Love and Rockets #16 (March 1986)

Love and Rockets #16

I finally get my Carmen issue. Only not really.

Carmen and Heraclio do get the cover, but the story ends up sticking more with him. It’s a slice of life bit, with Beto exploring their married day-to-day.

Before I forget–the giant statue head makes another appearance on the outskirts of town–it’s interesting how Beto is visually incorporating it without ever making it part of the story.

So Carmen is mad at Heraclio because he reads for pleasure and Carmen doesn’t. He had to teach her after all. Then Beto sticks with Heraclio and his work day, where he has a fetching female coworker who also reads for pleasure (and gives him a ride home). Then Heraclio defends Luba to Carmen in front of Tontazin, resulting in Carmen kicking Heraclio out. He gets drunk and ends up on Luba’s couch, with Beto going into their history.

It’s a good story and really sweet at times, but it’s still not the freaking Carmen story. Just one Carmen story. I don’t get it.

And then Jaime’s got a really serious Rena, Maggie, and Vicki story. Rena’s back to wrestling–so it’s the “newest” story in the Locas universe. Maggie is going to see her fight, Vicki’s also fighting that night. There’s a lot of history drug up by both fighters, with Maggie in the middle.

Then there’s backstory for Rena–revelatory backstory details, actually, which change her in Maggie’s estimation as well as the reader’s. Not so sure about that move. Jaime’s very confident, which is great–Izzy and Hopey appear in a cameo, so do Tontazin and Vincente from Palomar (Maggie guested in this issue’s story too–the crossovers are single panels, outside the story). It’s ambitious, it’s beautifully realized, it’s a little too much.

It’s a thirteen page story and it’s basically all just to do a reveal on Rena. It ends on the big reveal. It’s perfectly well-done, but mercenary. Jaime never lets loose. Rena and Maggie are too big to share a story in this way.

Then Beto’s got a great three and a half page “true story” wrestling strip. It’s fun and strange. Beto’s real life stories are always a little strange because they don’t fit with the Palomar tone.

And then Jaime finishes the book with a half page, eight panel strip about dinosaurs. Sitcom comic strip stuff. It’s fine. But it’s kind of unexpected. After the finished quality of both features, Los Bros end on a “fun filler” note. It’s good and it’s fine and all but then you remember that Rena story wasn’t as good as it should’ve been.

This issue–#16–might be the least interesting in the series so far. It’s still outstanding and expert, but it’s also within existing constraints. Beto and Jaime’s ambitions here are familiar ones. They accomplish them, but they’ve accomblished the same things before.

Barbarella #6 (May 2018)

Barbarella #6

It’s another good issue. Because Barbarella’s always good. It’s so good Carey can get away with spending half (but sort of most) of the issue with the evil prospector family. Mostly the evil prospector, whose dead wife is now digital and lives inside his gun.

So Carey and Yarar are doing that weird side of the story–the futuristic rustic prospecting family–while Barbarella and the scientist dude are stuck in another dimension. Their side of the story is mostly action. When it’s not action, it’s only because the book’s pausing for a big panel establishing shot. Otherwise Yarar’s always keeping it moving.

He’ll do multiple panels of the same scene, from different angles (sometimes the same angle again later), and the story just flows between them. Much like how Carey’s script is nimble enough for humor even when it’s all propelling the plot forward, Yarar’s got the right movement and detail to do the same. It’s so good. Like, the thing about Barbarella is it doesn’t need to be so good but it’s always exceptional. Superior comics creating going on here.

And an amazing cliffhanger. Can’t wait for next issue.

CREDITS

Hard Labor, Part Two: Rust Never Sleeps; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 46

Only a month since the last episode! Back on track?

Floppies – Isola, Flavor, Death or Glory, Maestro, Lazarus, Barrier, Black Hammer Age of Doom, Doctor Star, Ether The Copper Golems, Infinity 8, Highest House, Barbarella, Jimmys Bastards, Exit Stage Left Snagglepuss, Batman White Knight, Damned, Punks Not Dead, Assassinistas, Love and Rockets.

