Batman 400 (October 1986)

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I hate this comic. I hate how DC used it, I hate how Moench writes it, even if it was an editorial decision.

There are nods to Moench’s run, but only so far as he gets to give each of his characters a page to sort of say goodbye. There’s no closure on any of the story lines, not a single one.

There’s also a lot of crappy art. It’s an anniversary issue with a lot of big names drawing either poorly or against their style. Rick Leonardi and Arthur Adams are some of the worst offenders, but not even Brian Bolland does particularly well. Ken Steacy is the only decent one.

Moench’s writing for a different audience than usual, the casual Batman reader, not the regular. Apparently he thinks the casual readers like endless exposition and incredible stupidity. It’s a distressing, long read; a terrible capstone to Moench’s run.

D- 

CREDITS

Resurrection Night!; writer, Doug Moench; pencillers, John Byrne, Steve Lightle, George Perez, Paris Cullins, Bill Sienkiewicz, Art Adams, Tom Sutton, Steve Leialoha, Joe Kubert, Ken Steacy, Rick Leonardi and Brian Bolland; inkers, Byrne, Bruce Patterson, Perez, Larry Mahlstedt, Sienkiewicz, Terry Austin, Ricardo Villagran, Leialoha, Kubert, Steacy, Karl Kesel and Bolland; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterers, John Costanza and Andy Kubert; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem 2 (September 2009)

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Eh. Dang it, Bendis.

He structures the whole thing around Jonah’s obituary for Spider-Man, flashing back to Spidey’s first meeting with the Hulk. Oddly enough, back when Peter ran into the Hulk at the end of the original series, he didn’t seem like he remembered this incident. Bendis rips off the school bus scene from Superman pretty well. It’s not the problem.

The problem is when Jonah’s article becomes the cake instead of the icing. The art is then a bunch of pin-ups, mostly by Bagley, which seems inappropriate given how much work Immonen’s done. Scott Hanna’s inks seem a little off on the flashback story too, like he forgot how to do Ultimate Spider-Man.

The finale, with Immonen, takes a couple pages. It’s predictable, without personality. If Immonen had more room, he might’ve been able to make it visually matter.

Bendis strikes again. He’s dreadfully uneven.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; pencillers, Mark Bagley, Stuart Immonen, Trevor Hairsine, Ron Randall, Bill Sienkiewicz and John Totleben; inkers, Scott Hanna, Wade von Grawbadger, Danny Miki, Randall, Sienkiewicz and Totleben; colorists, Pete Pantazis and Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Mark Paniccia and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl 4 (February 2013)

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Once again, I’m left wondering if there’s some intentional misogyny in these Before Watchmen series just because it would horrify Alan Moore.

This issue we learn Nite Owl has this costumed madam–something Straczynski never makes feasible–in love with him and he’s in love with her but he later mocks her in Watchmen to Laurie.

I’d forgotten that particular detail from the original series, but wow, Straczynski really harps on it. I like how Hollis gets a pass, how Rorschach gets a pass, but not the madam. Unless Straczynski’s whole point is to make Dan unlikable and to make people dislike him when rereading Watchmen.

As I doubt anyone would reread Nite Owl. I’m not even sure the editors read it.

It’s shallow, trite and mean. Lame tie-in to the original series at the end too.

Kubert’s art is awful but I think his dad had just died.

CREDITS

From One Nite Owl to Another; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; penciller, Andy Kubert; inker, Bill Sienkiewicz; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Nick Napolitano; editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl 3 (November 2012)

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Well, Straczynski doesn’t spend too much time with Rorschach this issue, just enough to remind everyone he’s around. He also doesn’t continue the narration from Dan. Why? Because Straczynski doesn’t go for any kind of narrative continuity; Nite Owl’s an editorial disaster. I guess no one told Straczynski to at least be consistent in his lameness.

And, except the art (which is often quite bad), Nite Owl’s more lame than anything else. Straczynski treats Dan like a bit of a tool, introducing the costumed madam as a way to show off how little Dan has going for him. Because, after reading Watchmen, everyone wanted a comic about Dan Dreiberg losing his virginity to a vaguely condescending madam.

Straczynski also makes the juxtaposing of Dan and Rorschach crystal clear. Lovely to read someone who treats his readers like illiterate boobs.

The Higgins pirate thing is especially bad here too.

CREDITS

Thanks for Coming; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; penciller, Andy Kubert; inkers, Joe Kubert and Bill Sienkiewicz; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Nick Napolitano. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Evil That Men Do, Part Six; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Rocketeer Adventures 2 1 (March 2012)

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The best story in this issue is Peter David and Bill Sienkiewicz spoofing “Merry Melodies” cartoons, featuring Daffy as the Ducketeer. The art’s great, the script’s funny; David knows how to pace the story right. It’s nice because it’s so subtle–obviously, there’d be pop culture about America’s only science hero.

Stan Sakai’s story makes a similar acknowledgement, but it tries too hard. Or maybe Sakai’s art just doesn’t work for the story. Cliff encounters a farm boy with parents named Jonathan and Martha and a nemesis named Lex. It’s cute, but slight. And the way Sakai draws faces is off-putting.

