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.

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

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #5

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

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

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

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

CREDITS

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

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #4 (February 2018)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #4

Maybe a quarter of the way into Kong on the Planet of the Apes #4–really makes me hope there’s a Son of Kong Beneath the Planet of the Apes sequel–but about a quarter in, I couldn’t help but wonder why I’m reading such a depressing comic. It’s not like there’s a happy ending for a Planet of the Apes story or a King Kong story. This issue doesn’t just have a captured Kong crying–dashing hopes of him stomping Ape City–it’s got the gorillas kidnapping one of the Skull Island natives and then a big twist for fans of the original movies. Especially the first three movies.

Of course, not all in the first quarter. The first quarter just has kidnapped native and crying Kong.

But I kept reading. Because even though reading some depressing sociological look at a fictive future society seems not just pointless but downright unpleasant… Ferrier writes sociological looks at fictive future societies quite well. He covers a lot. Religion. Hucksterism. Science. Military. The intersections of the four. It’s a smart script. It just happens to be for a mostly disposable licensed franchise crossover.

The last quarter of the issue is far more action-packed, with Ferrier and Magno pacing it beautifully.

I knew I read this comic for better reasons than I’m a sucker for Kong.

CREDITS

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

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #3 (January 2018)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #3

I was wondering how long I could sustain interest in Kong on the Planet of the Apes and I think that answer is three issues. Kong #3 is fine–Magno’s art is less detailed, which sometimes works better than when he’s extremely detailed. Detailed meaning lines. Lots and lots of lines.

The humans are good, the Kong action is good. The Apes? Not so much. I mean, it’s fine, but boring. Ferrier doesn’t have anything for the good apes to do this issue. It’s all the bad apes planning to attack and kidnap Kong.

Why?

Because it’s what happens in Kong stories.

Unfortunately, Ferrier forces his way through it all. The scientists keep talking about making important discoveries but they aren’t discovering anything, just talking about it. The gorilla general’s story is ominous and unlikable. It’s unpleasant. The bad apes are planning to kill all the Skull Island humans, it’s just waiting for them to do it.

There’s no humor in this issue either. No witty observations about either franchise. There is some stuff from the BOOM! Kong license, which isn’t the movies and centers around the Skull Island tribal culture.

Frankly, yawn.

But those scenes are the ones with better Magno lines.

Anyway. I say I’m done but I’ll probably be back for one more. I just remembered Ferrier’s doing a direct sequel to the first movie and maybe there are some loose ends to tie up from it. Maybe Charlton Heston comes back. Maybe Kong carries Charlton Heston to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

Probably not. But maybe.

CREDITS

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

Kong on the Planet of the Apes 2 (December 2017)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #2

Ferrier continues with his weird sequel to the first Planet of the Apes movie, only with a little King Kong thrown in. And a lot of Skull Island. There’s plenty of Skull Island. And its natives and its monsters.

Magno’s design on the monsters–furry dinosaurs, killer vines, a pterodactyl–all looks a little off. Even though there’s good panel composition, Magno’s a little too busy for the action. He paces well though. He and Ferrier get a lot of story into one issue.

Even if it’s just the apes walking around the island until the natives find them, so not a long present action. But an active one.

Ferrier tries to reconcile the first film’s events with the rest of the original film series’s continuity (like why do the apes now hunt humans given John Huston told them to be friends). And he and Magno are downright gentle when it comes to Zira and Cornelius.

Kong is more than competently produced and fairly interesting (thanks to Ferrier).

If you dig Planet of the Apes licensed comics, anyway.

CREDITS

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

Kong on the Planet of the Apes 1 (November 2017)

Kpota1Kong on the Planet of the Apes #1

For a while, Kong on the Planet of the Apes is kind of fun. Writer Ryan Ferrier is doing a direct sequel to the original movie, but with Queen Kong on the shore just behind the Statue of Liberty. Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter are still under house arrest for helping Charlton Heston. It’s an interesting way to do the crossover–Ferrier’s doing a sequel as subplot.

