Love and Rockets #6 (May 1984)

Love and Rockets #6

The first story in Love and Rockets #6–Beto’s Heartbreak Soup Theater: The Mystery Wen–brings back some more of the Palomar cast. But after the jump-ahead Beto did with the Luba story. Wen is about grown-up accordion teacher Heraclio having a bump on his head and freaking out about it. He’s now married to Carmen (who hasn’t gotten any taller).

It’s a six page story, all comedic. Beto plots it out like a series of strips. Little scenes with rising actions and resolutions, focusing on the bump plot. It’s fun. Carmen’s got some of the same traits as before, but Heraclio is pretty much a restart. But with the same history. The story starts the issue off quite well and will provide a contrast to Beto’s Luba story, which is featured on the cover.

But first it’s time for Mechanics. Jaime’s loving the art this story. There’s some noirish stuff, a lot of action, a lot of physical comedy, a lot of depth composition stuff. It’s eight pages–Maggie goes back to work, where a fetching reporter named Dot is trying to get Race for a feature article. She thinks she can make him a heartthrob. It’s mostly the physical comedy, though Hopey and Penny show up for a page. It grounds the story with Maggie, who isn’t involved with all the Dot and Race antics; she’s mostly bystander.

It’s a good setup. Some great art. The last panel–the teaser for the next installment–is both predictable and rewarding. Jaime’s established a tone for the story and promises more in the same vein.

Then it’s time for Act of Contrition, Part 2, Beto’s Luba story. The Palomar side of the story–even though it starts with townsfolk gossiping about Luba and her dance paramour, Archie–doesn’t figure in much. Most of the story is Archie’s. Beto reveals some things–he and Luba’s backstory, his hidden profession (mortician)–and gives him the big moments later on. It’s only eleven pages. Beto does a bunch in eleven pages.

The subplots from the previous installment sort of carry over but, again, it’s mostly Archie’s story. The first part’s B subplots go C here. They support Luba, it’s not Luba’s story this time. Good art. Great mood.

The last story is Jaime’s four-page “half chapter” for Mechanics. Penny is telling Maggie how she knows Race. It’s a lot of good art and funny scenes. Penny tells the story, which feels a little romance-y with the pace (and the outfits), but in a good way. Jaime handles the humor well between the flashback and the present; the tones are very different.

It’s a good issue. Of course it is. It’s Love and Rockets.

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #5 (March 2018)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #5

Kong attacks Ape City in Kong on the Planet of the Apes #5. And instead of being some fantastic homage to previous Kong stories, that giant ape attack just shows how poorly Magno is able at visualizing a giant ape attacking humanoid apes. The Kong action panels are sparing–though there are some questionable close-ups–and even then way too much. By the end of the comic, when the Skull Island priestess hopes on Kong’s shoulder to run off and plan their escape? Magno’s burned through all the goodwill. And the book had just on surviving nostalgia fumes.

Until Kong breaks out, most of the issue is the movie regulars being awful to one another. Cornelius has betrayed Zira, Zaius is playing martyr, Ursus (the ape general) is trying to take down Kong. It’s tiresome. And the furry dinosaur monsters aren’t any better.

Kong breaking out gives the story some energy, even if the art doesn’t work out, and Ferrier writes the issue into a perplexing soft cliffhanger. A callback, again, to the first movie and an unexpected plot development. The development makes me concerned how Ferrier’s going to wrap it all up in an issue.

Unless Boom! has Son of Kong on the Planet of the Apes planned or something.

CREDITS

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

Mata Hari #1 (February 2018)

Mata Hari #1

Mata Hari is pretty boring. Writer Emma Beeby fractures the narrative to drum up drama, but even with that fracturing, there’s not much drama. Some of it is artist Ariela Kristantina’s lack of scale–Mata Hari feels incredibly cramped, both the panels on the page and the characters rendered in the panels. Maybe everything was small in 1917 France.

The promotional materials for the series mention the attention to realism (the writer and artist using actual MI5 files for reference). Still, it’s an incredible yawn. It’s not scholarly enough to be snooty compelling and it’s nowhere near dramatic enough to be entertainment.

It’s a history comic without a reason for being a comic (so far). The wikipedia page is probably more interesting.

Once again, the Berger Books imprint disappoints. Once again, it disappoints with material shockingly “not ready for prime time.” Kristantina’s style is too rough, Beeby’s exposition-only dialogue (and narration) is muddled blather.

If the creators are enthralled with the mystery of Mata Hari… well, it’d have been nice if some of that energy came across on the page.

Instead, it’s a tedious snore.

CREDITS

Bare Faced; writer, Emma Beeby; artist, Ariela Kristantina; colorist, Pat Wasioni; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Rachel Roberts and Karen Berger; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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