Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 6 (March 2015)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #6

I wish Joe Casey loved Jack Kirby a little less. Captain Victory ends with the origin of Captain Victory (as the young version sees it unfold). What’s it like? Well, there are nods to Darkseid, the New Gods, probably something from Marvel, whatever. It’s a bunch of Kirby homage and it’s all in summary and none of it’s in scene.

There are eight guest artists doing this history section and it’s disconcerting. It never lets the issue find of good visual vibe because Fox is back on the space ship and not doing much in the series’s actual settings. Well, there’s one great shot of the World Trade Center.

Is it a good finish to the series?

Not at all. Everything goes toward the homage aspect. Casey doesn’t care about any of his characters.

Is it a good Kirby homage?

Doubt it; he’d probably prefer people get a good read.

CREDITS

Writer, Joe Casey; artists, Nathan Fox and friends; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 5 (February 2015)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #5

Connor Willumsen contributes maybe four pages to this issue of Captain Victory and, wow, it really doesn’t help the comic. The comic’s all right–it starts sci-fi heavy (something about Fox’s art doesn’t match the Kirby designs in the denser areas)–and the main action in New York City is great. Except when it’s Willumsen’s pages. He draws cute.

The issue has the young Victory clone and his vigilante mentor fighting an evil pig monster. Willumsen draws the pig monster cute. He also draws young Captain Victory cute. Well, more than cute. Pretty. Willumsen draws Victory as a pretty teenage girl with a short hair cut. It’s really, really weird.

But Fox is back soon enough and he and Casey do all right. The issue ends with a lot of alien tech art and not a lot of story. It’s not a good cliffhanger. But the rest works out.

CREDITS

Writer, Joe Casey; artists, Nathan Fox and Connor Willumsen; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 8 (January 2015)

Flash Gordon #8

I’m really hoping there’s an explanation for Flash Gordon, like Dynamite’s licensing deal changed or something along those lines. Because it’s hard to believe Parker and Shaner put all their previous effort into a comic where the majority of pages went to advertisements for upcoming comics. And their amazing Flash Gordon adaptation only gets something like twelve pages to finish.

Shaner gets to do some nice Alex Raymond nods and Parker gets in one to the movie, but there’s no enthusiasm anymore. They aren’t doing anything original (actually, I’m not sure if Parker did it intentionally, but he does rip off the ending of a recent British cult television series).

Of course, if the explanation is a licensing deal, they are kind of stuck. Maybe Parker and Shaner will go on to something without such a disappointing finish. Best of luck on future projects and so on.

It’s gorgeous, empty.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordi Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 4 (January 2015)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #4

Fox gets to do a lot on the art. There’s a lot of drama to the Earth stuff; between it and the adventures of the barbaric Captain Victory taking down a big monster, Fox gets to shine. Less, of course, with the subplot involving the guys on the ship. It’s really annoying this issue, with Casey desperately filling their dialogue with expository details.

Once things get moving, then get to the Benjamin Marra-illustrated flashback to Captain Victory as a boy (it’s a huge, wonderful Kirby homage but with an absurdly tough mentor ranger narrating), the issue just clicks.

Casey introduces a great subplot to the Earth stuff too, with the scientists creating a monster. In some ways, Captain Victory is too much going on at once and there’s never a chance to lock on any of the characters. In other ways, it’s smartly done fluff (with dashes of content).

CREDITS

Writer, Joe Casey; artists, Nathan Fox and Benjamin Marra; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 7 (December 2014)

Flash Gordon #7

Well, if this issue of Flash Gordon feels a little light, it might be because Parker and Shaner’s story clocks in at something like fifteen pages. The rest of the comic is promotional material.

As for the Flash comic… it’s fine until the end, when Parker tacks on a questionable cliffhanger–after racing through some other scenes. Flash, Dale and Zarkov have an adventure with Vultan and the Hawkmen but Parker doesn’t have much story for them. There’s some talking head, some science with Flash is asleep and some banter and very little else. Shaner gets a few awesome things to draw and some average ones. It’s a pretty story while it’s going on.

