Arclight 4 (January 2017)

Arclight #4

Yeah, Brandon Graham really doesn’t know how to wrap up a comic, does he? Arclight meanders to a finish of sorts, with almost no content this issue. Churchland’s art is lovely, but it’s all over the place. Not enough information is the big problem. It’s decompressed storytelling or something. The Brandon Graham version. And it’s over too soon. There’s not enough of a finish here.

CREDITS

Writer, Brandon Graham; artist and colorist, Marian Churchland; letterer, Ariana Maher; publisher, Image Comics.

Arclight 3 (November 2016)

Arclight #3

Arclight isn’t just back, Arclight is back and pretty great. There’s a lot of content, thanks to how Marian Churchland paces and composes the art. And Brandon Graham’s terse exposition is fantastic. It feels magical and dangerous and big. Churchland’s art is perfect for big, empty, and dangerous. Graham’s strange organic, magic creatures are imaginative and always used measuredly. It’s almost reassuring in its excellence.

CREDITS

Writer, Brandon Graham; artist and colorist, Marian Churchland; letterer, Ariana Maher; publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet Earth War 6 (November 2016)

Prophet Earth War #6

Graham and Roy finish Prophet with a weak, manipulative finale. Rushed art and an action movie fight scene. It’s decidedly lacking in ambition. Then they exit by pulling on the longtime reader’s heartstrings, but it’s too little, way too late. It’s a shame what happened to Prophet.

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Roy, Giannis Milonogiannis, Grim Wilkins and Graham; colorists, Joseph Bergin II, Graham and Lin Visel; letterer, Ed Brisson; publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet Earth War 5 (July 2016)

Prophet Earth War #5

This issue of Earth War feels a little like Prophet-lite. At least writers Graham and Roy know where they should be focusing their attention this issue–there’s three plot lines at least, including the tedious Earth War itself–but they don’t have enough space. The story is way too rushed. It’s the Earth War version of a bridging issue. A bunch of fast paced nonsense to move some characters around while doing some expository somewhere else.

And then there’s the art–there are four different artists and no rhyme or reason to what they’re handling. It looks like Prophet art (because it’s by a bunch of great Prophet artists), but not under close inspection. There’s no detail, there’s no joy. Everyone on Earth War is just trying to get it finished, which is unfortunate, because there’s still some great possibilities in the comic.

There’s a page filling backup–I was kind of hoping the issue would keep going to get towards the end of the series faster (the Earth War stuff is really frustrating, Graham and Roy race through it so fast there’s negative personality). As someone how loved nearly every issue of the Prophet series, I just want Earth War to finish without damaging the original’s legacy….

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Graham, Grim Wilkins, Giannis Milonogiannis and Jenna Trost; colorists, Joseph Bergin II, Lin Visel and Graham; letterer, Ariana Maher; back up story, Mike McGhee; publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet Earth War 4 (May 2016)

Prophet Earth War #4

This issue of Prophet Earth War isn’t the best of the series so far but it’s far from the worst. The front half, which summarizes various warring elements, slogs along a little. But there’s great art from Giannis Milonogiannis, Simon Roy and Grim Wilkins, who manages to make Earth War feel more like Prophet than ever before. Yes, the titular Earth War is incredibly lame so far, but at least the art matches Graham and Roy’s tone for the issue.

Where the issue takes off is in the second half and not just because there’s the romance between Diehard and Rein, because it doesn’t figure into this issue at all. But it is because there’s some humor to the characters, some gentleness, a whole lot of personality. It’s not just the characters, it’s the pacing.

Graham and Roy give their characters a solvable, difficult problem and they have to solve it. There’s a bunch of danger and some humor. There’s a self-awareness to the writing, an enjoyment of the moment. Prophet is at its best when Graham wants to see something expertly visualized. It’s not about being wowed by scenery, it’s about being wowed by how things exist and interact with that scenery.

Really impressive art from Ian Macewan on this issue’s backup. It’s another part of some future thing with a heist and a lot of bland characters. Witzke’s script is fine for a backup, but there’s nothing compelling. Except Macewan’s good art.

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Giannis Milonogiannis, Roy and Grim Wilkins; colorists, Joseph Bergin III and Lin Visel; letterer, Ariana Maher. Back up story, The Azimuth Job; writer, Sean Witzke; artist, Ian Macewan; colorist, Sloane Leong. Publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet Earth War 3 (April 2016)

Prophet Earth War 3

There’s something inexplicable about this issue of Prophet Earth War. It doesn’t redeem the series or correct the trajectory or make up for a bad ending to the previous series, but it does reward the reader for sticking through. Like it’s nothing, writers Graham and Roy tell a rather good issue of Prophet about Rein and Diehard. It’s during the Earth War thing, but it’s also a return to that beautiful storytelling, that magical storytelling, this series once had.

This issue isn’t as great as I want it to be. It runs a little long, Graham and Roy waste some pages before they get to the personality. The Grim Wilkins art is fantastic though, so it appeals to the visual imagination. It’s a wonderful world Wilkins renders, full of strange life, perfectly complimenting Graham and Roy’s exposition.