Plus there are a few moments where Dr. Zaius reminds, alternately, of Robert Armstrong and, yes, Charles Grodin. Kong on the Planet might be an Apes sequel, but it also has a lot of King Kong-related feels.

Basically the remaining cast of the first movie goes on the Kong hunt expedition. Zira writes about the ocean voyage. They land at another ape settlement and get provisions and hear tales of the dreaded giant apes.

By the end of the issue, they’re at Skull Island and artist Carlos Magno is drawing a terrible Kong. Some of the mystery is gone. But hopefully next issue will have enough oddity factor to get it through. Ferrier’s script falls off once they’re underway at sea. He’s going to have to reestablish the book real quick next issue.

As for Magno’s art? Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not. He’s too concentrated on lines. His faces aren’t distinct. They’re busy but not distinct. It’s a talky comic, knowing a character from sight is important. And Dr. Zaius never looks the same from panel to panel. There’s always something a little off.

Anyway. It’s worth at least another issue. It’s going to be six issues; Ferrier makes the case for about three here. So two’s going to be important.

CREDITS

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

Godshaper 6 (September 2017)

Godshaper #6

Godshaper comes to its finish. There’s some good art from Goonface, but he literally doesn’t have room again. The concert hall is too small for the giant gods and the pages are too small for all Ennay is supposed to be doing. But there’s some good art and some nice feels to the issue.

Those nice feels, courtesy Spurrier’s shiny happy ending, are in the place of any actual finish to the comic. Spurrier spins things up and drops them in new places. He leverages a lot on the likability of the cast–a whole lot, more as the comic goes on–without doing anything for them. It just wraps up.

Godshaper peaked early, so it didn’t exactly waste potential, but it’s a shame it didn’t work out. Spurrier probably should’ve decided on the narrative tone before the last issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jonas Goonface; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Godshaper 5 (August 2017)

Godshaper #5

Well. Spurrier sure does get literal in his metaphors this issue. Like, way too literal for Godshaper to have any magic. There are a handful of other reasons why it doesn’t have any magic this issue, like the cheap terrorizing of a little kid and the passive Ennay. He’s not much of a protagonist anymore. Spurrier’s got some ideas, Goonface has some art, but Spurrier hasn’t got the script to keep Godshaper together. I’m invested enough to read the finale, but I’ve got no hopes for it (past anticipating a strong competence).

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jonas Goonface; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Mech Cadet Yu 1 (August 2017)

Mech Cadet Yu #1

So giant robots come from outer space and befriend kids, who then pilot them in battle against… whatever. Maybe kaiju. Only this time a robot–a Mech–picks a teen janitor instead of an specially trained teen, because of course the U.S. military has gotten involved and corrupted the whole process. They’ve even built their own Mech; I wonder if the evil cadet who bullies teen janitor Yu will be a problem? Excellent art from Takeshi Miyazawa but utterly hohum script from Greg Pak. Mech Cadet Yu is off a rocky start.

CREDITS

Writer, Greg Pak; penciller, Takeshi Miyazawa; colorist, Triona Farrell; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Godshaper 4 (July 2017)

Godshaper #4

It’s a downer of an issue. Spurrier sort of hints at it in dialogue, but then it gets violent and even more depressing. Godshaper is a six issue series, after all, and Spurrier’s got to get things in place for the finale. This issue certainly gets things in order for revealations and dramatic twists; though most of it takes place in a nightclub. Ennay is performing, then musing despondently on life, then it’s time for the action. Goonface does better on the performing and musing than the action–the action’s just too big in too few pages, in too confined a space. But it’s a success. The issue’s a complete bummer.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jonas Goonface; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Godshaper 3 (June 2017)