It’s just too short. And the cliffhanger is just too abrupt. Parker is done with Flash Gordon an issue early; there’s no more character development–there’s no Ming this issue either. It’s a rather lazy outing.

B- 

CREDITS

Skyfall; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordi Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 3 (October 2014)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #3

Even though Casey is incredibly derivative–the Close Encounters nod is simultaneously cute and too much–Captain Victory continues to be a nice diversion. It’s not exactly a fun read, just because Casey doesn’t let his cast enjoy anything. There is some banter with the scientists on Earth who are looking at one of the spacecraft, but it’s over in a page.

Otherwise, the comic is very serious. And having Jim Mahfood do the adventures of a cat-man on a slightly hostile planet without any humor is too much. The comic has some great art–Fox some outstanding work–but Captain Victory isn’t actually ambitious sci-fi. It pretends to be ambitious sci-fi; Casey’s script is very traditional stuff. Even the artists’ page layouts are very traditional (even when trying to appear otherwise).

It’s an acceptable, enjoyable comic. But the artists deserve a balls to the wall script.

CREDITS

Writer, Joe Casey; artists, Nathan Fox, Jim Mahfood and Farel Darlyrmple; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 6 (October 2014)

Flash Gordon #6

Parker does a great job with the Arboria adventure–with Dale getting to hang out with some Hawkmen and then rescue Flash and Zarkov on her own. There’s a lot of personality for the Arborians–well, the people with the wings, less so for the sirens who don’t have wings. Parker keeps it relatively simple; maybe too much so, but it’s Flash Gordon and it works with simplicity.

He resolves the cliffhanger, moves into Dale’s adventure, has some good laughs at Flash and, especially, Zarkov’s expenses and then brings in Vultan. Now, he and Shaner don’t do a lot of obvious Flash Gordon: The Movie references but something about Vultan’s introduction just screams Brian Blessed. It’s a wonderful touch.

The final has a too abrupt cliffhanger, but then there’s some nice epilogue art with Ming from Greg Smallwood. And Parker’s finally giving Ming some real personality.

It works out well.

A- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jeff Parker and Jordie Bellaire; artists, Evan Shaner and Greg Smallwood; colorist, Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 2 (September 2014)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #2

Casey goes with a four-way split on this issue of Captain Victory. There's the original spaceship, hunting down the Captain Victory clones who are off who knows where. Then there's the full-grown, yet battle damaged Captain Victory who doesn't remember anything exactly; he's getting in fights on a garbage planet. He's not particularly interesting and Casey doesn't give Fox a lot of great stuff to draw on his story.

But then the stuff with the teenage Captain Victory on Earth in a bad neighborhood is awesome. Casey and Fox create this distinct look, where the kid–Victor–has a mentor, has friends, yet still has his goofy mission. It's nice stuff.

The fourth part comes in between Captains Victory on their respective planets–it's the flashback. Michel Fiffe handles the art. It's a boring flashback to Captain Victory's bland space adventures.

Even the garbage planet is better than dull flashbacks.

It's okay stuff.

CREDITS

Writer, Joe Casey; artists, Nathan Fox and Michel Fiffe; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Shadow 4 (August 1986)

The Shadow #4

What a terrible comic. Chaykin’s handling of The Shadow reminds of someone trying to catch a hot potato; whenever he does have a hold on it, it’s not for long enough and it always leaves that all right place for an unpredictable direction.

The problem with this issue–besides the big revelations are predictable and idiotic–is the focus on the villains. Chaykin elevates villains maybe deserving of a half issue crisis to a full four issues. All the sex and drugs and violence is supposed to be enough to make up for them not having any depth, but it doesn’t. It’s not even real flash–it’s implied flash.