It’s a solid effort, sincere, careful, reserved. Graham and Roy never go too far. There’s such a sadness about the characters, even when they’re laughing or happy, there is always a sadness. As a Prophet fan–even though I forgot what it meant to be a Prophet fan–I love this issue. Is it so bad to wish it was always this good, Earth War or not?

The backup, from Sean Witzka and Ian Macewan, is fine. It’s a future heist thing with a Paris Hilton knock-off and a decent Alien reference. Macewan’s art is excellent. He fits in a lot of procedural detail while maintaining a fun personality for the characters. Witzka’s script is a tad boring. So much exposition. So many narrators.

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artist, Grim Wilkins; colorists, Joseph Bergin III and Lin Visel; letterer, Ed Brisson. Back up story, The Azimuth Job; writer, Sean Witzke; artist, Ian Macewan; colorist, Sloane Leong. Publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet Earth War 2 (March 2016)

Prophet: Earth War #2

What is this comic? It’s definitely a Prophet comic. It reminds of when Graham and Roy would follow up some great issue with an inexplicable, but also great, fill-in. Only this issue of Earth War isn’t great. It’s all around pedestrian, which is a painful thing to say but… less painful than the comic (at least in the context of Prophet overall).

The story is simple. There’s one of the bad guy John Prophets who decides to kill all the Earth Mothers. So he does. There’s a little more to it, but not much. The issue is a series of fight scenes with minimal exposition and even less character. Nothing interesting about the setting. The backup tries to compensate for the feature’s lack of exploration, but it’s too little, too late.

Eventually, the one really bad ass Earth Mother comes to Earth to fight the bad John Prophet, who was multiple arms and looks more like a Rob Liefeld creation than anything in the comic, which is a Liefeld creation, has to date. I’m using “Liefeld creation” as a pejorative (hopefully the tone made it clear).

Now for the even more unpleasant part. Ron Ackins’s art. It appears painted (but I don’t think it is actually painted) and it’s a bad fit for Prophet. Earth War sort of feels like Prophet Lite and the lack of detail in the art enables that negative sentiment. There’s a dullness when Prophet needs to be sharp.

The aforementioned backup, with art from Aaron Conley and a script by Shannon Lentz, is at least an attempt at a Prophet tale. It’s detailed, it’s got intricate exposition, it’s gross. But it’s also not enough.

Earth War feels lost.

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Ron Ackins; colorists, Paul Davey and Ackins; letterer, Ed Brisson. Back up story, The Shape of Tools to Come; writer, Shannon Lentz; artist, Aaron Conley; colorist, Joseph Bergin II. Publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet Earth War 1 (January 2016)

Prophet Earth War #1

Prophet. Earth War. Finally.

After months of waiting, how is it?

It’s eh. Prophet Earth War is eh.

Writers Brandon Graham and Simon Roy stubbornly ignore characters, ignore anything except expositional dialogue. They really want readers to understand what’s going on. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why. If you aren’t already a Prophet reader, Earth War isn’t going to convert you. Setting the action on a desolate planet (kind of like where Kirk fought the Gorn) is real boring.

The artists–Giannis Milongiannis and Roy–pack each page; there’s no grand Prophet panels here. It’s overpacked. Nothing gets enough space.

And Old John Prophet and Young John Prophet. They don’t have any chemistry. Graham and Roy try to force it throughout the issue, but there’s just no spark. They stand around and talk about the prospect of battle; it’s mostly talking heads. And it’s a bore.

It’s also an improvement over the last Prophet, however long ago, so hopefully the uptick continues.

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Giannis Milonogiannis and Roy; colorists, Joseph Bergin II and Lin Visel; letterer, Ed Brisson; back up story, Sarah Horrocks; publisher, Image Comics.

8house 3 (September 2015)

8house #3

Should it go without saying 8house is a little weird? Is there some expectation of weirdness just from the title itself; Brandon Graham’s involvement alone probably should account for some of that weirdness.

This issue starts a new story, Kiem. The protagonist is a soldier on a desolate planet where the soldiers do a mind-transfer into a organic-mechanical (presumably… it is Graham, after all) mech and they battle. Only Kiem has a different mission.

Graham gets co-writer credit; Xurxo G. Penalta also does the art. The art’s real good. Penalta gets lost in panels, which encourages the reader to do the same.

Most of the issue is a big lead-in to the “twist” and it’s not the most original sci-fi as far as the narrative details. Penalta’s rendering of this planet is the draw, along with he and Graham putting solid thought into the characters. But comic ends with Kiem sort of soft-booting itself for the next one; hopefully Penalta and Graham’s story has some connections to the details in the first half of this issue, otherwise why read it.

Except the gorgeous art, of course.

CREDITS

Kiem, Part One; writers, Brandon Graham and Xurxo G. Penalta; artist, Penalta; publisher, Image Comics.

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