Trades – Sherlock Frankenstein, Young Frances, The Troublemakers.

you can also subscribe on iTunes

Barrier #4 (March 2017 / May 2018)

Barrier #4

They get to talk again. The aliens dump them in a different area of the ship where there are other aliens and those aliens are mean.

Barrier doesn’t refer to language barrier, does it?

The issue delves into Oscar’s back story, undoubtedly much more if you can read Spanish, but there’s still some discernible information if you don’t. His family’s in Los Angeles, so he’s going to Los Angeles. The people in his hometown make fun of him since he doesn’t speak any English.

Barrier indeed.

The Texas comes out in Liddy at just the right time–though she’s barefoot in this alien forest, I find it hard to believe the grass is all nice and soft and not tearing up her feet considering there are starfish monsters around.

It’s okay. It reads in about three minutes, which is fine when you’re a “pay what you want” e-comic and not a four dollar floppy.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian K. Vaughan; artist, Marcos Martin; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; publisher, Panel Syndicate (2016) / Image Comics (2018).

Barrier #3 (December 2016 / May 2018)

Barrier #3

The aliens speaking makes human ears bleed to the point of deafness. Blows the ear drums? So now Liddy and Oscar can’t talk to each other. They just have to communicate with body language and expression. Or Liddy just takes Oscar’s stuff because… she can?

There’s some “character development” like the revelation Liddy’s husband was (maybe) murdered. And we find out why Oscar wants his red notebook so bad. And the aliens don’t like fire. Maybe not personally, but their ship’s sprinkler system is all kinds of crazy.

So there’s no talking in the book, just visuals. There’s a little bit more of a visual tempo than last issue but nothing compared to the first. Martin’s alien ship designs aren’t very interesting. The ship’s empty. Martin does well with little details. The ship doesn’t have any.

Clearly the creators are invested–at least Martin anyway (he’s drawing a lot), it’s hard to imagine the script was longer than a couple pages unless Vaughan writes Moore style–but the result is fairly underwhelming. There have been far better “silent” comic books; it isn’t even ambitious.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian K. Vaughan; artist, Marcos Martin; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; publisher, Panel Syndicate (2016) / Image Comics (2018).

Barrier #2 (September 2016 / May 2018)

Barrier #2

So pretty much everything I liked in Barrier #1 is gone in Barrier #2. The issue opens at NORAD, with a couple officers talking in acronyms about how they’re not going to report a UFO even though they saw a UFO.

Close Encounters it ain’t.

Independence Day it ain’t even.

Vaughan thinks the acronym-heavy banter is enough to get through the scene. Can’t understand them, just like English readers can’t understand Oscar’s Spanish dialogue. The difference is Spanish is a real language and one assumes Vaughan is making up UFO acronym speak.

Then it’s back to the leads, who are now in space (or at least on an alien spaceship). They find each other, they fight, they bond, the aliens separate them. Yawn.

All of Martin’s visual pacing from the first issue is gone. There are War of the Worlds nods, Alien nods, probably other things, but it doesn’t make up for flow.

Oh, and it’s not Liddy’s daddy whose ranch she ranches, it’s her dead husband’s. Martin’s shockingly bad at drawing her face, by the way. He doesn’t have any depth to her features (most of the time). Same thing last issue but the visual pace made up for it.

No glorious visual pace here; nothing to make up for it.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian K. Vaughan; artist, Marcos Martin; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; publisher, Panel Syndicate (2016) / Image Comics (2018).

Barrier #1 (November 2015 / May 2018)

MARCOS MARTIN Cover01 col

As a visual piece, Barrier #1 is all kinds of awesome. Marcos Martin’s pacing is sublime; the comic is “widescreen”–or landscape–with Martin sometimes using the whole page, sometimes filling it with as many panels as possible, sometimes splitting a single “shot” into panels. The visual reading experience is sublime.

The script? Eh.

Barrier is from late 2015. It’s creator-owned, originally digital. So far, politically-speaking, it dates poorly. Though, frankly, some of those questionable characterizations were always going to be questionable.

The first issue is an introduction to the main characters, Liddy and Oscar. Liddy is a Texan rancher, ranching her daddy’s place no doubt because tropes, and she’s having problems with a drug gang. She thinks. It’s unclear.