And Chaykin could try for flash but doesn’t. He doesn’t try with the art. After the art being The Shadow’s single exemplary factor to this point, he gives up for the last issue.

It’s not completely worthless–the art’s still more than decent–but it’s close.

D 

CREDITS

Blood & Judgment, Conclusion; writer and artist, Howard Chaykin; colorist, Alex Wald; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Andrew Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

The Shadow 3 (July 1986)

The Shadow #3

With his third of four issues, Chaykin gets around to showing what his Shadow comic is actually going to be like.

Tepid.

Lots of ribald talk, lots of innuendo (both verbal and visual) and not much else. There’s one good action sequence, where Chaykin’s sense of design and the toughness of the comic inform how the Shadow fights criminals. But it’s just one scene. Then Chaykin’s got a pointless montage of all the Shadow’s new contacts–he’s got a finite story he’s trying to tell but he’s also got a checklist of old Shadow references to make.

He also has way too big of a cast and sends around eighty percent of the good guy supporting cast off page because he doesn’t want to deal with them. He needs them for a line in a scene, then he disposes of them. It’s very messy and poorly designed.

But the art’s magnificent.

C 

CREDITS

Blood & Judgment, Part Three; writer and artist, Howard Chaykin; colorist, Alex Wald; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Andrew Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

The Shadow 2 (June 1986)

The Shadow #2

So after an entirely forward-looking first issue, Chaykin gets around to the flashbacks in the second. In some ways, since the Shadow isn’t the most familiar character, an origin is necessary. But Chaykin goes overboard. He feels the need to rationalize the magical city where the Shadow, back before he was the Shadow, finds himself. There’s too much confusion around the Shadow’s identity too; it’s too dense. The origin takes a whole fourth of the series and there’s got to be some stuff in there Chaykin doesn’t need.

It’d be worse if he uses it all, considering how stuffed he makes the origin. All that extra material cuts back on the composition possibilities too. There’s a nice visit to Shanghai, but the out of fuel airplane sequence is a waste of visual time. And the magical city? Chaykin’s too cynical for it.

It’s decent enough, but Chaykin handles it predictably.

B 

CREDITS

Blood & Judgment, Part Two; writer and artist, Howard Chaykin; colorist, Alex Wald; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Andrew Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

The Shadow 1 (May 1986)

The Shadow #1

Howard Chaykin's The Shadow. He takes an interesting approach to bringing back a World War II era costumed adventurer–he lets everyone age while the Shadow is away. Most of the issue has various agents–people in their later years–getting viciously murdered.

One of the Shadow's agents has had a daughter who works for some crime bureau place and she recognizes the pattern and goes to save her father. There's a fantastic action sequence that time. Chaykin's composition throughout the comic is phenomenal; the comic is always moving, with Chaykin's page layouts helping the reader get through the pages quick enough.

Only the villains get much development–the good guys are either getting killed off or trying not to get killed off. Chaykin's got a certain level of absurdity for the mega-rich villains but he keeps it in reasonable check. It's like an enthusiastic, extremely bloody and mean James Bond movie.

It's awesome.

A 

CREDITS

Blood & Judgment, Part One; writer and artist, Howard Chaykin; colorist, Alex Wald; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Andrew Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Flash Gordon 5 (August 2014)

Flash Gordon #5

Odd issue. Parker splits it in two–with Sandy Jarrell and Richard Case on art for the first part and Shanier on the second. The first part, which is just Flash, Dale and Zarkov in their spaceship trying to get to the next world, has a lot of personality. There’s banter, there’s Ming megalomania. Even with the art change, it feels like the Flash Gordon comic Parker and Shanier have been working towards. Jarrell and Case do well too.

But the second half–where Shanier actually does the art–feels way off. The cast lands on Skyworld and gets into immediate trouble. Parker paces it terribly. While the art is good, the content isn’t expansive enough to make the abbreviated story worth it. Parker makes Dale the de facto protagonist but doesn’t give her anything to do but whine.