Gs3

I wish it didn’t, but Godshaper now feels like a six issue limited. This issue ends with a cliffhanger setting up big revelations and big events. Spurrier hints at what the reveal might involve and it’s a lot of stuff. It’s not bad stuff, it’s interesting stuff, it’s just a lot of stuff. And the series only has three more issues and about half this issue washing its hands with the idea of character development. Spurrier totally changes the pace. It’s still well-written and Goonface’s art is a lot of fun–though he gets overwhelmed–but the reading experience of Godshaper has changed. Fingers crossed it’s worth it.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jonas Goonface; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Godshaper 2 (May 2017)

Godshaper #2

Beautiful pacing on this one. Not just Spurrier, but Goonface too. They draw Godshaper out, letting the characters sort of swell with development. Occasionally, they’ll turn the valve for some release on it but otherwise Spurrier is too busy exploring the setting. There’s plot material, sure, but it’s first runner-up. Setting, characters, plot. Goonface makes sure to keep the characters present enough, whether it’s setting stuff or plot stuff. The first issue was good, but this one raises the book’s potential big time.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jonas Goonface; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York 2 (November 2016)

Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York #2

There are a couple plot twists and they’re both lame. Worse is Pak’s revelation Big Trouble Jack Burton has the same super powers as the Black Cat. Bayliss is weak on expressions, which doesn’t help Pak’s lame Snake Plissken characterization. Might be time to plan my escape.

CREDITS

Snake’s World; writer, Greg Pak; artist, Daniel Bayliss; colorist, Triona Farrell; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong of Skull Island 4 (October 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #4

There’s simultaneously too much and not enough going on. Asmus doesn’t do any character development, just more revelations in the political intrigue. He hasn’t built the foundation for it. While Magno has some beautiful composition for the still moments, the action’s messy. Kong’s a lot of work.

CREDITS

Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York 1 (October 2016)

Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York #1

The funny part of Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York is its a crossover of the Boom! licensed comics, not the original film properties. I read Big Trouble for a bit; it ranged from really good to even better for a while. Escape not at all. It was the pits. I’m not sure I would’ve given the book a shot if I’d known it was for the comics and not the movies.

But I’m glad I did. It’s not quite up to snuff, but it might be as the series progresses. I don’t think great–there’s a lot wrong with it starting with Daniel Bayliss drawing Jack Burton with an exaggerated chin (like in the Big Trouble book) only being way too realistic about it. It looks like some kind of photoshop distortion, not an absurdly square-jawed person. Though maybe Jack had implants in the comic, who knows.

Otherwise Bayliss’s art is fine. Greg Pak doesn’t get to New York this issue, instead he rips off some Fury Road type villains so there can be desert scenes. Because when I think a book called Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York, I think desert scenery. So there’s not much heavy lifting on atmosphere. Bayliss does a solid amusing shootout for Snake. Not as good on the Jack Burton action.

Pat’s premise is simple–he makes fun of Snake and Jack, which means he’s not getting the point of either character, at least not for how the films portrayed them. Snake and Jack–who both look the same in the comic, which is part of the gimmick–were Kurt Russell doing a John Wayne and a Clint Eastwood impression. He didn’t do them well, but it’s like John Carpenter learned from “Elvis” just not to tell Russell he was doing bad and instead turn it into a great performance. Or Carpenter just hadn’t figured out how to direct a movie star as opposed to an actor, whatever. Pak doesn’t get it. Or maybe the comics didn’t get it.

I’m surprised but I’ll be back for the next one. It’s competent enough and it’s ambitiously dumb enough. If Pak doesn’t mess anything up and just does his Fury Road rip-off, hopefully with a Macready cameo at the end, it’ll better than anyone expected. Except maybe Fresno Bob.

CREDITS

Snake’s World; writer, Greg Pak; artist, Daniel Bayliss; colorist, Triona Farrell; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong of Skull Island 3 (September 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #3

Giant apes are more interesting than political intrigue, even political intrigue involving multiple betrayals. These betrayals all happen during a crisis and all happen with characters it’s impossible to really care about because we’re three issues into Kong of Skull Island–the title does now make awesome (and plural) sense, however.