Oscar is from Honduras. He’s sneaking into the States, onto Liddy’s land eventually, and his entire story is in Spanish. No translation. Its success is–like the comic–a showcase for Martin’s art.

The stuff with Liddy getting drunk and maybe hiring an ex-military type to “deal with” her problem? Not so successful.

Of course, given how the issue ends, it’s entirely possible nothing this issue is going to matter.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian K. Vaughan; artist, Marcos Martin; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; publisher, Panel Syndicate (2015) / Image Comics (2018).

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #2 (May 2018)

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #2

Black Hammer goes Vertigo. At least Lucy’s half of the comic. Not only does she go Vertigo and to Hell, she meets a former costumed hero-type who’s now in Hell as well. Lots of almost rhyming, sorry.

Wasn’t a former hero type in Hell a Swamp Thing plot point back in the day?

Lucy’s story is kind of an odyssey, but only after she gets sent to Hell, and only taking the cliffhanger into account. Otherwise, she’s just become a superhero–moments earlier–and is now on a crappy first adventure. With a lot of talking and not much of it relating to the Black Hammer story.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, it’s a Barbalien and Gail issue. They go to the library to investigate the empty books Lucy found last series. They’re in for a surprise. There’s also the moment when Gail tells Barbalien about an illicit romance… which got introduced in one of the spin-off books and really doesn’t have any emotional impact here.

It’s kind of concerning. But it’s also Ormston art and Black Hammer Prime has miles of goodwill to burn through. It doesn’t really burn any here, just implies it might.

Fingers crossed Lemire’s got some plans. Right now, it doesn’t seem like he’s got any plans.

CREDITS

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

Assassinistas #5 (April 2018)

Assassinistas #5

Beto’s a trooper on Assassinistas. He’s getting it done, but not with much visual enthusiasm. The moving figures–and there are a lot of moving figures–are all too similar and all too static.

Otherwise, of course, it’s a perfectly solid comic. Beto’s talking heads stuff is great. It’s a showdown issue (of sorts); between action beats, there’s talking heads. So it works. Talking heads isn’t just close ups, it’s also medium shots. Basically anything without too much action, Beto’s got covered.

Howard’s reliance on the word “baby”–whether it’s Octavia calling Dominic baby or Dominic calling Taylor baby–it’s a lot of “babies.” Too many. It feels like filler.

Next issue seems like it’s going to wrap up this arc (or this series) and Howard finishes the issue in a good place. Some surprises, big and small, often funny.

The villain’s plan is a little suspect (and, frankly, reminds me of Identity Crisis, which nothing should ever remind someone of) and counter to when Howard has a great line from the villain to a mansplaining Taylor.

It seems, at this point, whatever the ending Assassinistas will be fine.

CREDITS

Pack Some Heat With That Lunch!; writer, Tini Howard; artist, Gilbert Hernandez; colorists, Rob Davis and Robin Henley; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Dead Hand #2 (May 2018)

The Dead Hand #2

Mooney has some real problems with faces. They’re way, way too static. He’s usually strong with detail and body language–though the double-page spreads recounting super spy behavior (with only the “hero” wearing a mask so it really is just him being a dork) are overkill.

Not a lot happens in the issue. The sheriff deals with the hiker. The teenage girls wonder what’s going on; turns out one of their mom’s is a former spy with a history with the sheriff. And knows what’s going on in the town. And is more in charge than the sheriff.

There are a couple surprises, with the second one being what seems to be a big ol’ twist, and Higgins handles it all quite well. The comic would read better if Mooney could do the talking heads without the characters overacting, but Dead Hand still has a strong hook to keep interest.

The way the issue ends, however, gives no clue as to where the book is going, which is fine… just strange given it’s a limited. Kind of a soft boot.

CREDITS

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

Flavor #1 (May 2018)

Flavor #1

Flavor is a fantasy comic about a chef. There’s also not so much fantasy as mystique of cookery. It’s very strange, because it also operates with some loose reality to allow artist Woon Jin Clark sight gags involving the protagonist’s pet dog. He’s a good dog. Snoopy-esque, but without thought balloons.