Like I said before, odd. It’s likely just a bump. Hopefully.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artists, Sandy Jarrell, Richard Case and Evan Shaner; colorists, Jarrell and Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Terminal Hero 1 (August 2014)

Terminal Hero #1

Maybe it’ll all be a dream. Not the comic but me having spent the time reading it. Actually, that dismissal is a little unfair; I want to keep going with Terminal Hero, just to see if writer Peter Milligan ever finds anything original to say.

He has some hints of personality when the protagonist is discovering his bad self (versus his good, pure self). There’s also some decent dialogue.

There’s also a lot of scenes out of “ordinary man gets extraordinary powers” pop culture familiars, like Hollow Man and The Fly most obviously. There are probably more. Milligan isn’t trying hard at all.

Even though it’s a Dynamite comic, it feels a lot like a nineties Vertigo comic. Something forgettable or failed; given the protagonist’s telekinetic control over matter and his flaming hair, I wonder if it was supposed to be a Vertigo Firestorm relaunch.

Piotr Kowalski’s art’s nice enough.

C 

CREDITS

No More Trouble; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Piotr Kowalski; colorist, Kelly Fitzpatrick; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 1 (August 2014)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #1

So here’s the story to Captain Victory, near as I can tell–the captain of a starship gets cloned on death so he can continue to command. Pretty neat. Only the clones in this case end up in different places thanks to a time warp or wormhole. Dirty seventies New York and then some wasteland planet.

I say “near as I can tell” because writer Joe Casey front loads the comic with a bunch of information about the starship and its crew and its mission. These elements might be important, but they’re not the most important thing in the issue. They aren’t the hook.

So it’s a messy first issue. The art, from Nathan Fox, is awesome but somewhat incomplete. He doesn’t do enough backgrounds and so on. Also, bland sci-fi shots aren’t the best use of his time.

Hopefully Casey will get focused and the comic will improve.

CREDITS

Writer, Joe Casey; artists, Nathan Fox, Jim Rugg and Ulises Farinas; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 4 (July 2014)

Flash Gordon #4

The cynic in me assumes the Phantom’s one panel appearance in a flashback to Flash fighting off the invaders from Mongo on Earth is so Dynamite can do a team-up limited series some time down the road. The reader in me hopes they do it and get Parker to write it.

Parker’s plotting on Flash is a little stunted; the story has been told–quite famously–many times and anticipated of what Parker and Shaner do in their revision plays into how the comic reads. But this issue, with Parker developing Dale as she does exposition, really shows the series’s strengths. Underneath all the flash (sorry), Parker is taking it seriously.

He’s just enjoying himself while he does it.

There’s a good little scene for Zarkov this issue and a great one for Ming. It moves fast, but not too fast to enjoy Shaner’s art.

Flash is working out.

B+ 

CREDITS

Tell the Legend; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Vampirella 2 (July 2014)

Vampirella #2

It would be so much easier to read Vampirella if her costume weren’t so atrocious. I mean, come on–Collins writes her as an espionage agent for the Vatican. She should have appropriate attire.

The comic’s strangely not terrible, with Collins writing her protagonist a lot better than the book seems to deserve. There’s a whole bunch of exposition and it goes on way too long, but every few pages, Collins writes a good moment for Vampirella and it’s an acceptable read. More nonsense, good moment, once again acceptable.

Another problem is Berkenkotter’s lack of imagination. He does a Max Schreck Nosferatu visual homage only it’s not done with any humor or acknowledgement of doing a visual homage. It’s supposed to be serious and instead it flops. If it’s going to be goofy and nostalgic, make it goofy and nostalgic.

