Assassinistas #2 (January 2018)

Assassinistas #2

The second issue of Assassinistas doesn’t have much of the Assassinistas. But there’s a lot with Dom–he’s Assassinista Octavia’s son–and his boyfriend, Taylor, bonding with Octavia as they prepare for their mission.

There’s a little with the other Assassinistas–there’s a fun flashback and then the one with kidnapped baby has some trouble with her husband.

Hernandez’s art is excellent, no surprise, and he gives the whole thing a rather nice pace. Assassinistas #2 is gradual, building to its unexpected final reveal. It’s unexpected but still a soft cliffhanger, partially because there’s no immediate danger, but also because of the pacing. There’s not a lot of urgency to Assassinistas, which makes it rather likable, even if it’s not reinventing any wheels. Yet.

CREDITS

Pregnant Pauses and Campout Makeouts!; writer, Tini Howard; artist, Gilbert Hernandez; colorist, Rob Davis; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Kid Lobotomy #4 (January 2018)

Kid Lobotomy #4

This issue is all about supporting cast member Oletta. While she’s trying to figure out what happened to Kid, she flashes back to her “origin.” Not her full origin (i.e. she’s a shapeshifter, how, why) but her beginnings at the hotel.

Milligan even introduces tween Kid, which is something to see. Though it does make Oletta hard crushing on him a little weird, as she met him when he was ten or something.

Though given the other oddities of Kid Lobotomy, that one is one of the least skeevy.

It’s a somewhat gentle issue–Milligan never goes as gross as he threatens–and Fowler’s artwork is fantastic.

Kid Lobotomy is a sturdy, sturdy book. Four issues in but still.

CREDITS

The Chambermaid’s Tale, Part Four 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.

The Ruff and Reddy Show #4 (March 2018)

The Ruff and Reddy Show #4

Ruff & Reddy has turned a corner. It’s now abjectly pointless. Chaykin has a big twist–which doesn’t come off like a big twist because artist Rey doesn’t make important panels bigger, in fact they’re usually smaller. But it’s also a really lame big twist.

Instead of doing the bickering cartoon animals shtick, Chaykin concentrates on a condemnation of the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, the cartoon animals are a terrible entry into that condemnation–and Chaykin really doesn’t have anything to say about the entertainment industry.

Or, if he does, it’s so bland, predictable, and familiar, the eyes gloss over it. In fact, mine glossed over so much I couldn’t help but notice Rey’s word balloons look funny this issue. Maybe they look funny every issue, but I haven’t noticed until now.

There are two more issues.

I don’t know if I can make it. Not because it’s too bad to read, but because it’s too bland to read.

CREDITS

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

Evolution #3 (January 2018)

Evolution #3

The story develops. The characters react to what they’ve experienced. But not much else happens in Evolution #3.

The nun discovers the Church is going to try to silence her, restrict her from trying to help. The doctor realizes the epidemic is worse than he thought. The two young women in California fight about their future, luckily detached from the worst of the horrors.

It’s character work, sure, but it’s character work separate from the characters’ functions in the comic. Are the characters going to be compelling enough to warrant their own issue, with the main plot of Evolution stagnant.

Maybe?

Infurnari’s art helps. It’s super creepy, super unpleasant. He makes even the most mundane panel dangerous.

Maybe if the doctor’s section–involving telephone messages and then a phone call with his estranged wife and lots of expository information from her–maybe if it worked a little smoother, this issue wouldn’t feel so clunky.

It’s not bad. It’s just blah. With good art.

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.

Maestros #4 (January 2018)

Maestros #4

I’m still excited about Maestros but I’m no longer worried about it. Skroce has got a handle on the book. He knows what he’s doing; four issues in, he’s established his characters. The split between present day and flashback–something he introduced and then temporarily abandoned–serves him well this issue. He’s got the mom back. The mom’s a cool character. She’s even cooler after this issue.

And the Maestro himself has an all right story to himself this issue. In the flashback, he’s background, but in the present, Skroce actually takes the time to explore the Maestro’s personal philosophy. We’ve already seen it in action–his attempts at benevolent ruling–but here Skroce shows it from the Maestro’s perspective.

Great art. Some hell imagery. Skroce does a good job with the hell imagery. And demon princesses. There are now demon princesses in Maestros.

Skroce knows where he can excel–visually–and he stays focused on those narrative possibilities. Maestros is conservative in its scope, but outstanding in that scope.

CREDITS

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

Love and Rockets #2 (Spring 1982)

Love and Rockets #2

Love and Rockets #2 has Mechanics. Mechanics is a forty-ish page story by Jaime. Maggie is in foreign Zhato on a job with Rand Race, Duke, and Gak. Gak might not even have any lines in the whole story. Most of the story–at least at the start–is text. Maggie’s letters back home to Hopey. While Hopey was her boring life waiting for the bus, she can read about Maggie fixing a rocket ship. Said rocket ship has landed next to a dinosaur.

It’s fantastical. It’s also not. Because bureaucracy. Jaime illustrates the letter, which goes all over the place. Single panels of a scene, said scene covered in the text. Sometimes seven a page. Mechanics has a deliberate, but fluid pace when Jaime’s using the letters to guide the visuals.

Then, on page five, which is “Day 12” of Maggie’s trip, Jaime goes into regular comics. For Maggie and Rand Race getting amorous. It’s sexy, it’s funny, then it’s dangerous, then it’s sweet. There’s a lot of action, with Jaime not just scaling up for the activity well, but also using the sequence to reinforce things in Maggie’s letters. It’s awesome.