And writer Joseph Keatinge waits to do the reveal on the dog. He and Clark pace out the revelations on how Flavor is going to tell its story, regarding the dog, regarding expectations, regarding everything.

Because it’s not just a fantasy comic with cooking instead of magic, it’s a teenager fantasy comic. Lead Xoo’s parents aren’t able to take care of her, themselves, or their restaurant right now. It turns out to be important for the issue and–presumably–the comic, but Keatinge waits to do the reveal. It’s adult stuff and Xoo isn’t an adult, even if she’s got lots of responsibilities. She’s at the mercy of the state.

The state brings Xoo’s uncle in as a temporary with option to permanent guardian and care-giver. There’s not a lot of time for the uncle Geof and Xoo to bond, the issue’s got to end, Keatinge’s got to do a final surprise as far as tone goes, plus the restaurant needs to open.

There’s a beautiful montage on the last few pages.

Flavor’s really neat. There’s a lot of effort from both creators. It’s enthusiastic. I’m hopeful for Flavor.

CREDITS

Writer, Joseph Keatinge; artist, Wook Jin Clark; colorist, Tamra Bonvillain; letterer, Ariana Maher; publisher, Image Comics.

Jimmy’s Bastards #8 (May 2018)

Jimmy's Bastards #8

There’s one more Jimmy’s Bastards after this one. It only runs nine. Thank goodness.

The series has been a littly wobbly–though sometimes a lot wobbly–and, as Ennis prepares for the finale, it’s finally stabilized. Sure, Jimmy’s still extremely upset and emotionally distressed and in his pajamas (not to mention bringing his puppy) but he’s in motion. It helps.

His partner, who somehow manages to be a perfectly good character and deserving of more page-time… well, her name still doesn’t stick in the noggin. Nancy. Nancy tries to bring the old Jimmy back while she steps up to save the day.

Unfortunately, she’s not the hero so the plot twists don’t go in her favor.

Some great art from Braun, like, you forget how good Braun’s art can be and then there’s an issue like this one. Just great action art, great movement, great expressions.

And Ennis keeps the train running. It’s always compelling, especially since there’s only one more left. I was terrified he was going to go straight into another story arc instead.

CREDITS

Go Full Villain; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

Infinity 8 #3 (May 2018)

Infinity 8 #3

It’s a fine wrap-up for the first Infinity 8 arc. It’s kind of amazing how well Zep and Trondheim plot it since, once again, it’s all action. They’ve just gotten done with action, then there’s more action, and they don’t change settings. The issue doesn’t introduce anything new, just makes Keren figure out how to save the day with limited resources.

There’s some great character stuff this issue between Keren and her “love interest” Sagoss. It’s the first time Sagoss has been likable as anything other than an annoyance. Great expressions from Bertail on the couple as well.

Lots of humor, lots of lasers, lots of hungry aliens. The hungry aliens have a bit of a twist as far as their motivation goes, which is cool, as is the idea the book gets a soft reset at the end. The next arc will be after time has reset. The ship gets do-overs.

It’s hard to believe this book is only three issues in. Even with two all-action issues, Trondheim, Zep, and Bertail created a substantial story.

Awesome comic.

CREDITS

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

Love and Rockets #15 (January 1986)

Love and Rockets #15

Fantagraphics; 1986; $2.25; 36 pgs; available collected.

It’s a dark Love and Rockets. It’s also a light issue, but then it’ll get dark. It does go from dark to light once, but not enough to not make the issue real heavy.

Jaime starts with Locas. He starts it at the beach. Can’t get much brighter than the beach, even with Hopey and Izzy crashing and ruining the fun. Jaime plays it all for humor, even as it turns into Maggie on an impromptu mechanic call. Hopey and Maggie get a whole page to talk and it’s a great sequence. Masterful pacing from Jaime.

From there, it’s Hopey to her band practice, which doesn’t go well, and Maggie off to play with boys. The issue ends with Terry confronting Hopey over her relationship with Maggie and Maggie’s latest suitor getting teased for liking her. It’s all beautifully done–with Jaime using a real comic strip pacing to the transitions–and kind of dark and despondent. Like it’s a fun installment and all, but it’s not a happy one.