Still Asmus does a bit of a better job this issue than the last time around. Not good enough to right the course of the comic but at least enough to encourage further time and reading energy.

Another problem this issue is how much Magno has to do with the art and in how little time. He’s got a volcanic eruption, a political coup and a Kong riot. By the time the lava gets to some stranded folks, I’d forgotten about the volcano entirely. There was too much of the other stuff–including that pointless political intrigue. At least the Kong wrangler lady gets more to do, even if way too much of it happens off panel so Asmus can concentrate on moving the disaster part of it forward.

But next issue promises lots of giant apes versus dinosaurs–and some yawn-inducing political intrigue, no doubt–so I’ll be back. But Kong’s almost out of the goodwill the first issue generated.

CREDITS

Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong of Skull Island 2 (August 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #2

This issue of Kong of Skull Island is a moderate disappointment. The book was off to a surprisingly strong start after its premiere issue, only to stumble through every page of this second one. Occasionally, Asmus and Magno hit a stride for a couple pages, but there’s always another drop off. Asmus loses his strong protagonist for the issue, whether she’s present or not. The opening has her, but it’s a mess of an action scene. Magno has some really cool art of the Kong, but not much else. He’s rushing through what should be the character moments.

There’s way too much with a royal wedding involving the protagonist’s boyfriend. He’s marrying a more appropriate princess. It’s annoying stuff and paced entirely wrong. When the Kong trainer does show up again, the comic’s almost over. She’s just there to have a fight with the prince dude before something else happens.

Asmus doesn’t connect with any of the material this issue. He’s adapting, so the plot isn’t his fault, just his inability to find a way to write it with personality.

I really wish the comic had been better. It’s almost there on the art–Magno has some great stuff, he really does, but better art isn’t going to fix the writing.

CREDITS

Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong of Skull Island 1 (July 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #1

So, when Dark Horse released Kong: King of Skull Island over ten years ago, I bought it. It wasn’t cheap. And I read it. It wasn’t good. Kong of Skull Island is based on that “illustrated novel.” (It was by Joe DeVito).

Anyway–I wasn’t excited about Kong of Skull Island. Artist Carlos Magno is sort of Boom!’s go-to licensed event guy. He’s incredibly competent, incredibly thoughtful, but lacking in anything particularly dynamic. Kong doesn’t give him anything particularly dynamic. It does play to his strengths, however. He gets to do lots of detailed scenery, lots of carefully posed characters in panels so as not to have to carry the comic with their dialogue, lots of giant monsters, lots of awesome quarter page spreads.

Oh, right. The “awesome” factor to Kong. It’s about a bunch of giant apes–who fight, of course–their intellectually and socially (if not technologically) advanced Polynesian keepers and an island with a bunch of dinosaurs. There’s a cool mythology to it, which works in Kong because writer James Asmus isn’t keeping DeVito’s frame. God forbid he does a sequel series, but who knows, I think they might do an all right job of it.

I went into Kong of Skull Island expecting nothing. Instead, there’s some cool Magno art–he does apes well–there’s dinosaurs, there’s an engaging enough tragic Polynesian romance thing, there’s giant apes fighting. It works. I kind of hope Boom! doesn’t screw up this licensed franchise thing. They’re doing all right by Kong.

CREDITS

Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Spire 8 (June 2016)

The Spire #8

There are many impressive things about this final issue of The Spire, but I think the most impressive has to be how Spurrier and Stokely pace the whole thing. It’s got a quick reveal to solve a mystery, but then spins into this third act for the entire series. Not to mention a simultaneously tragic and awesome moment for one of its most endearing characters.

Hero fartslam indeed.

While Shå solves The Spire’s mystery internally, there’s also the external (to the Spire) battle raging. Or preparing to rage. Spurrier and Stokely toggle quickly between the plot threads, agitating the reader and the characters. Everything is urgent, everything is important.