Collins reveals her setup for the arc; it seems fine.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Patrick Berkenkotter; inker, Dennis Crisostomo; colorist, Jorge Sutil; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Hannah Gorfinkel, Molly Mahan and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 3 (June 2014)

Flash Gordon #3

Reading the big gladiator fight scene in this issue–and I make this statement as a compliment–one can almost hear the Queen music from the movie. Parker has a couple big action sequences in this one, with Flash destroying the factory at the beginning and then the gladiator battle against Ming’s beastmen.

And Parker is finally delivering on the Flash Gordon promise. There are a few things Flash Gordon does–well, there are a lot of things, but these three things are important because they aren’t obvious and they’re what make him a different kind of hero. First, he always acts selflessly. Second, he inspires. Now, lots of other comic and media heroes do these things, but always forced. Third, he isn’t bright. The magic of Flash Gordon is his childlike understanding of right and wrong. It’s magnificent.

And Parker gets it. Even if the cliffhanger’s forced.

Great art from Shaner too.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 2 (May 2014)

Flash Gordon #2

This issue doesn’t just have gorgeous art, it also has Parker getting to a Flash Gordon moment. Flash Gordon’s a hard character to portray because his behaviors are often contradictory. Parker understands some of that contradiction this issue, with Flash both being foolish and also being selfless. The selfless bit comes gloriously at the end.

As for the Shaner art, the comic is beginning to seriously impress. Flash and company are on Arboria and Shaner does a great double page (half) panel of an airship carrying them around. It’s fantastically rendered, as is everything else this issue.

Parker doesn’t spend much time establishing any of the characters–and Prince Baran seems a little too unobservant–but the time he does spend is successful. Dale is still a mystery, but Professor Zarkov is great. Both funny and smart at the same time; humor and exposition in one.

Flash’s starting to impress.

B+ 

CREDITS

Flash in the Forest; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Vampirella 1 (June 2014)

Vampirella #1

It’s difficult to take Vampirella seriously with that costume. Even though writer Nancy A. Collins does come up with a decent plot and a couple good twists (and a lame soft cliffhanger), the costume hurts the comic quite a bit. It just says, “We aren’t that serious.”

Another big problem is how Collins paces out the narrative. There’s a prologue with a family in danger, then Vampirella coming to investigate and then an action sequence and then, finally, Collins taking the time to establish the character. Collins uses third person narration for it; while lamely presented in a text box, the narration itself is good.

Strangely, even though the comic doesn’t seem to have much promise–the art from Patrick Berkenkotter and Dennis Crisostomo is adequate if uninspired mainstream stuff (too slick to be scary)–the comic’s still compelling. Collins’s two good twists are excellent, making Vampirella a definite curiosity.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Patrick Berkenkotter; inker, Dennis Crisostomo; colorist, Jorge Sutil; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Hannah Gorfinkel, Molly Mahan and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Red Team 7 (March 2014)

Red Team #7

I think they must have wanted to sell it to cable. Ennis does a great season one finish. Not, you know, like a good narrative finish or something. But a good commercial one. You can just see it on the TV screen.

But Ennis has lost his characters. They’re secondary to his big action sequence and it’s not a good one. It doesn’t play well in a comic. Ennis goes with short lines of dialogue and they don’t resonate when being read in a row. There’s not enough content. It’s all flash.

Cermak does a little better with the action. Except his art seems much slicker than before. There’s not as much energy to the comic and it needs a bunch for this last issue.

Ennis peaked early on this book but the conclusion is far worse than one would have thought. The ending feels tacked on and wholly artificial.

C- 

CREDITS

The Rules (Reprise); writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Craig Cermak; colorist, Adriano Honorato Lucas; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Hannah Gorfinkel, Molly Mahan and Joe Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Red Team 6 (November 2013)

Red Team #6

It’s a bad issue. Ennis rushes through the entire thing, only gets in a single moment of personality. I guess he tries to open with personality, with the female cop apparently doing a mock eulogy for a terrible cop. But it’s way too forced. It’s Ennis on a soapbox and one he doesn’t care about. Red Team is not a deep rumination on the NYPD or police officers. Not sure why Ennis feels the need to pretend here.

