Punks Not Dead #3 (April 2018)

Punks Not Dead #3

It’s a quick issue, which is almost a relief since it’s only #3 and Punks Not Dead feels like a lot has happened. Here there’s the aftermath of something happening and the preparation for more to happen. A quintessential bridging issue.

With some great art. Simmonds has a great sense of movement, which isn’t easy with painted comics, even digitally painted. But Simmonds has got it. Punks moves smooth from panel to panel.

And some really scary crows. The crows are looking for Fergie. They seem to be eating souls on the way. Or they’re looking for Sid. It’s not clear yet. Similarly, it’s not clear what’s around the corner for Fergie and Sid. They seem about ready to encounter the government ghostbusters.

Writer Barnett amps up the comedy this issue. Danger is up (a lot), comedy is up (a bit). I’m just as curious for what happens to the protagonists next issue as I am to see how Barnett paces it. Has Punks moved into the second act of the eventual trade (as I now assume all Black Crown are headed to the eventual trade)? Or is it just a quick issue.

Either way, good comics.

CREDITS

Wide Awake in a Dream; writer, David Barnett; artist, Martin Simmonds; colorist, Dee Cunniffe; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Love and Rockets #12 (July 1985)

Love and Rockets #12

This issue of Love and Rockets is different from the table of contents–no Mechanics, no Locas. Jaime’s doing a Rocky and Fumble and it’s in between two Palomar. And these are kind of different Palomar tales.

The first gives Tonantzin a feature. She’s been a supporting cast member since the “jump ahead,” and she might have even had a brief appearance in the first story, but now she’s front and center. Beto had made her sort of a ditz before, especially in the party issue. Not anymore. Now she’s a goddess. Kind of literally.

The story is simple, slice of life. She gets up, gets her sister, gets her assistant, goes slug hunting. The finale pulls back to give the story a narrator, who can see the characters–Tonantzin and her sister–for the goddesses they embody. It’s an awesome little strip.

And fun. It’s a fun Palomar. Will Jaime have fun with Rocky and Fumble, his fun strip?

No. He’ll do an intense, dangerous, scary action strip. Rocky and Fumble go to visit Rocky’s niece, who’s just a few years younger. The niece has outer space in her backyard. You climb the fence into outer space, go to other planets. Thanks to Rocky having Fumble, they can go into outer space. And they do. They go to another planet.

Where a crazy guy kidnaps Fumble because the guy wants to kill all robots. So Rocky has to find people to help her rescue Fumble. Very, very intense stuff.

And then there’s an emotionally devastating hard cliffhanger, which incorporates the reality of Rocky and Fumble with its fantastical elements. Serious stuff. Maybe a little too serious. Jaime apparently wasn’t satisified making everyone worry about Maggie, time to worry about Rocky and Fumble too.

Then comes Beto’s second Palomar story. It’s all about Heraclio and Luba. Now, they met in the first Palomar story and this one–in a flashback in the flashback–revises the original relationship between the two characters. It’s a comedy strip, taking all the serious stuff Beto has been looking at, and presenting it slice of life and comedy.

Kind of exactly what he should’ve done to make the party in issue ten work, but whatever. He’s on point here. However, he’s so on point it’s a somewhat less exciting success than his first story this issue. Beto’s not going new places, he’s going familiar places and figuring out how to package them to reveal new things. Heraclio and the guys on the town, for instance, was introduced in the Heraclio and the guys story a few issues ago. The guys and their current situations informs the flashback. The first layer flashback. Beto likes doing the flashback in the flashback, particularly because it lets him get his third person Palomar narration on.

The composition styles are a little different too. The first one is more ambitious with composition and the physical comedy. The second one is more traditional. At least traditional for Beto. Some gorgeous stuff too.

Jaime’s art is something else too. He’s doing action in a way he’s never done before in Rockets, with sometimes silly looking characters. Not just sci-fi looking, but silly looking. As always, he stays focused on the story as it plays through Rocky’s expressions. The strip is about her character development through these fantastic adventures, or at least fantastic looking adventures, and Jaime makes sure the reader can track her expressions.

Killer cliffhanger on it though.

So, different–Jaime going serious in a usually light strip, Beto going light in his more serious strip. So good too.

Monster (2016)

Monster

Monster is a strange comic. It’s British, was serialized weekly, running a couple years in a couple different comics magazines–Scream then Eagle–and there’s a very British comics storytelling sensibility to it. There’s also the reality of a weekly four-to-five page chapter and how doing recap–doing some really effecient recap too, using repetitive dialogue to force events into memory. It’s also about a kid who discovers his deformed “monster” of an uncle locked in the attic and has to take care of him. But it’s still a little strange on its own.

First, because it never becomes a morality tale. Second, because the twelve year-old kid goes from being a protagonist to the subject of the adults’ attention. Cops, doctors, lawyers, social workers, all talking down to the kid. Because the kid thinks his uncle shouldn’t be hunted down like a monster.

