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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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

I Hate Fairyland #16 (February 2018)

I Hate Fairyland #16

Uh. So Young opens the issue with Gert talking about how the previous issue’s cliffhanger for Fairyland was manipulative and cheap.

Which is fine. Kind of funny.

But then this entire issue is manipulative and cheap as it undoes that cliffhanger.

The issue’s a dream sequence (basically), not just without anything to move the story forward, but without anything to give Gert good fodder. She gets chased, she gets upset, she gets mean, but there’s no real oomph to the new situation.

And the setting isn’t conducive to Young’s art style. Maybe if it were half the issue (or a third), but an entire issue of boring visualizations. Sure, there’s a little bit of Fairyland, but it’s that happy-go-lucky Fairyland, not the regular bloodbath Gert makes it.

As a series, Young’s worked out how to best play to his (and Fairyland’s) strengths. But now it’s like he’s floundering. And issue #16 isn’t a place to be floundering.

CREDITS

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

Deathbed #1 (April 2018)

Deathbed #1

I’ve been reading indie books so long I forgot what Vertigo pacing feels like. Besides the pacing, Deathbed actually doesn’t feel too much like a “Vertigo book.” Sure, the witty, buxom female protagonist feels like a Vertigo book–oh, no, am I going to regret saying it didn’t feel like a Vertigo book–but the subject of the book doesn’t feel like a Vertigo “hero.”

Deathbed is about a failing writer who agrees to ghostwrite the autobiography of some guy she’s never heard of. But he’s rich. And it turns out he’s a monster hunter. It’s never clear whether or not the protagonist–Val–is aware there are monsters. It’s a problem, but writer Joshua Williamson skips over it. He’s got the issue to finish.

It’s going to be six issues, which is probably fine. Nothing much happens here–not in terms of establishing the protagonist (though it’s entirely possible she’s not going to get any more character than she’s got at the end of issue one)–except there’s eventually mummies attacking a naked old (but astoundingly fit) guy and him killing them all.

It’s not a spoiler. It’s kind of the point of the book. He’s on his final quest–rid the world of bad guys until one of them kills him. Val, ghostwriter, will be there to watch.

Riley Rossmo’s art is all right, but the book’s so rushed there’s not a lot of time to appreciate it. There’s a strange reliance on double page spreads, which just hurry things along even more.

Deathbed needs to slow down.

CREDITS

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

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