Then it’s immediately into a contrived hurrying up of the resolution to the big plot twist. It’s like Ennis thought the series would go on longer and then found out, this issue, he had two more to go and then he was cancelled.

But it’s a limited series so Ennis should have paced it better. All of the personality is gone from the characters, even the supporting ones act rather differently.

Boo.

C- 

CREDITS

The Fallen; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Craig Cermak; colorist, Adriano Honorato Lucas; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Molly Mahan and Joe Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Red Team 5 (September 2013)

Red Team #5

Ennis sets up an obvious plot development for the end of the issue and doesn’t go with it, though he’s got time. Instead, he sneaks in a different surprise. He’s been setting it up for a number of issues, but very discreetly. It’ll be interesting to see if he goes with that first obvious one.

Now, neither of these plot developments are the big twist. The issue ends with a big twist. Who knows what Ennis will do with it, but it’s a definite fifth issue twist. He’s winding down the comic; the surprises will be limited from here on, just because he’s not trying to make the reader care about new things anymore.

The rest of the issue is decent. A couple really good little moments, some interesting talking heads scenes–not so much in content, but in Ennis giving them the time.

He’s having fun winding things down.

B 

CREDITS

The Night of Nights; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Craig Cermak; colorist, Adriano Honorato Lucas; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joe Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Red Team 4 (July 2013)

Red Team #4

The issue has some of Ennis’s most ambitious ideas and he doesn’t connect with them. He’s got the female cop–darned if I can remember any of the characters names except Eddie the good cop protagonist and Duke the team leader–getting into an altercation with an attempted rape at a night club. It’s just after she’s had an argument with her sister. They’re in a bar. There are a lot of layers. And Ennis tries to move them all together, but it doesn’t work. His characters aren’t strong enough.

However, there are some really nice scenes in here. Even when the scenes aren’t entirely successful, like the talking heads between the female cop and good guy Eddie at the end. It’s a decent enough scene, paced really well.

Just not great.

Cermak can’t do the action either. He can’t maintain the figures for the fight scene.

Still, perfectly decent.

B 

CREDITS

The Bullet-Dodgers; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Craig Cermak; colorist, Adriano Honorato Lucas; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joe Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Red Team 3 (June 2013)

Red Team #3

Ennis pulls Red Team up a notch with this issue. He’s got a lot on the killer cops, but they’re after a pedophile priest–and Ennis manages to restrain himself when they’re all talking about the Catholic Church too. It’s impressive.

But that sequence is actually awkward. It goes on too long, since the protagonist is doing the actual killing. So there’s got to be something special about it because this guy’s better rendered than his partners. Until the end, when the guy is talking to his partner–the single lady detective–at the bar and he’s whining about his life and so on. There’s nothing about the main plot; these two cops killing criminals in their off-time doesn’t figure in, it’s just a good scene.

And it’s the best scene in the series so far, because if Ennis is developing the main plot with it, he’s not showing his cards.

Very solid.

B+ 

CREDITS

The God Squad; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Craig Cermak; colorist, Adriano Honorato Lucas; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joe Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Red Team 2 (March 2013)

Red Team #2

So Ennis is going to go through various interrogations, which surprised me. I sort of figured there’d be a big shoot out at the end, Reservoir Dogs style. Maybe he’s still got time.

Cermak still has issues with depth. His faces are all very detailed, maybe too much–they almost looks an etching sometimes–but they seem taped onto their background. This issue it’s slightly better, maybe because he doesn’t do so many close-ups.

Ennis continues the story, very rationally laying out the rules for the titular Red Team when they go out and kill people. There’s a really lame subplot for the good cop, who has a wife suffering multiple miscarriages and so on. Again, Ennis isn’t trying here. Some of his plotting seems straight out of a daytime soap. Not even a night-time one.