Then Beto ups the ante by a gazillion in Palomar. Jesus in prison. Some giant egg-looking clay prison on an island. The whole thing seeps misery. Beto’s sympathetic to all of the prisoners, which makes the whole thing even more miserable.

(It should be noted none of the prisoners are actually villainous, so it’s easier to be sympathetic towards them).

Anyway. Jesus spends his days daydreaming about Luba. He spends his nights rolling around with the boys, but the days are spent imagining Luba jumping him. Except then Luba turns into his wife in his daydreams. And then he remembers what got him in trouble, which Beto hasn’t ever visualized firsthand before. Not from Jesus’s perspective anyway.

And he also got in more trouble after the first conviction, saving a fellow inmate from a particularly bad beating. That inmate is the sidekick in this story–the guy, Obregon, has this intensely memorable Beto face. There’s a lot of exagerrated expression in the story, but it’s when Beto’s not doing a lot of emoting his faces are best. Some great quiet expressions this issue.

Whole story hinges one actually.

It’s a serious story. With a glimmer of light at the end. It’s probably Beto’s best done-in-one Palomar story so far. Even if it’s real unpleasant.

Then comes a Rena story. Queen Rena. It’s a flashback to before she hooked up with Bernie Carbo, which Jaime even acknowledges is a plot point in the subtitles to the story. Rena is bounty hunting. She’s after a shitty, physically abusive man. Some of the story is the chase, which is funny and intense and unpleasant.

Here Jaime does all the unpleasant upfront. As the story goes on, bringing young Duke in, bringing young Bernie Carbo in, even Bull Marie (who’s never young), it gets lighter. Rena’s a hero and she’s got a traditional supporting cast, but the settings and circumstances are all different. It’s fun. It’s funny.

Jaime lightens it up. He even goes dark–to silhouette–with the finale and it turns out to be slapstick. It’s a fantastic mix, with Rena at the center. She’s a great character and kind of Jaime’s best lead so far. She can handle the “lead” much better than Maggie. At this point, anyway.

Maestros #6 (May 2018)

Maestros #6

Two big surprises this issue. Not counting the little, almost expected double-crosses. No one is particularly nice in Maestros. Except Willy, his mom, and his girlfriend. The Devil’s daughter isn’t so bad either.

It’s the end of the universe, with Willy battling it out with the magical elf for the control of not just the universe, but creation itself. Lots and lots of magical action, all beautifully realized by Skroce. It’s a shame he couldn’t do more of the battle scenes, which are awesome when they’re the wizards, but even better when they’re the hordes. Maestros has such great design on its hordes.

The surprises both come at the end. First, it turns out this issue, #6, is the penultimate issue. Skroce’s had a very successful book to this point and all he’s got to do with the finale is wrap it together for a trade. He ought to be able to do it, based on how well he paces out the action and twists in this one.

Because there’s a big cliffhanger, brought on by the other big twist.

Maestros has been one hell of a book. Skroce’s done some excellent work.

CREDITS

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

Punks Not Dead #4 (May 2018)

Punks Not Dead #4

The best part of this issue–which isn’t the best issue of the series so far, but pretty close–is the plotting. There’s a lot of humor with the federal agent ghost hunters and Sid and Fergie have a good adventure, but it all works because of the plotting. Barnett opens with a cliffhanging teaser, then goes into flashback and catches up.

There’s a lot going on–Fergie seems to have caused some kind of flash mob of seniors who can’t stop dancing, the feds are there, Fergie’s mom is sad, Sid’s not really being as helpful as he could be. Barnett and Simmonds make Punks Not Dead funny, weird, and dangerous. The danger is real. Even if it’s just the truth–Culpepper, the hilarious fed ghost hunter, has some truth and threatens to tell it.

It might change how the book reads, particularly in regards to Sid, and Barnett is real careful about how he plots out the teases. The tease has to be intriguing, dangerous, and still possibly not so terrible you can’t like Sid. You don’t want any evil from Sid.

