Howard the Duck 4 (July 1976)

Howard the Duck #4

Gene Colan pencils this issue and does a good job of it. He’s not a definitive Howard illustrator except he does manage to draw everything besides the duck perfectly. And his duck is really good, it just doesn’t have as much personality as it could.

The story this issue has Howard and Beverly happening across their groovy, narcoleptic artist neighbor who fights crime while he’s sleep-walking. Again, Gerber figures out a way to look at some comic book superhero stuff without having to leave the issue. As for the Cleveland locations, Gerber and Colan don’t concentrate on it. It could be any city. Bigger or smaller.

There’s eventually a lot of action with a variety of forms for the antagonist. Gerber just happens across these amazing situations for Howard. His being a duck is still immaterial to it, one forgets he’s not just a human in a duck suit.

CREDITS

The Sleep… of the Just!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Annette Kawecki; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 3 (May 1976)

Howard the Duck #3

What’s so great about Howard the Duck–or one of the great things, as I’m now discovering there are a lot of them in the comic–is how Gerber is able to use the absurdity of the concept to examine comic book reality. Howard and Beverly exist in a world with the fantastical nature of the Marvel Universe, but without any of the magic.

This issue has some of the magic spilling over in a kung fu master. It’s an entirely absurd, hilarious, beautifully drawn sequence but Gerber’s able to do it sincerely too. Howard, a blowhard closet intellectual, is a real character. He just looks like a duck and talks to Sam Spade. And Beverly’s already showing more depth than expected.

John Buscema does the art this issue. It works out well, though he doesn’t have the detail (or the Donald references) Brunner brings to Howard.

Another great comic.

CREDITS

Four Feathers of Death!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, John Buscema; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Annette Kawecki; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 2 (March 1976)

Howard the Duck #2

What an amazing comic. Gerber tells the story straight–so it’s this very simple tale of a talking duck, this girl he likes, this boy who likes the girl the talking duck likes and then the talking turnip who controls the boy who likes the girl who the talking duck likes.

The turnip and the duck don’t know each other. But they must do battle, as is the way of the world.

In the meantime, Gerber gives the boy this great overdone sci-fi space odyssey through his own mind as the turnip takes over. Gerber imaginatively–and not hostilely–snickers at sci-fi.

Of course, there’s also the talking duck. And his lady friend. They have a great relationship between Gerber never writes Howard as anything but a jerk yet Beverly always falls for it. She’s an optimist, clearly.

Great Brunner art–dirty Donald at times.

Very good comic.

CREDITS

Cry Turnip!; writer, Steve Gerber; pencillers, Jim Starlin and Frank Brunner; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 1 (January 1976)

Howard the Duck #1

It’s not clear if it’s going to be the secret of the series or just the secret of this issue, but the way writer Steve Gerber makes Howard the Duck work is by coming up with this hippie political commentary plot and except have it narrated by Sam Spade.

Only Sam Spade isn’t a P.I.

And it’s not Sam Spade. It’s Howard. The talking duck. Gerber moves Howard through the comic like a forties heavy. He’s Edward G. Robinson chewing on scenery while Gerber spins this crazy story of a powerful magician who also happens to be a complete square who wants to use a cosmic calculator to rearrange the universe.

And there’s a girl.

And a Spider-Man cameo.

And gorgeous art from Frank Brunner. Gerber gives him a lot of weird stuff to draw but it’s all weirder going together and Brunner nails it every page.

Awesome comics.

CREDITS

Howard the Barbarian; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller and colorist, Frank Brunner; inker, Steve Leialoha; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ms. Marvel 15 (July 2015)

Ms. Marvel #15

Okay, what is Wilson doing?

She knows where the story beats are for this issue but she doesn’t hit them. Kamala gets her first broken heart. Wilson gives it the last page and less emphasis than a string of Star Trek and Star Wars references. After a big gamer reference.

Did Marvel’s market research come back on Ms. Marvel or something? Because it’s darned frustrating considering the rest of the issue is pretty good stuff. There’s an amusing “real world” products in the comic book context with Bruno using Siri and Kamala’s phone being better than anything James Bond had in the sixties and maybe seventies. Wilson’s got the chops to do something amazing and, every time something significant comes up, she goes for the cheap shot.

And the overall plotting is getting stretched.

Ms. Marvel’s still an exceptionally likable comic, Wilson’s just making it more likable than exceptional lately.