There are lots of revelations this issue. Probably half a dozen, maybe a few more, but Spurrier has the reader (and the characters) ready to digest them while in motion. There are no pause points; he never has to go overtly expository. The Spire is sci-fi fantasy noir, using the best narrative devices of each genre.

It’s also the best kind of depressing–symmetrical in its tragedy. Spurrier and Stokely make it move so fast, it haunts the reader without ever having to shock the reader.

The Spire is outstanding. Spurrier and Stokely. Hero fartslam.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kennel Block Blues 4 (May 2016)

Kennel Block Blues #4

Ferrier tries really hard to get this issue to the finish. It doesn’t really happen. Oh, he and Bayliss get there, but there’s nowhere for them to be. The characters never resonate; definitely not the protagonists, who have almost no chemistry. Ferrier takes it out on an even bigger downer note.

This issue has a musical number and a prison riot. Now, Kennel Block Blues has never shown the human “guards” past some demonic hands. Only they’re people. There is some semblance of functioning reality to the book, as much as Ferrier tries to avoid it, he does need it. Because if there’s not a functioning reality, who cares if these dogs get loose.

Maybe the first half of the issue is solid. Bayliss’s art is good throughout, but Ferrier’s only got story for the first half. Once there’s the prison break, he loses track.

It’s a bumpy book, with great art and not bad zeitgeist gimmickry; Ferrier can’t bring it together for the finale.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Daniel Bayliss; colorist, Adam Metcalfe; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Mary Gumport and Eric Harburn; publisher, Image Comics.

The Spire 7 (March 2016)

The Spire #7

The Spire is racing. Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe it was always headed to this place, where Spurrier rushes everything. Every subplot, every character, the cliffhanger resolution, the mid-issue reveals, everything is rushed. When it gets the final panel and Shå says “it all ends tonight,” Spurrier and Stokely are out of breath. It’s an exhausting read.

Stokely does better than Spurrier. There’s some rather good art moments, visual moments, while Spurrier’s got almost nothing going in the script. When he does have the opportunity to really write a scene, he goes the other way and lets Stokely figure it out visually. The Spire is a good comic, no doubt about it, it’s well-executed, it’s inventive. It’s just too much this issue. Spurrier wants it to do too much.

There’s enough story here for two issues. With the pacing, with the reveals, Spurrier could do two issues. There’s a whole Pug subplot Spurrier races through. It’s penultimate issue, wrap-up stuff.

I’m assuming (and hoping) Spurrier’s got a stronger narrative next issue. I want The Spire to end well. Stokely–and Spurrier–have done some excellent work on this book.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kennel Block Blues 3 (April 2016)

Kennel Block Blues #3

I had to reread parts of this issue of Kennel Block Blues because it really does fit my theorized pattern to Ferrier’s four issue limited series. Great open, weak second issue, then strong for the last two. The guy needs to just go with three issue limited series, he really does.

This issue has the hero–Oliver (not Elliot, I think I called him Elliot last time)–in solitary. He’s got to confront the truth about himself in order to become the superhero. It’s not deep because it’s kind of absurd. Ferrier’s trying to do it from the dog’s perspective, but not the anthropomorphized dog, the actual adorable puppy.

Bayliss does a wonderful job with all the art. He’s got three very different tones to bring together and he does–real world, “human” world, hallucination world. Blues becomes a Disney movie for a second, then goes back to being a Miramax movie.

It’s a strange book and not entirely successful. The characters are good, but thin. Ferrier’s relying on the gimmick. Albeit a sturdy gimmick.

Good comic.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Daniel Bayliss; colorist, Adam Metcalfe; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Mary Gumport and Eric Harburn; publisher, Image Comics.

The Spire 6 (January 2016)

The Spire #6

This issue of The Spire is a weird read. It takes place outside the city, with Shå in disguise and acting as a bodyguard. A forbidden, unknown bodyguard, but bodyguard nonetheless. There’s a lot about the religious fanatics, setting them up as villains–with the awkward shortcut of comparing them to Christian fundamentalist bigots. But while Spurrier’s setting all that stuff up in the wasteland, he’s also keeping some wheels of intrigue running in the city.