Because Punks Not Dead is still going for fun. It’s a fun comic. Just wants some edge.

Simmonds does great the entire issue until the end, when he doesn’t seem to have enough pages to do the finale action right so he just skips it. A necessary reaction shot is missing.

It’s not a big deal. Nowhere near as big a deal as the cliffhanger, which promises new dangers for Sid and Fergie in the issues ahead. Hopefully Barnett can pull it off too, because it’s a doozy of a trope.

CREDITS

Keep the Faith; writer, David Barnett; artist, Martin Simmonds; colorist, Dee Cunniffe; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star Wars: Thrawn #4 (July 2018)

Star Wars: Thrawn #4

All of a sudden, Thrawn is about Thrawn again. The issue covers a few years, sometimes emphasizing some of Thrawn’s achievements, sometimes just hopping ahead. It’s just really nice to have Thrawn and sidekick Vanto back. They’re so fun together.

There’s also the analytical stuff, which is what makes Thrawn engaging. Not the action or intrigue–the issue even determines Thrawn’s no good for intrigue–but the plotting and the contemplation. Well, the contemplation when Thrawn gets to quiz Vanto about it.

It’s such a nice return to form, it barely matters the issue doesn’t really go anywhere, just does a bunch of summary to set up the next issue. It’d be even nicer if writer Houser had employed a similar tactic on the previous issue, which lost its leads to world build.

Good art from Ross. He’s able to mix in some silly composition choices–floating heads talking across an action panel–to reasonable success. Thrawn isn’t strict; Ross uses its fluidity to good result here.

So. Perfectly fine stuff. Especially for a licensed tie-in novel adaptation.

CREDITS

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

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #2 (May 2018)

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #2

This issue of Resident Alien, which actually has Harry getting to New York City and being overwhelmed, is somehow entirely understated. A comic about being overwhelmed keeps it calm, always. Harry brings his friend–and love interest’s father–along with him for initially moral support then protection (it’s not safe for an alien); the friend, Dan, gives Hogan a good perspective on Harry for the reader.

Plus Dan and Harry are cute together.

Meanwhile, an unwelcome guest doctor shows up to take over Harry’s practice for his vacation. Either it’s going to be a subplot for Alien in New York or it’ll be something for the next series. Hogan’s plotting for these books is so chill, it’s hard to guess.

As for Harry’s New York Mystery? Next issue might be some answers. This issue just raises more questions.

The Parkhouse New York City is, no surprise, absolutely gorgeous stuff.

Love and Rockets #14 (November 1985)

Love and Rockets #14

An American in Palomar wraps up this issue and it’s not really like the first installment at all. Beto still has some stuff from the American photographer’s perspective, but it’s much more a regular Palomar story. There’s no more supernatural implications. It just doesn’t come up again.

Instead, it’s about how Carmen, Tonantzín, and Luba deal with the reality of the American’s intentions. Carmen not because she’s involved but because she’s got to get involved. Luba and Tonantzín get the biggest scenes, though Augustín finally gets something to do besides hang around. There’s even some nice character development (for everyone except the American).

The story also implies the third person narrator is very close to Carmen. Both through the actual narration and how Beto focuses on Carmen for a reaction shot. So I’ve been feeling like she hasn’t been a part of the series enough since the jump ahead, but maybe she’s always present. Makes sense.

There’s some excellent art, with Beto exploring Palomar visually without breaking from the story. It’s a great finish, just entirely different from where Beto seemed to be taking it last issue.

Then Jaime gets the rest of the issue. First up is Locas, with Maggie and Hopey still stuck at Izzy’s, though trying to get out. Maggie kind of considers going back to a garage–just no longer interested in a prosolar future.

It’s only a five page story. Much of it involves Izzy promising Maggie a car if she can fix it. Then Maggie trying to get to Hopey’s show and her setbacks.

There’s more with the band than usual and more with Hopey interacting with her bandmates alone. They’ve had group scenes before and Hopey took Maggie around recently, but Hopey’s now got scenes to herself. Well, with other characters, but without Maggie and without a group. Jaime’s getting more comfortable giving Hopey time; Locas does just fine without the glamour and adventure of Mechanics.