CREDITS

Crushed, Part Three; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Takeshi Miyazawa; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ms. Marvel 14 (June 2015)

Ms. Marvel #14

When I started reading this issue of Ms. Marvel, all I could think was, “I hope Wilson doesn’t make Kamala’s ‘too good to be true’ love interest too good to be true.” Because lumping Kamala in with all the other teen superheroes who’ve fallen for someone they shouldn’t have? I hoped, pointlessly as it turns out, Wilson wouldn’t go down that path.

But I never expected her to do it in one issue. Especially not an issue where she finally turned the brother into a full character (he and Bruno have “the talk”). It sends a really odd message about Kamala actually not being able to think for herself, which I’m sure isn’t Wilson’s goal but it’s definitely what happens.

Miyazawa’s artwork is lovely this issue. Not perfect, but lovely. It’s idyllic, New York trash on the streets romance. It’s a shame Wilson went with the norm and chucked it.

CREDITS

Crushed, Part Two; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Takeshi Miyazawa; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4 (June 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4

Writer North understands the lunacy of Squirrel Girl fighting Galactus but he’s also writing a comic called The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl so he’s got to come up with something good. And he does. He doesn’t take the comic too seriously, which helps because Squirrel Girl doesn’t need to be realistic, it needs to obey internal logic and amuse.

It does both.

North turns Galactus into a great banter partner for Squirrel Girl–and Tippy Toe–while keeping a decent amount of action in the comic. Henderson’s style doesn’t seem a fit for comic book space opera but she really gets it. The Galactus encounter on the moon is full of memorable shots and set pieces.

There’s even tension–which should be difficult since North has a bunch of framing devices but it all works out rather nicely. If Squirrel Girl can take on Galactus and win, it can do anything.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Jon Moisan and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 3 (May 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3

It’s another good issue of Squirrel Girl with a whole bunch of action. Doreen gets into a big fight with Whiplash–while I get what North’s trying to do with the dialogue, the Whiplash dialogue isn’t any good, which might be my only complaint about the dialogue–and then has to save her roommate from bank robbers.

And then get to the moon and deal with Galactus. It’s a busy issue, no doubt.

North knows how to pace that busy issue out in a way it reads fast and never has to slow for the exposition to set up the next problem. Some of that comes to how North blocks out sequences–emphasizing Doreen talking to her squirrel over her adventures in an Iron Man suit–but it’s also just the approach to the comic.

Fast and fun; it’s got depth because North’s able.

Though he does endanger many squirrels.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Jon Moisan and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ms. Marvel 13 (May 2015)

Ms. Marvel #13

Takeshi Miyazawa’s art changes Ms. Marvel. Along with the family emphasis this issue–Kamala spending time with them instead of her friends at school–it nearly feels like a different comic. Miyazawa is action-oriented and less detailed than the comic’s usual artists; the experience is different.

Even Wilson’s writing feels a little different, as she’s telling a story about Kamala having a crush on an older guy from her perspective (complete with her family being concerned).

Not to mention there are now so many Inhumans everywhere it’s like Marvel got worried about “The Flash” TV show being able to create a new supervillain every week and had to do the same thing themselves.

Unfortunately, that aspect of the comic–the big, somewhat boring supervillain fight–is where Wilson loses track of her story. The texture is gone. It’s a fine issue, it just ends a little out of step.

CREDITS

Crushed, Part One; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Takeshi Miyazawa; colorists, Ian Herring and Irma Knivila; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Princess Leia 1 (May 2015)

Princess Leia #1

You know, I almost like Princess Leia. Oh, the Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson art is lame cheesecake–though they draw Chewbacca well enough–and Mark Waid’s script isn’t lame cheesecake. Waid’s doing this whole “young Princess Leia” comes into her own thing, really playing into the original Star Wars idea of her being young.

Waid’s dialogue makes Leia feel like a good “Disney Princess” Leia; not so much believable Carrie Fisher would be speaking the lines, which are far too modern and not seventies (or Lucas) enough. And it raises an interesting question about this new Star Wars line of comics.

As these first Disney Star Wars titles start, serving as direct sequel to the original seventies film, with the new film with that cast imminent, can these characters be bigger than their actors?

No. No, they can not.

Leia is still okay. Waid’s engaged, even though Dodson isn’t.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Waid; penciller, Terry Dodson; inker, Rachel Dodson; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham and Jordan D. White; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ms. Marvel 12 (May 2015)

Ms. Marvel #12

It’s an extremely impressive issue of Ms. Marvel from Wilson. Loki–the good version of Loki–guest-stars and gets involved with the life of Bruno and, through Bruno, Kamala, and through Kamala and Bruno, Ms. Marvel. It’s a classic Spider-Man coincidence but Wilson adorns it just right and homages with a great creativity.