But the dialogue’s quite good and the issue works out well enough.

B 

CREDITS

The Rules; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Craig Cermak; colorist, Adriano Honorato Lucas; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joe Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Red Team 1 (February 2013)

Red Team #1

Garth Ennis must have really wanted to write for “The Shield”. Or maybe Dynamite asked him to do something ready for Hollywood and not too expensive so he came up with Red Team.

An elite unit of cops decides to kill a bad guy. There’s one reluctant member and he apparently lives through the series because he’s getting interrogated. Not the most original narrative structure for this kind of thing, but Ennis is on auto-pilot. While there’s some decent talking heads stuff and good little moments throughout, Ennis isn’t going for anything special.

As a formula cop thing? It’s all right. Depending on the cast, I’d probably watch the show. He seems to be gearing it towards a mini-series sale–it’s weird to think independent comics weren’t always so desperate for the movie or TV option. Especially not a guy like Ennis.

Craig Cermak’s art detailed but shallow.

B- 

CREDITS

The First-Timers; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Craig Cermak; colorist, Adriano Honorato Lucas; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joe Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 1 (April 2014)

Flash Gordon #1

Another Flash Gordon? Hasn’t this license well been long tapped dry? Based on this first issue, maybe not. Oh, it’s got problems–the soft cliffhanger is a disaster, turning the residents of Arboria into Ewoks (so far), and writer Jeff Parker digs himself a hole with the narration structure–half the issue in the past, half in the present, all the big invasion events in expository dialogue–but it’s not bad. A lot of it’s pretty good.

The past stuff sets up the characters in the modern context, which is both good and bad. The scenes are fine, they just don’t really introduce the characters, only the changes Parker has made bringing them into the twenty-first century.

The good stuff comes once Flash, Dale and Zarkov are on the run on Mongo. Parker writes their character interactions well.

Decent art from Evan Shaner–great scenery.

It’s problematic but okay.

B- 

CREDITS

The Man From Earth; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Doc Savage 1 (December 2013)

7250637 doc savage 1

Chris Roberson seems to love Doc Savage. His enthusiasm for the concept, the thirties setting and the characters makes this issue work. He just doesn’t necessarily write a comic for readers who aren’t just as enthusiastic about Doc Savage. And I imagine it’d be hard to find anyone enthusiastic enough.

There’s nothing new about this series. Roberson manages to make nods toward the characters Savage has influenced but nods aren’t enough for an issue, much less a series.

Bilquis Evely’s art is okay, but it too lacks anything particular. It’s a straightforward rendering of 1933 New York City. It’s occasionally very nice looking (mostly with the buildings, though one or two action panels), but the style is too vanilla. Savage needs some teeth, otherwise it comes off too pat.

Roberson employs a laid back narration, which is interesting and different. Sadly, he’s writing narration of mediocre story. Where’s the beef?

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Chris Roberson; artist, Bilquis Evely; colorist, Daniela Miwa; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Molly Mahan and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 72 (November 2012)

884852

And what does Ennis do for the finish? Pretty much exactly what I figured he’d do.

There’s nothing really new to it, except maybe some gesture of humanity from the corporate jerk, which makes one wonder why Ennis bothered. Darick Robertson comes back (with assists from Richard P. Clark). It makes sense, since Robertson created the series with Ennis, only Russ Braun’s been doing the book for ages….

Having Robertson back doesn’t remind of the good times. For better or worse, Ennis broke the comic to the point nothing could fix it. The new and improved Hughie is a laughable creation. I don’t think Ennis could get one natural scene out of him–first thing, he tries (and fails) to show the old Hughie shining through.

After not even faking caring for dozens of issues, Ennis attempts to put on a sincere face. It doesn’t work… but could be worse.

CREDITS

You Found Me; writer, Garth Ennis; artists, Darick Robertson and Richard P. Clark; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

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