Lots of blacks from Jaime (but not always silhouettes), some comic strip sensibilities, and some character development. Just what a five page story ought to do.

Then Jaime’s got a nine page Rena story. Tse Tse shows up for a bit, but most of it is a flashback telling the story of one of Rena’s wrestling friends. Duke makes a cameo and even Bernie Carbo, though Jaime’s not ready to tell that story (the one he hinted about ten issues ago). Instead, it’s about this other wrestler and Rena.

Rena’s such a strong protagonist. It’s only her second strip to herself–and the previous one was a one pager–and she’s fantastic. A lot of the time Jaime just has other characters talking about an off-page Rena; he always gets Rena caught up once she appears, recentered, once again the obvious protagonist of the story.

It’s a sad, scary, funny, tragic story. The finale sort of cliffhangs, but more just promises more Rena stories.

Love and Rockets #14 is another fine issue. Beto wins with the American in Palomar, but Jaime launching Rena in her own strip so successfully is no small potatoes. Even though the Locas is technically the least impressive story, it’s still damn great comics. It couldn’t be anything but.

The Highest House #4 (May 2018)

The Highest House #4

Gross has a double page spread this issue and it’s even more glorious than I could’ve imagined. He keeps the same small panel style, which is part of why the comic reads so well in general, but has a bigger area to flow. It makes up for the very confusing art at the end.

The issue is another full one. Not just with the existing plots, Carey goes ahead and adds another. There are visitors at Highest House and maybe they shouldn’t be trusted. Moth gets suspicious.

Before the end of the comic, after a lot of action and a lot of danger. It’s amazing Moth is still alive by the end–but in a great way. Carey is able to drum up concern as needed. A couple of the many subplots seem to get wrapped up. In both cases it’s more implied; it’s also very likely Carey’s on top of all the subplots. Because Highest House is refined. It’s grand and ambitious but the writing is just as precise as Gross’s art.

It’s an excellent comic.

CREDITS

Obsidian’s Bargain, Part 4; writer, Mike Carey; artist and letterer, Peter Gross; colorist, Fabien Alquier; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Batman: White Knight #8 (July 2018)

Batman: White Knight #8

White Knight is fine. Murphy finishes it fine. The art is great, there’s some really cool action–imagine if a Schumacher Batman movie vehicle setpiece were good–and the dialogue’s occasionally really strong.

It’s not great. The sequel setup stuff is weak and a copout as far as character work goes. There are other copouts on the character work; Barbara and Dick are accessories, so’s Gordon. There’s nothing to them.

Other than the art. And Murphy’s love of all things Batman.

After dawdling through multiple issues, Murphy runs out of time in this one. Not just the sequel setup nonsense, but also with the action sequence. Nightwing gets lost. And the action sequence develops to something Murphy could really go wild with and he doesn’t.

It’s too bad White Knight wasn’t great. The art’s great and there’s some really cool things about it, but it didn’t achieve that initial promise of a new great Batman comic. Murphy should have tempered his ambitions, as they all turned out to be empty anyway.

CREDITS

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

Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #3 (May 2018)

Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #3

I suppose this issue–where Doctor Star discovers he’s inadvertently inspired the creation of the Green Lantern Corps (different name, same exact idea)–is the best so far in the series. There’s a lot of dramatics and a lot of interstellar stuff.

The dramatics are more flashbacks with Doctor Star coming home. He argues with his wife, goes to Vietnam looking for his son, then finds his son in the hospital (presumably stateside). These scenes have a lot more dramatic fodder than the present day, where Doctor Star is trying to save his son from cancer. Why Lemire skipped out on the more dramatic stuff for the melodramatic tropes… just another of Doctor Star’s mysteries.

The space stuff is at least cool looking, thanks to Fiumara. It’s all a knock-off of Green Lantern now, but whatever, it does look good.