There’s also the guest art from Elmo Bondoc. Bondoc’s art is outstanding, but thanks to Ian Herring’s gentle colors. Almost watercolor-y.

This issue of Ms. Marvel is where the series has arrived and achieved. It’s a Marvel comic, done with this not-Marvel art style, about a non-Marvel style hero; the art perfectly matches the story. But it’s not Marvel formula. It’s Wilson and her editors doing something really amazing with Ms. Marvel.

The last time Marvel was this cool was on The Mighty Thor. It’s been way too long between the two.

CREDITS

Loki in Love; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Elmo Bondoc; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 2 (April 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Cruel, cruel cliffhanger. So cruel.

After an awesome–Doreen would agree with the adjective–issue of Squirrel Girl, writer North finds the perfect spot for a cliffhanger. Not so much for what’s going to happen next, but because of what’s happened just before. The way North plots the issue is fantastic. There’s a combination of Doreen in college, Doreen in the Marvel Universe as Squirrel Girl, Doreen as her own as Squirrel Girl.

Well, with Tippy-Toe, of course.

North has the most fun with the plot in the second half of the issue, with Doreen having to break into Stark Tower, but his best work is in how he establishes her friendship with roommate Nancy. North’s use of thought balloons reminds why they’re a great tool in the comic writer’s cache.

Henderson’s handling of Doreen on art is the important thing. The expressions have to work. And they do.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Jacob Thomas and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ms. Marvel 11 (April 2015)

Ms. Marvel #11

Wilson wraps up this Ms. Marvel arc rather nicely. In fact, she finally does what I said Ms. Marvel should’ve done issues ago–she calls the cops. Not sure why she couldn’t call Wolverine, who’d be guest star value (oh, wait, I heard he’s dead), but still… calling for help’s a good move.

Alphona has some great art moments at the end of the issue. The art’s fine–even if the action scenes are confusing and not particularly rewarding–but the art at the end on all the characters (there are about two dozen roaming around) is great. There’s a lot of personality to that scene.

And the comic’s got personality too. Wilson’s final speeches for Kamala are a little much, but they’re sincere as far as the character goes.

The story arc ends with a big bang, but not much character development. Ms. Marvel is a sturdy comic book.

CREDITS

Generation Why, Part Four; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Adrian Alphona; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

She-Hulk 12 (April 2015)

She-Hulk #12

Well, there’s quite a bit to the last issue of She-Hulk, where Soule reveals the great conspiracy but not the paralegal’s secret. The conspiracy has to do with magic and some other stuff and Soule assumes the reader remembers small details from eight issues ago. Not enough expository reminding and it affects how the issue reads.

Of course, Pulido’s art also affects the issue’s reading experience, simply because he’s not doing very much. Most of the issue takes place in the middle of nowhere North Dakota. Even when Pulido does have scenery, he doesn’t do much with it. The whole thing–even if Soule and Pulido intentionally wanted to focus on the characters–feels rushed.

And the resolution isn’t much of a pay-off. It answers all the questions, but it’s a pat resolution.

Soule and Pulido close genially enough. She-Hulk’s been mostly amusing and occasionally awesome.

CREDITS

Final Verdict; writer, Charles Soule; artist, Javier Pulido; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye 21 (April 2015)

Hawkeye #21

What’s confusing about this very late issue of Hawkeye is how little anyone is invested in it; Fraction has the most fun when doing a one page scene between Clint and Jessica Drew and Aja manages to do some great design, but not turn it into great art. So what does Fraction do? He goes for a gut shot at the end, just to make Hawkeye feel like it matters.

Only, it’s been so long since Fraction’s done anything interesting with Clint, he’s got way too big a hill to climb.

Strangest is how they handle the “meat” of the issue. The regular tenants of the building fighting the Eastern European mobsters Home Alone-style, as one character puts it. It seems like a very small fight with only a handful of participants. The coordination, both in writing and art, isn’t there.

Maybe Fraction should’ve let someone else finish it.

CREDITS

Rio Bravo; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Wars 1 (March 2015)

Star Wars #1

There’re a lot of politics in the first issue of Star Wars. Some of it is just Jason Aaron trying to make the Star Wars universe makes sense for thinking reader, which is always been a problem. Star Wars is not deep.