It’s also where the narrative format changes. Jaime relies on regular comic storytelling. The long narration returns occasionally, usually to set up a new chapter (Mechanics has six chapters). Or Jaime will go through the letters to Hopey and check in with her and the rest of the gang for a page or two. The contrast between normal life and Maggie’s adventuring is measured and rather well-done. So far, Mechanics is a world of infinite possiblities. Rocket ships, dinosaurs, wrestling champions, and dictators too, unfortunately.

Jaime’s got a big cast for Mechanics. And he keeps introducing new characters. The new characters often end up doing more than the regular characters, even Maggie.

The time in the jungle–Zhato’s got jungles–starts wearing on everyone, leaving Maggie isolated. Rena, the former world wrestling champion turned adventurer and revolutionary, gets a flashback to herself. Maggie’s there to chronicle it.

Jaime’s presentation of the story is wondrous. Gary Groth has another column introducing the issue–I couldn’t read it, I just can’t get into the tone–and he jabbers about the story’s excellence. He’s not wrong at all. Mechanics is a masterpiece. And it’s just issue #2.

But Mechanics isn’t the only story in Love and Rockets #2. There are three more.

First up is Radio Zero, which is about a young woman named Errata Stigmata. Hopefully you’re paying attention to her name because stigmata’s going to come into play later. Not a lot, but a little. Enough you should’ve been paying attention.

Brother Mario writes, Beto draws.

Errata has this crazy bad day, with explosives, intrigue, protests, all sorts of stuff. It’s a strange story with a strange setting. It’s futuristic, it’s self-aware, it’s erratic. There’s a lot of action but Mario and Beto keep it focused on Errata, who gets thought balloons and talks to herself.

It’s good.

Also good, also by Mario–this time story and art–is Somewhere in California. It’s this bad luck coincidence story involving revolts against foreign powers, interdimensional exploration, and some dope dealing. It’s set in a cheap apartment complex with a big cast.

Mario (with Beto co-scripting) does a great job. It’s complicated but never too complicated. The climax is oddly ineffective, with the payoff panel being strangely underwhelming. But otherwise pretty good stuff. Mario juggles a lot and keeps it all controlled but never hampered.

The last story is Music for Monsters by Beto. It’s about Inez and Bang, who were in the previous issue. It’s a very short story–four pages–with the characters encountering killer snowmen. It’s funny, with some great art.

Both Radio and Somewhere were ten or more pages. So Music for Monsters has a lot less room. Turns out Beto can do rushed action just fine.

It’s a great comic. Mechanics alone would make it great no matter what came next. Just happens the backups are all strong too.

Redneck #9 (January 2018)

Redneck #9

It’s kind of a bridging issue for Redneck. The bad guy–renegade vampire–has his Bond villain moment and blabs to Bartlett. Bartlett’s tied up, but it’s not going to last. Perry’s out of commission this issue, presumably for a return next.

Oh, there’s some stuff with the bad vampire family fighting cops and whatnot, but it’s basically a bridging issue. The payoff is next issue, the cliffhanger was last issue. Everything in this issue is connective… filler.

Nice art from Estherren. A couple good moments in scenes from Cates, but, again, it’s got a circular, closed narrative.

Something about Redneck just can’t support these bridging issues. The series goes one issue too long on arcs. Cates needs structure.

CREDITS

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

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #4 (January 2018)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #4

I wasn’t particularly concerned about Sherlock Frankenstein #4 going into it. I knew Lemire would have something good cooked up.

And he does. He and Rubín don’t just do the history of Sherlock Frankenstein, they do the history of the Black Hammer universe, at least in the twentieth century. It goes from Golden to Silver to Bronze. Lemire doesn’t break out all the heroes it goes through, just gives Rubín space to show off some familiar–and not familiar–designs.

Lots of double page spreads this issue. Rubín goes crazy with it to great success. Lucy and Sherlock’s meeting pays off.

And the ending of the book, which has very little to do with Black Hammer itself, is a perfect finish to this series. Lemire’s been doing a lot with the “supervillains” of BH. The finish embraces that work (more than it does having a Lucy investigates issue).

It’ll be interesting to see what Lemire does with the next spin-off, which is Lucy-less.

CREDITS

The Undying Love of Sherlock Frankenstein; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson #1 (January 2018)

The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson #1

The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson is about a former superhero–Nick Wilson–who has lost his powers and has nothing going for him in life. He’s a pot head, which the comic says makes him a loser. He’s only got one friend, his scummy business manager. Everyone knows he used to be the world’s only superhero. Now he’s doing appearances at birthday parties as a Nick Wilson impersonator. It’s all very sad.

After the introduction, which culminates in a car accident, Nick goes out to lunch with his high school girlfriend (who he left in the lurch). They have a talking heads scene. Then some guy–presumably the son of Nick Wilson’s nemesis from superhero days–shows up to confront him.

Stephen Sadowski’s art is fine. His expressions are great. Marc Andreyko’s writing is fine. The conversations work well. It’s just real thin for a first issue. Especially of a five issue limited series.

CREDITS

Writers, Eddie Gorodetsky and Marc Andreyko; artist, Stephen Sadowski; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, A Larger World Studios; editor, Shannon Eric Denton; publisher, Image Comics.

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