It takes a long, long time before the kid even gets one adult to agree. The writers–and especially the artist–aren’t really interested in making the uncle a comfortable presence. He’s always extremely dangerous.

Alan Moore writes the first installment. Not sure his name deserves top-billing; I get it from a marketing standpoint, but seriously… four pages? He wrote four pages on Monster. Most of the writing is John Wagner writing solo, but there’s also some with he and Alan Grant sharing duties. They take a single pseudonym, Rick Clark. Wagner continues using it alone. Wagner’s workman. He’s good workman. But the writing isn’t the draw on Monster (though, when the book seems like it’s going to be a riff on Frankenstein, maybe it could’ve been).

The draw of the book is the art. Jesus Redondo black and white horror art. It’s magical. The first strip has a different artist, Heinzl, who’s got some great gothic detail going but Redondo makes it into a gothic horror action comic. He definitely does the Frankenstein riffing, even if the writing doesn’t keep it up.

Because eventually the kid–Kenny–stops being the protagonist. And the protagonist becomes the uncle, Terry, who’s never going to stop killing people even though Kenny tells him not to kill anyone ever again and Terry promises. Terry always promises, but then Terry gets mad. And, really, it’s nearly always self defense. Or defending Kenny. There’s the occasional rage attack, but by the end of the book, Terry’s fairly in check.

Because Terry gets all the character development. He doesn’t really realize it because he’s three, but he goes from being confined to an attic for thirty-two years-old to traveling the British countryside, Scotland, Australia, whatever else. There’s definite development. There’s also the constant danger, constant threat.

The book has three text stories from a later Scream series where Terry is basically a hero. Clearly, over the run of the strip, there were some changes made to the trajectory.

Even with every fifth page effectively being a repeat of the previous page, Monster is a good read. Kenny’s not the best lead, because Wagner and Grant have zero interest in writing a kid, but Terry’s great.

And the art. The gorgeous, beautiful, haunting, horrific, glorious art.

Not quite the “Alan Moore’s Monster” I was expecting, however.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 45

Our second podcast for 2018!

Floppies – Terrifics, Doctor Star, Black Hammer, Gideon Falls, Punks not Dead, Kid Lobotomy, Assassinistas, Mister Miracle, Batman White Knight, Vampironica, Ruff and Reddy, Infinity 8, Dry County, Highest House, Vinegar Teeth, Spider King, Resident Alien, Evolution, Kong on Apes, Redneck, Dead Hand, Snagglepuss, I Hate Fairyland , Isola, War Stories, Thrawn, Damned, Lazarus, Barbarella.

Trades – Lone Sloane, X-Men Grand Design, Reefer Madness, Epic Collection Master of Kung Fu vol 1, Dave Sheridan’s Dealer McDope, Leather Nun, and Freak Bros, Aleck Sinner vol 2 The Age of Disenchantment.

you can also subscribe on iTunes

The Terrifics #3 (June 2018)

The Terrifics #3

The Terrifics #3 is completely false advertising. There’s nothing terrific in the comic at all. Certainly not the art; Joe Bennett and the three inkers have bad expressions and static figures. Not the characters. Plastic Man’s obnoxious, Mr. Terrific is a jerk, Sapphire Stagg is enabling her megalomaniac father, Simon Stagg is a megalomaniac, Metamorpho is dim; Phantom Girl is all right. The caveman is all right. Otherwise, no. And the writing isn’t terrific.

It’s kind of stunning how fast this book ran out of steam. Apparently all it had going for it was the promise of Tom Strong being integrated into the DCU. That promise isn’t worth sitting through the rest of the material.

The worst thing about the three different inkers–these aren’t terrible inkers either, at least two of the names are people who’ve worked on fine books (and I don’t recognize the third)–is there’s no visual continuity. There’s Bennett’s busy and visually uninviting composition and everyone looks a little bit different every few pages.

Terrifics has gotten to be anything but.

CREDITS

Meet the Terrifics, Part 3 of 3; writer, Jeff Lemire; penciller, Joe Bennett; inkers, Sandra Hope, Jaime Mendoza, and Art Thibert; colorist, Marcelo Maiolo; letterer, Tom Napolitano; editors, Andrew Marino and Paul Kaminski; publisher, DC Comics.

Evolution #6 (April 2018)

Evolution #6

And after its best issue, Evolution returns to its regular level. A little rushed–or, more accurately, a little abrupt–and all setup for something coming in a future issue. Delayed realization.

Once again, the art becomes the most important thing about the comic. Infurnari delivers, though it’s not a lot of interesting stuff. L.A. diners and New York hospitals are only so visually stimulating. The infected, evolved monsters are out of John Carpenter’s The Thing, which is fine–maybe they should’ve done a licensed title instead–but nothing new.

This issue has a big twist at the end involving the one doctor who knows what’s going on. He was previously the closest thing the comic had to a protagonist (unlike the other two plot lines, he gets two plots an issue–so maybe two writers too). It’s not a great twist. In fact, it’s one of those “do I still want to read this comic” twists.

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.