And Aaron’s script for Star Wars turns out not to be very deep either. He has the obligatory Darth Vader appearance, some throwback references to the last movie. Marvel’s Star Wars series is set immediately following the original movie, just like that Marvel Star Wars series from the seventies. So why read another one? Is it supposed to be the John Cassaday art?

Hopefully not, because the art is pretty lame. Cassaday doesn’t have a lot of enthusiasm for the spacecraft or the setting and he goes for photo reference on the main cast but gets lazy almost every third panel.

Star Wars is lame, lazy and redundant.

CREDITS

Skywalker Strikes; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, John Cassaday; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Charles Beacham and Jordan D. White; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ant-Man 1 (March 2015)

Ant-Man #1

My goodness, isn’t Ant-Man likable? Given the economics of the comic book industry, Big Two or not, it’s interesting how Marvel models their comics after the movies, even though the audience for the two is completely different.

But Nick Spencer writes a likable Ant-Man comic. It’s self-depreciating and heartwarming, with Scott Lang endearing himself to the reader through narration. Not to mention Scott’s ex-wife being a harpy but Scott doesn’t want their daughter blaming her. Spencer gets away with a lot on the likability card. But, in the end, besides the rather competent execution from Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas, the selling point is the gimmick.

It’s about a guy who can shrink himself… what if he lived in a dollhouse? I’m sure this Ant-Man story has been told before. But why not tell it (and read it) again?

Same ant channel, same ant time.

CREDITS

Writer, Nick Spencer; artist, Ramon Rosanas; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Jon Moisan and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

She-Hulk 11 (February 2015)

She-Hulk #11

Well. A She-Hulk versus Titania issue. With Volcana thrown in for good measure. It’s sort of fun, seeing Pulido do a huge fight sequence. He uses double-page spreads, half double-page spreads; it all looks pretty great.

Unfortunately, even though Soule likes writing Titania’s banter, there’s nothing to the issue. It’s an all action issue without a gimmick. Pulido drawing the fight is fine, but they end up in the middle of nowhere, which is safer for collateral damage… and visually boring. Pulido’s looking at how the fight mechanics work between the two of them. And it just makes the whole thing a little tired.

Of course the mystery bad guy is going to hire Titiana. Who else would he hire?

And there’s no real pay-off with the final reveal because Soule takes the moment away from the regular cast. It’s amusing, but thin. It’s all thin.

B- 

CREDITS

Titanium Blues; writer, Charles Soule; artist, Javier Pulido; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ms. Marvel 10 (February 2015)

Ms. Marvel #10

In some ways, the more rushed Alphona gets on the art, the better the art gets. The energy in the rushing moves the comic along. Wilson goes for inspirational superhero talk quite a few times this issue, which drags it out. And it’s good she drags it out, because the story consists of a fight scene and the aftermath. Not a long time.

What’s so shocking about the issue is how traditional it gets. It’s a nice, solid Marvel superhero book. Wilson has gotten Ms. Marvel, after ten issues, to a comfortable point where she has enough built-up character to not worry about big steps in character development. Here, Kamala just gets to apply her knowledge, knowledge the reader knows about at this point so there’s not a lot of exposition related to. It.

Wilson and Alphona also the sell the heavily foreshadowed ending, but still comes off affecting.

B+ 

CREDITS

Generation Why, Part Three; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Adrian Alphona; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

She-Hulk 10 (January 2015)

She-Hulk #10

Soule wraps up the Captain America story rather nicely. The story doesn’t really belong in a She-Hulk comic, just because it doesn’t have anything to do with Jen (not the explanation of the past nor the current lawsuit, which is just a red herring) but it’s a good Marvel universe story. Soule manages to correct the story arc’s trajectory; it helps he’s sincere.

Even though trial scenes–along with the explanatory flashback–take up the majority of the issue, Soule gets in a rather good postscript (or two) to the courtroom stuff. It almost reads like Soule thanking the reader for enjoying the story with he and Pulido. It’s a good finish, even though it gets a little cute as far as the composition flourishes.

Unfortunately, the cliffhanger suggests Soule’s returning to his–and the series’s–least successful plot line. Who knows, maybe he’ll pull it off after all.

B 

CREDITS

The Good Old Days, Conclusion; writer, Charles Soule; artist, Javier Pulido; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; letterer, Gus Pillsbury; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ragnarök 2 (September 2014)

Ragnarok #2

Why do I even talk? Why do I ever say nice things like Ragnarök isn’t going to be some non-Marvel Thor knock-off?