With the setting, with the wasteland, Spurrier and Stokely have this foreign but very familiar comic book sci-fi setting. It’s just the right mix of everything, so beautifully brought together with Stokely’s organic artwork. He’s got the right level of detail, though he does go deeper with it on the wasteland half of the issue. It’s a voyage of discovery not just for the reader, but the characters as well. The reader has finally become a Spire city dweller.

But since Shå is in disguise the whole issue, the comic sort of doesn’t look like The Spire. Shå, as a character, changes. Her actions read differently with a different face. I’m curious if Spurrier’s going to do anything with it or I was just surprised to see the viciousness in an altered context.

Great finale with Shå interrogating an evil priest guy. Very unexpected finish.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kennel Block Blues 2 (March 2016)

Kennel Block Blues #2

Kennel Block Blues has that predictable Ferrier drop in quality the second issue. I’m fine with it. What’s weird–and I was expecting Ferrier to have a drop because he’s stretched three issues worth of story to four issues before–is how well Blues contains the explosion. The story this issue–involving a terribly planned prison break (I mean, one really has to question the intelligence of this dogs)–rearranges the characters. It doesn’t develop them, it moves them to different places in the narrative. Actually, it’s weirder than I thought….

Well, in rearranging the characters’ conflicts, it acts more as a postscript to the first issue than it’s own part of a whole. It’s a treading water issue, only really, really fast treading. Ferrier has a lot to get through. He and Bayliss don’t just have the prison break to stretch out, they also have the way they introduce the plan. It’s awesome visual pacing from Bayliss. It’s not particularly effective because there’s no content, but the art’s great.

So, even though it’s not a great comic, it’s a well-produced mediocre one. Ferrier hasn’t found the right editor. Or I’ll be wrong and the next issue of Blues won’t recover; I think it will though.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Daniel Bayliss; colorist, Adam Metcalfe; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Mary Gumport and Eric Harburn; publisher, Image Comics.

Kennel Block Blues 1 (February 2016)

Kennel Block Blues #1

Prison comics are, often from Boom!, now a thing. Ryan Ferrier and Daniel Bayliss’s Kennel Block Blues is an animal kennel–a cross-species animal kennel–as a prison. It’s one of those books I sort of wish I’d see from Vertigo. Well, Vertigo a few years ago. Something media-friendly without being prepackaged for other media. It’s mainstream pop culture, but the more erudite varieties.

It’s also excellent.

Ferrier’s protagonist, whose name I don’t remember–Buddy, maybe–is freshly incarcerated. He’s the entry point. Through him, we meet the other canine inmates–the cats are the dominate species in Blues. There’s male and female inmates together. Not even a thought, presumably because they’re all spayed and neutered.

There’s funny pet stuff, there’s depressingly bleak prison stuff. Ferrier’s got the right tone and he’s got the right artist. Bayliss has been kicking around for a while and Blues has his work the tightest I’ve seen it. He gets to be busy but still restrained, still focused on moving the story forward.

Knowing Ferrier, the ride will be rocky but rewarding–or maybe he’s got a better plot line this series. Blues is a confident, assured comic. The creators, the editors. It’s deservedly slick. Ferrier’s gotten to be a writer I look forward to reading. And Boom!’s brand comes with some built-in respect these days.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Daniel Bayliss; colorist, Adam Metcalfe; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Mary Gunport and Eric Harburn; publisher, Image Comics.

The Spire 5 (December 2015)

The Spire #5

Politics, romance, danger, The Spire.

Five issues into the series and it still has a lot of surprises. Not just in the plot or a twist, which this issue ends on, but in how Spurrier is going to approach it. This issue is very straightforward, nearly noir with Shå having to figure some things out while trying to protect her girlfriend, her queen, not to mention having to get her sidekick back.