Redneck #12 (April 2018)

Redneck #12

Redneck #12 is a great close to a somewhat uneven arc. Cates’s plotting on Redneck has always had its issues. He tends to rush things. This issue’s a mostly action issue, starting with the cops surrounding the vampire house (in Waco, of course).

Cates starts big and focuses in. He’s got a surprise in store; well, a couple of them, but the issue hinges entirely on one of them. Its successful execution makes everything else possible, including giving Estherren some great redneck vampire action to visualize.

It’d be nice if the book were a little more consistent, issue-to-issue, but Cates always seems to have the finale right. And even if he’s reliable in that regard, it’d still be nice for the arcs to read smoother.

But, as always, arc ends and I can’t wait for the next one to begin.

CREDITS

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

Assassinistas #4 (March 2018)

Assassinistas #4

I’m back on board–fully on board–with Assassinistas. There’s character development here, instead of just the character revelations in flashback. It’s kind of cool too. Howard has the banter down in the present-day action sequences, which helps a lot too. Banter, action, character development. Does wonders.

There’s also a nice mix of serious and silly. The absurdity of the action and so on. But also the real danger–physical and psychological–helps things.

The comic does still read a little fast; the character development is a nice change though. It seems like it’s been a while (like since the first issue, really).

Beto’s art is pretty good. It seems rushed in a few too many places, but his practically stick figure bodies are growing on me. And the action works. He gets the pacing of it just right.

The story itself is either moving too fast or too slow. The series’ll probably have to wrap before it’s clear which one.

CREDITS

The Thing That Grew Inside Me!!; writer, Tini Howard; artist, Gilbert Hernandez; colorists, Rob Davis and Robin Henley; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Evolution #5 (March 2018)

Evolution #5

Evolution just passed an interesting landmark—the comic is no longer reliant on the art. First and foremost, it’s been an interesting looking book—until now. This issue has the best writing so far in the comic, on each of the separate plot lines. The characters have finally been around long enough to be compelling.

Which means I hope the comic doesn’t get too ambitious with series length. After five issues, the gaggle of writers have got the book into a great spot. They’re not going to be able to keep it there forever.

It’s a fantastically plotted issue. The development work in each plot is outstanding, the art is good, the dialogue is fine. The series is paying off. Of course, it would’ve been nice if that success weren’t so surprising to me. The writers really pull off a good issue here.

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.

The Dead Hand #1 (April 2018)

Writer Kyle Higgins likes his big concepts. The Dead Hand has a big concept, though that concept isn’t entirely clear yet. In fact, Higgins does some slight of hand to distract from things–though he forecasts the twist just before revealing it, a little too much of the hand showing. Most of the issue is some “rah rah” nonsense with an American CIA agent.

He’s a super spy, but he wears a star mask–like a bandana over his face with a star on it–presumably because he thinks it makes him cool. Or there are other costumed super spies and Higgins really needs to reveal it, because otherwise the super spy seems like a little bit of a tool.

Is the guy a tool? Maybe?

It’s not important yet. What’s important is there’s some big mystery involving a Soviet weapons project and a small mountain town pretending it’s in the United States but it’s really in Russia. Only not Soviet Russia, modern Russia.

Stephen Mooney’s art is all right. His figures get stumpy at times and he’s a little too ambitious with his angles for his depth, but it’s definitely all right.

The Starro mask is real dumb though. Like, I’m not sure it’ll ever live the Starro mask down.

CREDITS

Writer, Kyle Higgins; artist, Stephen Mooney; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; publisher, Image Comics.

The Spider King #3 (April 2018)

The Spider King #3

The first bit of the comic, when the capable princess meets up with the doofus king, is the best Spider King has ever been. There’s a rhythm to the interactions; you want to spend time with these characters. They’re distinct for a moment.

Then the princess goes on her way to assassinate the bad guy while the doofus king plans on a frontal assault or something. Doesn’t matter. It’s a bad idea, whatever it is, because he’s a doofus.

The art also feels very small this issue. Panels are smaller, D’Armini is cramped. There’s also a lot of stylistic night time action scenes and it looks very much like it’d be better in black and white. Adrian Bloch’s night time colors overwhelm the art.

Spider King #3 starts as the best issue of the series. It ends as more of the same, maybe worse. Vann can’t write evil spider king dialogue as it turns out. The Spider King is just a Bond villain, blathering on and on. And the strange design work on the infected soldiers–they’re bloated and without distinguishing features–is kind of gross but mostly kind of uninteresting.

CREDITS

Kjartandottir; writer, Josh Vann; artist, Simone D’Armini; colorist, Adrian Bloch; letterer, Nic J Shaw; editors, Chas! Pangburn and Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.</p

Love and Rockets #11 (April 1986)

Love and Rockets #11

This issue of Love and Rockets is a weird one. Beto’s single story is a Errata Stigmata, who hasn’t had her own story in ages. Mario even gets a credit on her story, his first credit in ages. But before that strange, profoundly disturbing entry, Jaime’s finale for the current Mechanics arc.

Jaime has twelve pages to wrap up Maggie and Rena being thought dead and definitely lost on the bigger than it looks island. And the Race, Dot, and Maggie triangle. And Hopey thinking Maggie’s dead. And some other things.

Instead of wrapping up the story, Jaime ignores most of it. Race and Dot have a story mostly separate from the love triangle, kind of a “pro solar mechanic and reporter in political danger zone” action-comedy. Hopey was shipped off to her mom last issue and Jaime doesn’t do anything with that subplot. He just brings Hopey home with some comedic exposition and no reaction shot to Maggie’s being alive before the finale.

Rena and Maggie do get a nice plot, but Jaime’s focus on Rena overshadows everything else. She’s the key to the story, something Jaime only started embracing in the last two issues. It does reduce Maggie’s part in their trying escape; at least she’s got that love triangle.

Not.

Jaime skips it to go for a finish without resolution. There’s some drama, but none for Maggie.

Penny actually gets more to do that Hopey and it’s just her and Costigan having what ends up a cute scene.

Jaime’s going for lackluster on the narrative payoff. It’s an intentional move. It doesn’t come off as well as the story deserves. It feels forced and contrived.

Gorgeous art though. Twice the amount of pages–Jaime is at twelve here–and he probably would’ve had enough space to plot it better.

And then Errata from Beto. Tears from Heaven: The life and times of Errata Stigmata. It’s an origin story. A completely and utterly horrifying origin story.

Before this story, Errata stories have had various settings. The first story has her in some cyberpunk totalitarist future where practically the entire speaking cast is female (and queer). And Errata seems perfectly at home. Then there’s one where Beto’s basically doing a three page comedy strip with Errata and a boyfriend. Perfectly at home there. She gets mentioned as a comic book in one of the Music with Monsters strips and she cameoed in Beto’s Palomar party last issue.

But Tears from Heaven is something else entirely. It’s this nightmarish backstory about orphaned Errata being exploited by her guardians–her aunt and uncle–once her stigmata develops. Except before the stigmata develops, there’s a lot of psychological abuse, often directly sexually related or implied. Or just hinted enough to make the stomach queasy. It’s a twelve page story, so not short, but it’s astounding how unpleasant Beto can make things.

And Errata basically doesn’t talk. She’s this tragic kid. It’s a combination of heartbreaking (while empathizing with Errata) and utterly revolting (while reading the comic). In some ways Beto frontloads the revolting, with the finale being a nice despondent heartbreaker.

It’s a lot.

Mario gets an “additional material” credit so who knows.

The last story is a three page Rocky and Fumble. They’re run away from home again, this time going out to sea on a rowboat, in search of an unexplored island.

It’s a nice strip–short–and well-illustrated. It doesn’t quite provide the emotional relief needed after Errata but it comes pretty close. Another page would’ve done it. Jaime tends to experiment with truncation in Rocky and Fumble when it comes to reveals; in Mechanics, he’s a lot more visual about it. Rocky and Fumble is more comic strip transitions. Jump cuts.

Jaime seems rushed with the three pages, both writing and art. But it’s still a charming three pages.

Vinegar Teeth #4 (April 2018)

Vinegar Teeth #4

Vinegar Teeth ends. Vinegar Teeth, the character, remains likable. Nixey’s art remains crazy and awesome and gross (but not too gross). Detective Buckle… well, he barely figures into the last issue. He’s zonked out of his mind for a while; when he does come back, he’s got to save the city from Vinegar Teeth’s dad, a Cthulhu-like interdimensional evil monster.

It’s easily the worst issue in the series. Gentry and Nixey’s script just keeps moving and moving and moving until the ending. It’s all action, with Vinegar Teeth and Buckle having to complete a task to stop the invasion. If you’ve seen a certain Tim Burton movie from the nineties, it’s not a surprise. It still works to some degree, thanks to Nixey’s art.

But, even with the lackluster finish, Vinegar Teeth is a success. It’s a gross, strange book and it never gives up on being gross or strange. It instead embraces them, as Nixey’s so capable at visualizing such things without being revolting. There’s beauty in his visual pacing.

This issue might have some of the best panels; they’re just too small and the issue’s moving too fast for them to come off.

So a success. Just not as successful as hoped.

CREDITS

Writers, Damon Gentry and Troy Nixey; artist and letterer, Nixey; colorist, Michelle Madsen; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Vinegar Teeth #3 (March 2018)

Vinegar Teeth #3

Vinegar Teeth continues being Vinegar Teeth.

So it turns out these first page courtroom bookends are set during the final (and next) issue–the D.A.’s questions for Artie even make sense now (because of this issue’s events). They sort of make sense for the comic? But not really.

Anyway. The action immediately moves on the Vinegar Teeth, working the streets alone, as all the citzens turn into Cthulhu (called something else) zombies. Vinegar Teeth finds himself unable to control his hunger and he eats some bad guys. It upsets him, so he goes and gets drunk with Artie. They bond and Artie’s back on the force, back to being Vinegar Teeth’s partner.

If Vinegar Teeth weren’t so visually disgusting and eating people, it’d almost be a nice sequence. They get wasted and puke. Touching stuff.

The rest of the comic is revelations about the zombies and Vinegar Teeth. But amid the police procedural–city’s in crisis, Artie and Vinegar Teeth are needed–and with a lot of jokes. Lots and lots of jokes. Most of them connect.

There’s some excellent art from Nixey this issue. He lets loose with the action, does some great visual pacing work.

Vinegar Teeth is a good comic; expectations are high for next issue’s finish.

CREDITS

Writers, Damon Gentry and Troy Nixey; artist and letterer, Nixey; colorist, Michelle Madsen; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Infinity 8 #2 (April 2018)

Infinity 8 #2

This issue of Infinity 8 is all action. It’s a chase. Yoko is trying to save the ship from the hungry aliens–everyone’s an alien but the hungry aliens are the ones who eat dead bodies and realize if they kill everyone, they have dead bodies to eat. Only she trusts the wrong alien.

He gets her gun and chases after her. It’s terrifying. Not just because the alien–when hungry for dead flesh–has octopus tentacles hanging out of its mouth. He’s a relentless villain, Yoko’s a sympathetic protagonist (even if she’s too mean to the not hungry dead flesh eating alien who has a crush on her–he’s just a softie).

Lots of gorgeous art from Bertail. Terrifying space aliens and relentless chase sequences and gorgeous art aren’t mutually exclusive in Infinity 8.

The whole thing moves so fast, it doesn’t even feel like anything’s missing at the end of the issue, even though there’s just been a chase sequence. And the reader is left at the cliffhanger having no idea what to expect next, which is awesome.

Infinity 8 #2 is how you do an all-action comic. Bertail, Trondheim, and Zep deliver.

CREDITS

Love and Mummies, Part Two; writers, Lewis Trondheim and Zep; artist, Dominique Bertail; publisher, Lion Forge Comics.

The Damned #9 (April 2018)

The Damned #9

After The Damned reprinted–with color–the original Damned sequel now we’re getting a Damned prequel. Literally, it’s a prequel arc to the original Damned. And the first arc in this series. It seemed like the reprint of the sequel series–Prodigal Sons–was to set up the future, but it turns out it was to set up the past.

And it’s a fine past. I mean, it’s Bunn and Hurtt doing pre-Damned Eddie. He, Morgan, Wyrm, and Sophie (I really wish I remembered more about Wyrm and Sophie) are a thirties heist gang holding up the demons. But only Eddie and Morgan know about the demons. Their mom is still alive (albeit on her deathbed).

It’s a new kind of Eddie (an old kind) and some great back story for the relationship between him and Morgan. It seems world-buildy, something Bunn has always struggled with on The Damned. At least, until he got to this series.

The Hurtt art is gorgeous (and heart-breaking). The plotting’s good. It’s not what I was expecting, but it’s a good Damned comic. The Prodigal Sons reprint had me slightly wary. Not anymore.

CREDITS

Bad Ol’ Days, Chapter 1; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Chris Crank; editors, Desiree Wilson; publisher, Oni Press.

The Highest House #3 (April 2018)

The Highest House #3

Highest House #3 really is only twenty-five pages. I had to do a confirmation count because so much happens I was having a hard time believing it was only one issue. Not a lot in terms of events, just in terms of character introductions and character development. Carey really does a lot, including giving Moth a love interest–well, a crush, anyway–in the lord’s daughter. And then he introduces the lord. And one of the princess’s maids. And some family mystic who can tell Moth’s got something going on with a dark power.

And then there’s Obsidian explaining how Moth is secretly descended from a royal line, which is why Moth can free Obsidian. There’s also a bunch about the deal with Obsidian. And with Fless, Moth’s roofing boss; there’s a lot with her. There’s not much with the creep cook, who’s still alive. For some reason I thought he was dead.

It’s a packed issue, beautifully visualized. Gross’s art moves the story along at a brisk pace without ever hurrying it. And he always makes time for some gorgeous establishing shots.

Highest House keeps getting better.

CREDITS

Obsidian’s Bargain, Part 3; writer, Mike Carey; artist and letterer, Peter Gross; colorist, Fabien Alquier; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella #5 (April 2018)

Barbarella #5

Kenan Yarar returns to Barbarella with the start of a new story arc. Barbarella has gotten her ship fixed, taken an unseen shower as the comic never gets piggish with its cheesecake, gotten almost a full night of sleep in a comfortable bed, and received a message from a ghost friend of hers.

Even though Carey goes in depth about the mineral Barbarella goes off to mine, the ghost thing is just a given. There are ghosts.

The ghost tells her to go to mine some R.U.S.T., which turns out to be a space-time mineral. A large amount has been found on some desolate planet. On the planet Barbarella encounters some redneck prospectors and a scientist sidekick. Carey’s got a lot of exposition about the R.U.S.T. for reader edification, which Barbarella’s pet can apparently “hear.” At least when it suits comic effect.