Because I then end up with egg on my face when Simonson does the big reveal this issue. No, the comic’s not about the lady elf who kicks butt or whatever, it’s actually about a zombie Thor resurrected in a strange land after the Asgardian gods have fallen.

Yawn.

And Simonson spends the entire issue setting up the reveal of it being Thor, even after he brings the hammer back into it. So the entire comic is one scene, the resolution to the previous issue’s cliffhanger. There is a talking rat, however, and I like rats. But a talking rat is not enough to make this comic–or this series–worthwhile.

Maybe Simonson think it’s his great last Thor comic but the deceptive narration kills it.

C- 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Walt Simonson; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, John Workman; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

She-Hulk 9 (December 2014)

She-Hulk #9

The trial of Steve Rogers continues and… Soule fumbles it. There’s no other word for how he handles She-Hulk defending Captain America in a civil suit against Daredevil. He fumbles it.

Because there’s the accusation against Steve Rogers and then there are two possibilities–one, Soule is going for a Mark Millar/Brian Michael Bendis “break the Internet in half” crap on Captain America, which seems unlikely (so his responsibility is just to make it seem possible) or, two, he’s going to drag out the courtroom stuff and reveal Captain America had a great, valiant plan up his sleeve the whole time.

It’s hard to dislike the comic, just because the beginning court scenes are so good (before Soule reveals too much with Matt and Jennifer having an entirely unprofessional chat) and because Pulido’s art is so strong. He does wonders with the courtroom scenes.

But it’s dramatically tepid.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; artist, Javier Pulido; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ms. Marvel 9 (December 2014)

Ms. Marvel #9

It’s secret origin of Kamala Khan time. Does she particularly need a secret origin? Maybe. But the way Wilson brings in the Inhumans–they’re not quite deus ex machina, but they’re a very convienient way to tie Ms. Marvel into big Marvel publishing events–doesn’t take advantage of anything.

Wilson literally beams Kamala, her admirer and Lockjaw over to Inhuman City for a quick expository scene with some decent Star Wars jokes. Much better than the Star Wars joke later in the issue, when Kamala returns to her nemesis’s hideout to free the kids. It’s a messy scene, leading to a pat cliffhanger. Wilson doesn’t have the issue plotted well at all.

Worse, Alphona’s artwork doesn’t work out–not in the opening cliffhanger resolution at the high school and not later when Kamala’s talking to her parents. The panels are too busy, too full.

It’s fine, but definitely not standout.

B 

CREDITS

Generation Why, Part Two; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Adrian Alphona; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Man-Thing 8 (August 1974)

The Man-Thing #8

In some ways, this issue has Gerber's most predictable comics scene. Man-Thing and his arch-nemesis, Schist, duke it out in a laboratory where Man-Thing could regain his humanity and Schist could gain immortality. Sure, it's got Ploog artwork, but there's nothing special about it. Man-Thing's almost human again and Gerber can't think of anything to do with him except fight.

Again, Ploog art, so it's a nice-looking fight, but it's just narratively goofy.

Gerber opens the issue with an about-face in the cliffhanger resolution. Man-Thing goes straight back to the secret city, this time Schist and a sidekick following. Man-Thing's return to the city is the most impressive handling in the issue, with Gerber giving him a guide and so on. It just doesn't go anywhere. The character development on the guest stars, for example, is just filler before the fight scene.

It's a pretty good issue… but not great.

B 

CREDITS

The Gift of Death!; writer, Steve Gerber; artist, Mike Ploog; colorist, Petra Goldberg; letterer, Artie Simek; editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Man-Thing 7 (July 1974)

The Man-Thing #7

Gerber only puts in a few pages of about Man-Thing's erstwhile human sidekicks, but it's all rather effective. It grounds the issue in reality, while elsewhere Gerber pulls even more out of it. Turns out Schist isn't just a bad guy industrialist, he's actually a bad guy industrialist looking for the fountain of youth.

Unconnectedly, Man-Thing finds himself captured by a bunch of Spanish conquistadors and stumbles across said fountain and a lost city.

The issue works thanks to Gerber's pacing and Ploog's art. The capture sequence is lengthy–and Man-Thing's attack on the city is somewhat inexplicable–but Gerber keeps everything busy enough he's able to sneak in a big moment towards the end. While there's a visual component, there's also how Gerber handles the familiar expository narration regarding Man-Thing.

It's an excellent issue. Ploog doesn't get to draw much in terms of variety, but he excels at what he's given.