One more issue to go. There’s nowhere for Lemire to go at this point. But at least the book has stopped being as disappointing, though only because it’s a moot point now.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Max Fiumara; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #5 (July 2018)

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #5

It’s the penultimate issue. I forgot there were six. I was hoping for five. Especially since the comic opens with the Soviets–in the fifties–talking about how eventually America will elect a complete idiot president and then they’ll nuke us. Or something. If Russell wanted to correlate with modern day stuff, he needed to do it. Not just as a throwaway joke to distract from the endlessness of Exit Stage Left.

This issue has a big speech from Snagglepuss to Congress. Tragedy has struck and S.P. is dismantling his life so he can speak the truth. It’s not a rousing speech. I mean, if it were a rousing speech or if he gotcha’d the senators, it’d be something. But it’s nothing.

At the same time as S.P.’s testimony, his play has its opening night. The recent tragedy informs the play, the rousing speech informs the play, yada yada.

If only some of it were good.

The art didn’t bother me as much as usual. I don’t know why. I don’t think it’s better, but it might be. Maybe I’m just so thrilled it’s almost over.

CREDITS

Opening Night; writer, Mark Russell; penciller, Mike Feehan; inker, Sean Parsons and Jose Marzan Jr.; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Diego Lopez and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Love and Rockets #13 (September 1985)

lr13

There’s no resolution to the Rocky and Fumble this issue, but Locas is back. Right away, with Roy Cowboy (a comic strip character who’s had a couple appearances in non-Locas stuff from Jaime) introducing the full names of all the girls. Except Penny. For some reason no Penny.

It’s cute since Daphne, Terry, and Beatríz have been making appearances (or been being discussed) in the book since early on.

And it’s a smiling Izzy.

The story itself is about Hopey and Maggie trying to figure out where to move. Maggie’s just back from her resurrection, which no one has really talked to her about, certainly not Hopey, and things are tense. She’s got a crap new job and never wants to mechanic again.

The strip is Hopey and Maggie going from place to place, talking to people about the living situation, bickering, getting into arguments. Izzy comes in as the voice of reason at the end.

It’s a really nice postscript to Maggie’s extraordinary adventures in the previous storyline, because life just kept going for Hopey and everyone else. And although the world stopped when everyone thought Maggie was dead, Maggie wasn’t thinking about everyone thinking she was dead. She was trying to live.

It’s funny, with some great–bright–composition from Jaime. And a great comic strip finish.

Then Beto’s got Heraclio and Pepo taking a friend from out of town–but not far out of town, just not a Palomar resident–around looking at girls. It calls out most of the female characters before the visitor settles on Tonantzin. And there’s a nice bit for Heraclio and Carmen, though–again–not much for Carmen to do.

Beto’s art is so smooth. The strip just zips along.

The first two stories have a lot of walking in them. For the movement, Beto wins. Palomar is smaller scale and almost every single panel is full of its personality. And there’s a good punch line from Luba, showing off how well Beto’s constructed the plotting.

Then a sadly one page Rena story from Jaime, another epilogue to the previous Mechanics arc. It reintroduces Tse Tse, who was in the first big Mechanics story, and has some lovely art. It’s just too short. Especially since Jaime’s got these “widescreen” establishing panels cropped to fit.

Then another Jaime. A “Young Locas” three-page strip about thirteen-year-old Maggie deciding to be a mechanic even if it wasn’t girly enough.

It’s a good strip, with some great character moments for Maggie, and some nice foreshadowing. It’s also really, really dark for a second, completely against the existing mood of the piece.

Finally, another Palomar, the first part of “An American in Palomar.” Some pretentious fake hippie photojournalist wants to document poor Indian people being poor and miserable and decides on Palomar. Diana and Theo get the most to do of the existing characters, while Luba allows herself a daydream, and then there’s the giant mother goddess temple outside town, which is making its first appearance.

It’s the only two-parter (even if it’s just the first part) in the whole issue and Beto’s plotting is excellent. He’s deft in his changing perspectives (from the photographer to the townspeople) and follows a fairly strict three act structure. It’s deliberate and rather successful thanks to that effort.

So next issue is “American, Part Two” and, maybe–hopefully–the next Rocky and Fumble story. Everyone’s okay in Locas right now. Rocky and Fumble aren’t okay.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: