, not like with dragons and angels and whatnot, but futuristic cyberpunk meets intergalactic travel stuff. There’s a lot of action, there’s a lot of sublime plotting, there’s a lot of great art.

Kenan Yarar implies a lot more detail than he actually draws. He’s got a rough style and a great sense of movement. It’s important because eventually Carey starts doing summary and Yarar is able to fill those montage panels with a nature momentum.

It makes for a compelling read. I’m looking forward to the next issue, which is kind of embarrassing because Barbarella is kind of a cop-out. It’s an excellently executed comic, but it’s aimed at the broadest audience Dynamite can get away with on a book with nudity and sex.

And Yarar’s rough and immediate style actually give Barbarella all its grit.

Honestly, it feels like a Dark Horse comic from the mid-nineties.

One I’m hesitantly onboard with, because I can’t believe Dynamite is intentionally doing this book this (good) way.

CREDITS

Red Hot Gospel, Part One: The Spoils of War; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Evolution 1 (November 2017)

Evolution #1

Evolution is an end of the world (as we know it) story. It’s happening all over the world, though with a predominately American bent. People are turning into monsters, but not mean monsters, just monstrosities. Because it turns out lots of people are evolving rather quickly and it’s happening all over and only one man can stop it.

Well, one man, a nun, and two twentysomething women who happen upon it.

Evolution has four writers and one artist. There’s back matter, which I haven’t read, and it might delineate who is writing what. I prefer not to know. I want to see how it all fits together. Is consistent art enough?

So far it seems like yes. In fact, so far, Evolution seems like a fine exercise in collaboration. It’s not an anthology. In fact, an anthology might have more similarities between stories–besides the overarching threat, the plotlines have little in common.

Other than Joe Infurnari’s horrific art. Horrific in a good way. It’d be in an even better way without Jordan Boyd’s colors (Image had a black and white sample version and the art’s much better without the distraction).

Anyway. Good stuff.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Dastardly & Muttley 4 (February 2018)

Dastardly & Muttley #4

Just in terms of plotting, this issue of Dastardly & Muttley is Ennis’s best. He’s got a lot going on at once–he’s got Dastardly and Muttley in a chase sequence with their former teammates, he’s got a Senate committee, he’s got general stuff going on in the world. Not too much of the last one; Ennis and Mauricet are actually rather reserved in the wacky visuals.

Except when the planet Earth grows mouse ears.

Most of the issue is talking heads, whether it’s a back and forth with the hearing or with the two planes. It’s an airplane chase. Doesn’t matter. Except when it turns into yet another fracturing of reality.

As for the content, not simply the expert plotting, it’s fine. A mild funny. Ennis really proud of some word play he does in the Senate scene.

Mauricet’s art is solid. His expressions aren’t good enough for the talking heads or corresponding emotions, but otherwise everything’s solid. Until it gets hurried. Not a particularly impressive art issue. It’s rote.

Still. Fine comic.

CREDITS

4: Highway to the Danger Zone; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Mauricet; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Diego Lopez and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: White Knight 3 (February 2018)

Batman: White Knight #3

White Knight is all right. Look, it rhymes. There’s less Batman brand reverence this issue, which is kind of too bad since Murphy does it so well (there’s a great panel with various Batmobiles), and there are some plot twists.

There’s a big one and a smaller one. The big one is too much a spoiler (though maybe not depending on where the story goes) and the latter is Dick Grayson being the second Robin. Jason Todd was the first. It’s an interesting detail, but Murphy doesn’t do anything with it. Not yet. It’s unclear if eight issues is going to be enough to get through all the stuff Murphy’s packed into the series.

Frankly, probably not. There’s just too much. Including Murphy going into the cost of Batman’s “War on Crime.”

Murphy’s still raising some interesting questions for a superhero book–especially one like Batman–and his art’s still phenomenal; White Knight is going to make it through its eight issues fairly well. It’s just (still) unclear what, if anything, Murphy’s is going to make with it.

CREDITS

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

The Gravediggers Union 2 (December 2017)

The Gravediggers Union #2

Craig splits the issue in half, between Cole and his sidekicks talking to a witch about their situation and then something with the actual situation they don’t know about. Cole’s daughter isn’t being held prisoner, she’s the goddess of the Black Temple and she’s going to bring about the end of the… something. It’s unclear what. Probably not world. Though maybe.

And she’s not an all-powerful goddess. She’s still learning how to people manage. The 1% funds the Black Temple–though the daughter, Morgan, doesn’t let it stop her from taking appropriate measure.