There’s a bunch of good art, a bunch of good writing, and the end of the issue comes way too fast.

Barbarella is a gem.

CREDITS

Hard Labor, Part One: After tge Gold Rush; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Lazarus #27 (April 2018)

Lazarus #27

Lazarus is back. It hasn’t been entirely gone, but the regular series has been on hiatus for a bit. And now it’s back.

And it’s not exactly Lazarus. It’s a two-part prelude to the next arc and is all about brother Jonah’s adventures with the Danes. Forever didn’t kill him; instead she saved him and threw him in the sea. There some Danish fishers find him. They’re a family of fishers under a different capital f Family than Jonah–or his allies–and they nurse him back to health. He works with them, the daughter falls in love with him, his previous life is forgotten.

Until next issue.

The art’s great. Michael Lark doing a dystopian fishing village turns out to be great. The “action”–the fishing–comes off. Along with the drama as the family tries to figure out what to do with Jonah.

Rucka’s writing is fine. It’s all character stuff. Not exactly character work–there’s little character development outside summary panels; the daughter falling for Jonah is, so far, not neccesarily a bad thing. It’ll probably be a bad thing (for her) very soon. But for now, it’s a tranquil existence. In a dystopia.

It’s a sturdy, sure-footed–and very safe–return for Lazarus

CREDITS

Fracture, Prelude: Part One; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #6 (April 2018)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #6

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #6 is one of those shocking disappointments. When I got done with the comic, I had to page back through to make sure I’d read it right. It really does just serve as a connective tissue between the first Apes movie and the second one. None of the character development matters. None of the events matter. It’s all about moving chess pieces.

I suppose Ferrier does an admirable job moving them. I mean, it’s soulless work, but he does the work. He and his editors do prime the scene for the second Apes movie. They just don’t do anything else.

Oh, wait, there’s an Empire State Building reference. Because Kong hits the Forbidden Zone and this time it’s basically all of New York City, just underground. There aren’t the budget constraints of the second movie.

It doesn’t come off well, visually. Nothing comes off well.

What a disappointing book. Though I’m upset with myself I had any hope for it.

CREDITS

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

Dry County #2 (April 2018)

Dry County #2

Dry County #2 reveals the mystery and it’s rather unexpected. At least for me. I was expecting some noir. Instead, it’s a kidnapping thriller. Only not a very thrilling one.

The protagonist, Lou, finally thinks things are going to progress with the girl he likes. She’s moved away from her abusive boyfriend, he–Lou–is making things happen at work. Everything is coming together. Then she’s kidnapped. Her roommate is assaulted. She’s just gone. There’s a note with the newspaper cut out letters. Lou starts investigating.

Couple things there aren’t. There’s not a ransom demand. There’s not a followup with the assaulted roommate. The girl’s got another roommate who just goes along with Lou’s “let’s not call the cops and instead stage a different scenario for the assaulted guy” plan. The note says no cops.

Lou’s investigation in the rest of the issue is just him canvasing the city where he thinks the girl might be. Someone keeps trying to run him over, but not seriously. Lou’s always able to get out of the way. He brings along his dumb tough guy friend for muscle, which leads to some genial amusement.

At best, Dry County is genially amusing. It’s not dangerous–it’s not realistic enough to be dangerous–and, as a protagonist, Lou is way undercooked.

Tommaso does instill some charm into the book. But probably not enough to keep it going.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Rich Tommaso; publisher, Image Comics.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 (April 2018)

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1

Not a lot of content in Age of Doom #1 but it’s sure nice to have Dean Ormston back on Black Hammer. He didn’t ever really leave but the book’s been on hiatus awhile and you don’t realize how much you miss his sad superheroes’ faces until you see them again.

No, Jeff Lemire doesn’t solve the Black Hammer riddle. Lucy Weber, new Black Hammer, solves one riddle–though it’s unclear how she solves it, whether it’s because she discovered something or just found out when she got the hammer–and finds herself in a new one. Before she has a chance to tell anyone what’s going on.

So the regular cast is basically just regrouping–though them making a concerted effort is new for them–and getting their drink on.

It’s a little fast of a read and while Ormston does do a lot of detail in his panels, he doesn’t do very big panels. But it’s very nice to have Black Hammer Prime back.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dean Ormston; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Deathbed #2 (May 2018)

Deathbed #2

Deathbed still has pacing issues. Williamson does a lot better without exposition on the girl. The first issue pretended she was the protagonist. This issue reveals she’s the sidekick. She’s a good sidekick, but just the sidekick.

And it’s not even because the lead guy–Luna (the aged but still virile adventurer–seriously, how long has it been since Tom Strong established the old man adventurer in comics); anyway, its not because the lead guy gets more to do. He obviously does, because there’s a big fight at a funeral. Artist Rossmo’s comedy chops exceed his action. The action is good. A little busy but good. The comedy is great.