A- 

CREDITS

The Old Die Young!; writer, Steve Gerber; artist, Mike Ploog; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ms. Marvel 8 (November 2014)

Ms. Marvel #8

Alphona is back on the art, which explains the awkwardness of the action scenes. Alphona goes crazy with the settings–this time an abandoned factory setting–and that detail distracts from the action. It's hard to discern foreground from background.

But Alphona returning does make Kamala and company seem very familiar; it's only eight issues in and it feels a little retro.

Kamala gains a friend in Lockjaw. Wilson might be using him too much as a comedy prop, but it's cute enough. The problem with the issue is the ending; everything up until the cliffhanger works out fine but the cliffhanger has Kamala's powers failing her in a crisis situation (a giant robot attacking her at school).

Of course they're going to fail her at just that moment, when else would they? Powers always have to fail at the most dramatic moment otherwise the plotting would have to be more compelling.

B 

CREDITS

Generation Why, Part One; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Adrian Alphona; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek 13 (April 1981)

Star Trek #13

It's another high concept issue from Pasko. He's got McCoy meeting his estranged daughter for the first time in years–she's marrying a Vulcan (a much, much older one), he's got the Enterprise landing on The Planet of the Apes and how it plays out when the Klingons get there. Pasko plays a lot with the Apes thing, working in all sorts of genre stuff from outside. For a few pages, it all feels like a mystery, and for the last few pages, Pasko goes for difficult character work.

In the meantime, there are also Klingons around causing trouble. These are post-The Motion Picture Klingons having a very television series encounter with the Enterprise crew. Pasko hits all the right notes.

Unfortunately, Joe Brozowski, Tom Palmer and Marie Severin don't exactly knock it out of the park on the art. There's some detail, but it's more consistently messy than anything else.

B+ 

CREDITS

All the Infinite Ways; writer, Martin Pasko; pencillers, Joe Brozowski, Tom Palmer and Diverse Hands; inkers, Palmer and Marie Severin; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours 4 (May 2003)

Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours #4

Bickering. Jones concludes the series with Bruce and Logan bickering. Why are they bickering? Because Wolverine first appeared in a Hulk comic and Jones is trying to tie into their long history together? Who knows–Wolverine sure isn’t remembered for his Hulk appearance.

The resolution is tightly paced, with Jones first using humor to get through Wolverine’s fight with the Shredder. The Shredder proves disposable–a distraction from the main event of the issue, Wolverine versus the Hulk. Even the resolution to the plane crash takes a backseat to the fight.

And Kolins draws a visceral yet still amusing fight between the two. The Hulk’s foaming at the mouth at one point; Jones wisely doesn’t try for an intelligent Hulk or even a sensible one. It’s just the fight the comic has been promising since the first issue.

It’s jokey, oddly pleasant while still maintaining some toughness. Jones isn’t going for deep.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Scott Kolins; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, John Miesegaes; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye 20 (November 2014)

Hawkeye #20

What do the Kate Bishop Hawkeye comics read like if you haven’t seen The Last Goodbye?

Fraction wraps up Kate’s trip to Los Angeles with one of his fractured (Fraction fractures, get it? Oh, never mind) narratives–the beginning is actually a midpoint and the ending is a reference to the beginning. But it’s a finite fractured narrative and it works. He doesn’t go too far with it.

He’s always been better with Kate on the book, probably because the reader is going to identify with her read of Clint Barton as a tool. Fraction writes him as a tool after all.

There’s a lot of humor, a lot of black humor, the occasional creepy moment and some great Kate narration. Fraction doesn’t do a lot of resolution for the L.A. outing, however, which would have been nice.

Wu’s art is great.

It gets laggy but it works out swell.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Annie Wu; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours 3 (April 2003)

Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours #3

Jones maintains a great pace through Six Hours. He’s got his four plot lines going–Bruce and Logan, the villain (the Shredder, because apparently Eastman and Laird don’t know how to copyright), the captive pilot and the missing boy’s parents back in Florida. It moves really well; Jones doesn’t cover a lot of time, but he does spend just the right amount on each characters’ experiences.

Unfortunately, he also has some really goofy dialogue. And Bruce and Logan barely have anything to do in the comic. They bicker a lot. Jones isn’t big on character development and he’s even less inclined to spend any time developing his two leads. The cliffhanger, with Bruce and Logan versus the Shredder (or at least the first attack), is just silly.

Dialogue aside, it’s also silly because it’s a big action set piece on a tranquil lake. Kolins does fine on art, lake and all.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Scott Kolins; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, John Miesegaes; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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