Cole and company are meeting a witch named Morphea in the first half. Then daughter Morgan in the second. Too many M names.

The prologue has art from Craig. Presumably some kind of pre-history magic thing. It’s fine. So far it has zero connection to the comic itself.

Cypress’s art is phenomenal. Even when you know he’s doing way more work than the panel needs, it’s such good work.

CREDITS

Writer, Wes Craig; artists, Craig and Toby Cypress; colorist, Niko Guardia; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; publisher, Image Comics.

Spy Seal 4 (November 2017)

Spy Seal #4

Spy Seal ends its first series with an all-action issue. Tommaso doesn’t take any shortcuts on the art though. It’s still very detailed, but it’s all for the action. It’s all for Malcolm doing a cross between a thirties Hitchcock spy thriller and a James Bond movie to get the mission completed.

Of course, Malcolm doesn’t exactly know what’s going on. He’s on his own, now a confident spy seal, and he does pretty well with it. It’s a fun issue once Tommaso starts doing all the finale reveals. It’s good–and proves the only characters who can talk in written dialects are anthrophormized animals–but it’s also fun.

The series is smart, it’s mellow, it’s sublime. And it’s all ages. Or pretty close.

And there’s another series due next year. The countdown begins.

CREDITS

The Corten-Steel Phoenix; writer and artist, Rich Tommasi; publisher, Image Comics.

Fu Jitsu 3 (November 2017)

Fu Jitsu #3

Nitz and St. Claire do a really fun flashback issue. Fu Jitsu when he was in a sixties spy duo, doing jobs for JFK. It’s cute. And it keeps being cute.

Fu narrates the flashback, recounting a previous meeting with evil Robert Wadlow, tallest man on earth. Fu’s kung fu powers are able to save the day, regardless of his silly cross between Robin and a newsboy costume. It’s nice to see Nitz confident enough in the Fu Jitsu concept to start exporing this early. There’s a closing bookend to bring the action to the present, because the flashback itself doesn’t lay any groundwork for it. Past Fu knowing Wadlow.

Nitz doesn’t have Fu narrate his history with Wadlow, he has him narrate his own history. It’s got broader expository goals, which means Nitz gets to do the interesting details with history. Fu was away from the planet for WWII, hence the technology improvements.

It’s cool. It’s well-thoughtout and it’s cool.

St. Claire’s art is good but the image filter they do to make the comic look retro doesn’t work. St. Claire’s panel layout isn’t early sixties. It pays quick homage, then moves on. The filter, unfortunately, remains.

CREDITS

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

Kaijumax: Season Three 5 (November 2017)

Kaijumax: Season Three #5

If it were any other comic right now, an issue like this one would seem like a major course correction. Cannon talks through most of Kaijumax’s outstanding issues–with talking heads scenes–but really well. He manages to make the prison doctor in love with Zonn work. He’s never been able to do that one. But now there’s crisis and it’s working. Maybe because it’s crisis the reader cares about.

And there’s resolution to the giant goat arc. It’s got some surprises in it, little ones, but also just great comic book pacing.

Some of the problem with Season Three has been Cannon’s fixation on the prison as a whole and that whole is where the problems come in. Is Kaijumax on Antarctica? Where else is big enough. It’s got to be crazy big.

Anyway. It’s a very solid issue. It’s just not enough to convince me Cannon’s going to have a good way to wrap it up next issue.

CREDITS

The Standoff; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editors, Charlie Chu and Desiree Wilson; publisher, Oni Press.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 42

Not just on time… early!

Vernon and I start off talking Marvel and C.B. Cebulski and Akira Yoshida. Then we talk a little about the Berger Books ashcan.

Then we get onto the actual comics and there are some good ones….

Floppies – Batman: White Knight, Doomsday Clock, Ruff and Reddy Show, Sherlock Frankenstein, Black Crown Quarterly, Kid Lobotomy, Punisher Platoon, Jimmy’s Bastards, Dastardly and Muttley, Spy Seal, Evolution, The Jetsons, Redneck, Angelic, Maestro, Kill the Minotaur, Copperhead, The Grave Diggers Union Retcon, Coyotes, Kaijumax, Divided States of America, Fu Jitsu.

Trades – Superman: American Alien, 4 Kids Walk into a Bank, The Demon by Jack Kirby

Media – Justice League, Crisis on Earth X, The Punisher

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