The comedy art will need to be great because Deathbed isn’t just about Luna and his biographer having adventures. It’s about Luna growing as a person. Williamson writes Luna the grower better than Luna the shower. Oh, sorry, I must still be thinking about how fixated Deathbed is at showing Luna nude. It might be funny if the biographer cared but she doesn’t. Instead it’s weird. Is it a machismo thing?

Anyway. Much improved second issue.

It does still read too fast.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Riley Rossmo; colorist, Ivan Plascencia; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Amedeo Turturro; publisher, Vertigo.

Dry County #1 (March 2018)

Dry County #1

The content of Dry County #1 doesn’t really match the subtitle on the cover: “A Lou Rossi Comic – The EVERYMAN Crime Series.” Not to mention the “M” rating. Because there’s no crime in Dry County. There’s not even a whiff of it. Lead Lou Rossi lives in Little Havana, Miami, but it’s basically empty when he’s outside. Lonely guy living lonely existence.

Lou is a comic strip cartoonist at the paper. Between going to work and doing his daily, three-panel gag strip, he gets drunk. Then he meets a girl. Only she’s got problems with her boyfriend. It’s not noir, but it’s noir. Rich Tommaso’s art is extremely mellow. It’s hard to get agitated, even when Lou chases the girl’s abusive boyfriend away.

Tommaso writes it first-person, with Lou’s journal entries in between panels. The entries are on lined paper with neat handwriting; again, not very noirish. It’s too bright and vivid. Not cheerful, but precious.

As mundane slice of life–vividly rendered–Dry County #1 is all right. As the prelude to EVERYMAN crime… well, it’s slow. Especially since the characters are so thin, even the protagonist. Tommaso writes them for occasional gag humor too. It’s hard to imagine it getting bloody.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Rich Tommaso; publisher, Image Comics.

I Hate Fairyland #17 (March 2018)

I Hate Fairyland #17

Well, Young certainly doesn’t go any predictable route. He’s into new territory in Fairyland now, seventeen issues in, and–frankly–the book has lost its charm. There’s still charm to the art, but the writing has lost its charm. It’s lost Gert, for one thing. She’s MIA this issue (for the first time ever) and not even the bug gets a follow-up from last issue.

Instead, it’s Duncan the Dragon’s issue. I can’t remember what’s going on with that kid–he was another kid trapped in Fairyland who maybe fought with Gertie, maybe didn’t–but a refresher would’ve been nice.

Instead, Young just powers through. It certainly seems like he’s wrapping up Fairyland. I’m just not sure I care enough anymore to stick it out until the end. The book has no momentum outside the trouble Gert generates, here and there. Take that aspect away and… it’s just… nothing special.

Not even the art is fun (without Gert).

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Skottie Young; colorist, Jean-Francois Bealieu; letterer, Nate Piekos; editor, Kent Wagenschutz; publisher, Image Comics.

Gideon Falls #2 (April 2018)

Gideon Falls #2

Gideon Falls #2 does not have a good pace. It also doesn’t have very good dialogue. Or interesting scenes. Or engaging characters. I was halfway through the issue before I fully remembered what was going on last time and why I thought the book had potential. It burns all of it off this issue. All of it.

Probably before the halfway point.

Sorrentino’s art also gets a little trying here. Especially with the expressionist angles for the character who’s not delusional but really knows what’s going on with the black barn, whether his therapist believes him or not. The lines–it’s hard to explain, but there are thin white lines (vertical white lines) over all the art. It’s a Photoshop filter or something, but it also brings nothing to it. However, compared to when Sorrentino does composition stuff with the panels… well, give me the little white lines.

Generic dialogue, bad plotting, big yawn. It’s too bad since the book had some promise after the first issue.

CREDITS

All the Sinners Say Hallelujah!; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Andrea Sorrentino; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Will Dennis; publisher, Image Comics.

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1 (April 2018)

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1

Resident Alien, not to get too extreme about it, is good for the soul. Writer Peter Hogan’s quiet, careful deliberateness with all the characters–and all the character development–alongside Steve Parkhouse’s gentle, emotive, detailed art? It’s just such a nice comic to read. Before everything else, there’s this professional love of the medium the two creators exercise throughout. It’s a joyful read, regardless of content; always has been.

And An Alien in New York is no different. Doctor Harry has his standard B plot–he’s worried the Men in Black are going to discover him (they sort of have, but he doesn’t know yet)–and now he’s worried he should abandon his established life as a town doctor. There’s some romantic drama (but very gentle) as he and female friend, Asta, carefully orbit each other.

So while he’s thinking about doing a runner from his regular life to instead be an alien on the run, he comes across evidence of an alien in the New York area.

And then the issue’s over. It’s a teaser for the series itself (I’m so glad Dark Horse gave them four issues again for New York). It’d be the perfect time for Hogan to catch up new readers… but no.

One thing about Resident Alien, which is both good and bad–good as a fan, bad as a fan who wants the book to get more readers–is Hogan never bothers with catch-up. This time Harry’s whole crisis gets kicked off because he finds out about the picture of him a child drew–kids can see he’s an alien–and his staff wants to hang it up. The picture’s from last series. The Feds are on to him from last series.