The worst is Marc Guggenheim and Sandy Plunkett’s story. The art is good, but the writing is moronic. Cliff’s injured and unconscious; his rescuers have to decide if they’re turning him in since he’s a wanted vigilante. Guggenheim’s script gets worse as it goes.

It’s a disappointing issue.

CREDITS

The Good Guys; writer, Marc Guggenheim; artist, Sandy Plunkett; colorist, Jeromy Cox; letterer, Robbie Robbins. The Ducketeer; writer, Peter David; artist, colorist and letterer, Bill Sienkiewicz. A Dream of Flying; writer, artist and letterer, Stan Sakai; colorist, Dave Stewart. Editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

DC Universe: Legacies 9 (March 2011)

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Do the editors do anything here? They’ve got a black Firestorm during the Day of Judgment scenes… about six years too early.

Wein also covers Final Night; the two are connected, but he doesn’t do a very good job of making them flow together. This issue features some of his worst writing in a while. The dialogue just gets terrible and the events he’s showing… he’s just summarizing crossovers. At least the first few issues, they were aping Marvels. Now they’re just wasting paper and ink.

The Jesus Saiz art, tragically, is weak. I like Saiz and I’m not sure if it’s Story’s inks or if he’s just started working less lately… but some of his faces are really lazy.

The Captain Marvel backup—with Sienkiewicz art—is beautiful. It’s also the most convoluted thing I can remember reading. The narration boxes don’t follow any logic, making it a chore.

CREDITS

Knight After Night!; pencillers, Scott Kolins and Jesus Saiz; inkers, Kolins and Karl Story; colorists, Mike Atiyeh, Marta Martinez and Tom Chu. Snapshot: Resurrection; artist, Bill Sienkiewicz; colorist, Daniel Vozzo. Writer, Len Wein; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Rachel Gluckstern, Simona Martore, Chris Conroy, Joey Cavalieri and Mike Carlin; publisher, DC Comics.

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 6 (April 2006)

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It’s interesting how Morgan finishes the series—it’s kind of setting up Civil War only with Dubya as the bad guy. I guess Marvel lost the cajones.

He also runs out of space, hinting the character he wasted about fifteen pages on throughout the series will be a threat next time, not this time. And there is no next time. The editor really should have asked for an outline.

The issue opens like a dream sequence, where everything’s going to be okay and then Natasha will wake up from a drug-induced delusion. Only she doesn’t wake up. The calvary arrives and it looks ludicrous—Daredevil running around in broad daylight, the blond Black Widow accessorizing her rescue gear—another sign Morgan stopped caring, if he ever did about this series.

He gets it to a mildly honest final moment (borrowing from The Terminator no less), but it’s not enough.

CREDITS

Welcome to the Game; writer, Richard K. Morgan; penciller, Sean Phillips; inker, Bill Sienkiewicz; colorist, Dan Brown; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Cory Sedlmeier and Jennifer Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 5 (February 2006)

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It’s not an all-action issue, instead Morgan creates the all-torture issue. Well, okay, he’s got a scene with the blond Black Widow saving Daredevil and another one with Black Widow’s sidekick, but basically the entire issue is just Natasha either being tortured or about to be tortured.

Oddly, the torture isn’t what drives the comic (and presumably the series) off the rails. It’s the pacing. Nothing happens this issue. Nothing gets resolved from last issue. Morgan’s just dragging it out. It’s like he needed one more issue of the last series so instead Marvel gave him six.

There’s something incredibly defeatist about it too. As good as Morgan writes Natasha, he doesn’t spend any time writing Yelena (blond Black Widow) well. He writes her as a self-aware bimbo, like if “Sex and the City” met superheroes.

It’s a disaster; I didn’t even pay attention to the art.

CREDITS

Do You Feel Better Now?; writer, Richard K. Morgan; penciller, Sean Phillips; inker, Bill Sienkiewicz; colorist, Dan Brown; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Cory Sedlmeier and Jennifer Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 4 (February 2006)

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I think I just remembered how this series ends. I think it’s with a big, unresolvable cliffhanger.

Unfortunate.

Anyway, this issue’s pretty good. It’s an all-action issue—Natasha goes and gets her sidekick from the South American work farm. There’s also another big Daredevil scene with Nick Fury—Matt beats up a bunch of guys—and it’s where Morgan is setting up the eventual series cliffhanger.

The art is off again. It’s the faces. They aren’t Sienkiewicz faces here, they’re a strange amalgam.

The issue opens with those bad faces and it’s this scene setting up yet another plot thread. I guess the series did open with it, so it’s not a setup, but Morgan hasn’t done anything with it since the first issue.

This Black Widow series might be the perfect example of why you shouldn’t do a sequel to a good limited series; they don’t necessarily work.

CREDITS

Women and Children First; writer, Richard K. Morgan; penciller, Sean Phillips; inker, Bill Sienkiewicz; colorist, Dan Brown; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Cory Sedlmeier and Jennifer Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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