It’s a lot. And it’s packed because Stokely’s drawing this amazing setting–Stokely and Spurrier even do full page spreads, which is a little weird for The Spire. And Stokely’s not great at them, quite frankly, but I like seeing them. I like seeing Spurrier and Stokely open up The Spire. It feels like the series is still growing.

Spurrier’s writing is outstanding. Shå’s becoming something of a great character, which I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Spire 4 (October 2015)

The Spire #4

It’s a bridging issue. It’s a decent bridging issue because Stokely’s art is awesome, but it’s still a bridging issue. What does Spurrier do besides humanize the protagonist a bit? He hints at more dread down the line. So what?

There’s a great fight scene and then Stokely gets to do a lot of narrative design stuff through composition, but it’s a light issue. It relies so heavily on the art, it would probably read better with almost no text. Especially the scenes between the protagonist and her royal love interest, just because Spurrier wants to hint at a secret and a problem but doesn’t want to have to deal with them here.

Why not?

Because it’s a bridging issue. And nothing gets done in bridging issues; Spurrier introduces some okay things to deal with later. But it’s light stuff.

I’m still excited about The Spire but it definitely feels like BOOM! shouldn’t have given Spurrier eight issues. Four might not have been enough (as this issue’s the fourth) but eight is way too many.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Spire 3 (September 2015)

The Spire #3

The Spire continues to impress, though this issue shows the first time Spurrier lets the size of the comic get ahead of him. The lead, Shå, shows up on the fourth page or so–some beautiful double page spreads from Stokley here–but she’s just leading the reader through procedural stuff. Stokley’s composition is so strong, it overpowers the character stuff with she and her royal girlfriend bickering. The Spire is a big book, big story.

For the last third of the book, after some political stuff–the non-humans coming and pledging their loyalty to the humans–is all Shå’s, which is good, because Spurrier gets the balance right here between moving the plot forward and letting the comic have a protagonist.

The comic succeeds not just because Spurrier can eventually pull it around, but because he and Stokely work so well together. Stokely’s art makes some of the longer expository scenes visually dynamic enough to move. It’s a good comic, it just meanders a bit as Spurrier tries to define the boundaries of the setting.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Fiction 4 (September 2015)

I don’t understand The Fiction. I don’t understand what Pires is going for. This final issue, which is so movie-ready the black guy realizes he’s the third wheel in a meta-moment, dumbs down the story. It’s like Pires wanted to make The Unwritten simpler. This issue I also noticed the numerous similarities to Stephen King’s It.

But what Pires doesn’t seem to get is how mismatched Rubín is for that approach to the material. Rubín can’t do craven commercialism, which is what Pires asks this issue. The result is a funny looking comic with no visual rhythm. It doesn’t help there are four or five endings, starting about five pages into the issue.

In all The Fiction has been a disappointment. But Pires is getting better. I don’t think I finished his last book for BOOM!. Will his next series be better? Probably. I mean, he doesn’t threaten another series of The Fiction, which is a good start.

CREDITS

Neverending or Until We Can’t (Let’s Go); writer, Curt Pires; artist, David Rubín; colorist, Michael Garland; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Fiction 3 (August 2015)

The Fiction #3

The Fiction only has one issue left, which is sort of good. Pires doesn’t exactly run out of ideas this issue–it’s just once he gets his regular cast together it does remind all of a sudden of Unwritten and then it’s hard to think of Fiction on its own.

Also because it’s almost over. It goes one more issue, so reading this issue, it feels like the grand setup for the finish. Pires does maybe four flashbacks, one flash forward and then two asides with the evil monster thing running the otherworld place. It’s even got a hard cliffhanger with the three good guys about to face off with their evil friend.

Like I said, while Pires might not entirely be out of ideas, it really seems like he let the impulse run its course. It’s an eighties cartoon all of a sudden.

The comic’s not compelling exactly when it needs to be most compelling.

CREDITS

Where the Sky Hangs or Four Years Gone; writer, Curt Pires; artist, David Rubín; colorist, Michael Garland; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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