I appreciate the hell out of the book as Hogan and Parkhouse execute it, but I want it to catch on too. Hogan’s not just writing for the trade, he’s writing for the trades as a series.

Who cares. Harry’s back. I’ll worry about it later. Next issue is New York. Steve Parkhouse New York.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Megan Walker and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Love and Rockets #10 (January 1985)

Love and Rockets #10

Love and Rockets #10 is a celebration. There are some original character design sketches and even a portfolio section with the pre-published work from Los Bros. Jaime opens the issue with a fourth wall breaking Locas one-pager, Beto closes the issue with a fourth wall breaking one-pager. Jaime’s ends up being more about Hopey and Maggie (who are still in the middle of a very dramatic Mechanics) while Beto’s is all about his artistic creations hounding him.

Each brother has a feature. Jaime the aforementioned Mechanics installment. Everyone still thinks Maggie and Rena are dead, leading to some beautiful mourning panels from Jaime. He gets to use all that black. And since some the issue is in darkness (the tunnels where Maggie and Rena are traveling, Hopey shut off from the world), it’s much more than silhouette.

Maggie and Rena’s plot takes them to a native village–giving Jaime his first major cheesecake in a while–while Race gets close to Dot Winks again. It’s hard to hate Dot anymore. Though I can see why Penny is done with Race; even when he means well, he’s sort of a doof.

And Hopey gets to muscle through some of her mourning. She even gets rid of the blonde dye job.

Then there are thirteen pages of sketches. Some awesome stuff. Makes you wonder what Music for Monsters could’ve been.

And then Palomar. Beto throws a party. It’s a literal party. The residents of Palomar are having a cookout. Everyone’s there, including Beto’s other (human) Love and Rockets creations as well as all of Jaime’s principals. And Frida.

Beto has a wandering narrative, starting by following Heraclio around the party, then passing the baton to Luba for a while, then Pipo (returning for the first time since issue three–all grown up and beyond glamorous)–then to Tonantzin, then he wanders between them all. We find out Pipo’s not just glamourous, she’s being physically abused by her husband (that dipshit Gato, also not seen since issue three). The nasty old sheriff is back (though Chelo appears to have forgotten her previous, clandestine sexual relationship with him).

On one hand, it’s great catchup with the cast. On the other, it’s Beto dealing with some serious things–particularly Pipo, but also the would-be rapist ex-sheriff–in a cartoonish manner. It’s beautifully executed, in terms of art and pacing. Beto excels at juggling all the characters and plot threads, it’s just a tad too functional.

It’s a fine tenth issue though; Los Bros have accomplished a lot. A breather is all right; fine for Love and Rockets, after all, is still excellent comics. It’s also a little jarring to see the cast in color (on the front and back covers). Well, everyone except Izzy. Jarring in a good way.

Star Wars: Thrawn #3 (June 2018)

Star Wars: Thrawn #3

Thrawn really isn’t important this issue of Thrawn. Instead, it tracks the adventures of a young woman from the Outer Sim who ends up on the Imperial homeworld and discovers corruption and manipulation in politics. But she sees an opportunity for advancement, and calls on Thrawn to help her.

For a while, it’s a decent issue. It seems like Houser is building to something. He might be–the issue has a hard cliffhanger–but he’s immediately overdue on it. An indulgence issue. Maybe it’s to the eventual trade paces out well. But in floppy? It’s a little much.

Especially since it’s so confusing. There’s so much dialogue, so much exposition. But then an event will occur and it won’t seem like anything previous discussed. And you reread the previous discussions and it certainly doesn’t seem like they’re talking about planning the immediately occurring events. The issue’s lead–the new woman–keeps a lot to herself.

The book is getting to be a bummer. But Ross’s art is awesome this issue.

CREDITS

Writers, Timothy Zahn and Jody Houser; artist, Luke Ross; colorist, Nolan Woodard; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Heather Antos; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Spider King #2 (March 2018)

The Spider King #2

Yep, I’ll bet Spider King reads better in one sitting.

This issue has the goofy ball underdog king getting his hands on an alien arsenal. There’s an alien around, but he’s not mean. He’s cute, in fact, and utterly unimpressed with the Vikings’ intelligence.

There’s a little with the evil uncle melding with the evil alien. Some real cool art from D’Armini on those pages. The comic slows down for a second and demands your attention to its detail. Then it speeds back up, with the Viking princess finding an arsenal of her own and a kid for a sidekick.

They get arrows whereas King Goofball gets swords and other types of weapons. Ones he and his clan members can’t really figure out how to use. Not good since there are now bad aliens hunting them. These bad aliens look different from the cute alien and the evil alien, who are at least both blue and somewhat similar.

Good art, okay script, way too fast of a pace.

:

CREDITS

The Treasures of Valhalla; writer, Josh Vann; artist, Simone D’Armini; colorist, Adrian Bloch; letterer, Nic J Shaw; editors, Chas! Pangburn and Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.</p

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: