Cluster 6 (August 2015)

Cluster #6

I wish I enjoyed Cluster.

I like Couceiro’s art. But his sci-fi setting for Cluster is the same generic sci-fi setting with space troopers as Aliens or Starship Troopers. There’s nothing interesting about it. Some of the stuff with the aliens is good, but Brisson spends his time on the humans, so it’s background.

And I like Brisson’s writing. It’s all very competent, but it’s nothing special. The protagonist has gotten lost so Brisson could get to the space revolutionaries and so on. But he doesn’t spend much time on the revolution or anything else. Cluster is too fragmented, Brisson has too many subplots fueling the main plot. There isn’t enough time to care about anything.

Except the characters he’s already killed. They were more memorable than any of the new ones he’s introducing.

Brisson and Couceiro can keep Cluster running in competence, but they’re getting bad mileage.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Cassie Kelly; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster 5 (July 2015)

Cluster #5

I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with Cluster. There’s definitely something off about it because I should be gleefully anticipating a monthly dose of Brisson and Couceiro.

I think I’ve got it too–Cluster isn’t good as an episodic, serialized read. It might do better in trade, but Brisson’s got too many characters without enough history for them to be interesting in a monthly. I don’t even care the protagonist has been turned into a cyborg. She’s just not compelling enough. And poor Couceiro doesn’t get enough cool things to illustrate. This issue it’s mostly the jail.

Who cares. A future prison planet. Unless Cluster’s future prison planet is made out of plants, which it isn’t, there’s not much to do with that setting.

I like the idea of Cluster and I like some of Brisson’s writing, some of Couceiro’s art, but I’m forcing myself to read it.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Cassie Kelly; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster 4 (May 2015)

Cluster #4

Brisson picks a really weird place to do a cliffhanger this issue. It’s the most predictable spot–so predictable, it doesn’t even constitute an actual cliffhanger anymore. He spends the entire issue counting down to a plot point and then ends with that plot point. Literally counting down.

Other than that big, awkward finish–maybe it’s not even a fail, it’s like Brisson forgot to assemble the issue’s flashback framing correctly because the alien prison planet stuff is so much more interesting. But other than it, the issue’s pretty strong. There’s some useless (i.e. too supporting) character stuff and some of the tone doesn’t match Couceiro’s very sci-fi art, but it’s a good issue.

Couceiro has some problems with the battling spaceships and all, but he’s not really a machines versus machines kind of artist. The human stuff works, even when it’s too predictable.

It’s a good mixed bag.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster 3 (April 2015)

Cluster #3

This issue of Cluster has a few successes. Most prominently, the cliffhanger revelation is pretty neat. Brisson successfully leads the reader down a garden path before the twist, which is a significant one. Maybe not overall for the series, but definitely for the issue.

And Cluster still operates on a “by issue” basis. Brisson hasn’t, three issues in, implied how long or where the story might be going. It’s moving fast, but recklessly. One hopes Brisson has replacements for the things he gives up in this story; there are quite a few.

Similarly, Couceiro gives up a lot of detail (people’s faces in long shots are consistently left undone) to make time for the detail on the alien settlement. But the alien settlement stuff isn’t important. Couceiro doesn’t even get enough space for the issue’s action scenes.

The issue ends well, but it’s a rocky trip to the last page.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster 2 (March 2015)

Cluster #2

There’s some nice development with Cluster this issue, but Brisson doesn’t have a good close for the issue. He seems to know it’s a problem because he goes into a flashback and shows another scene of the protagonist back when she was a partying socialite and not a prisoner.

Much of that nice development comes from Couceiro’s influence. Brisson gives him some opportunity for good character interactions–and some very complicated ones–and Couceiro runs with it. The personality they give the characters plays out nicely in quiet ways throughout the rest of the issue. Even if the cast isn’t being explained, Brisson and Couceiro are definitely making the reader more comfortable with them.

Brisson doesn’t plot out the action well, however. He rushes; he rushes the characters, he rushes the story, he rushes Couceiro. Cluster is a visually fantastic sci-fi comic without time to focus on the visuals.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster 1 (February 2015)

Cluster #1

There’s not much original in Cluster so far. It’s a remix of a lot of sci-fi, popular and not, but writer Ed Brisson manages to coat over all those elements because the story isn’t derivative, the details aren’t homage, they’re just part of the sci-fi language now. Of course there’s something out of BattleTech in Cluster. Why wouldn’t there be?

The first issue introduces the protagonist, who doesn’t have a memorable name, but is a politician’s daughter serving hard time fighting for a colony planet. She makes a sidekick (not friend) and gets into a fight and goes to solitary. Then goes out on a mission.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense at times–the way Brisson paces it–but it doesn’t matter. Because Damian Couceiro’s art is awesome. He goes for big scale sci-fi, but still within the constraints of a comic book.

Cluster‘s solid.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 14 (October 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #14

Brisson wraps up the arc wonderfully. Everything comes to a collision, there's lots and lots of action, lots and lots of violence. So much violence and action, in fact, it becomes very hard to follow the art. Couceiro just has too many bikers to draw and Michael Spicer's colors are so dark, it's difficult to keep them apart.

So, even though Couceiro's art is strong as usual, it's the reason the issue isn't a total success. Too many pages have to ride on momentum to get through the visual confusion. Brisson has reminders throughout scenes and so on–and the cuts back and forth between sets of characters is good–but there are just too many players in motion. Eventually, people start getting lost.

But it all does wrap up and it's impressive how Brisson makes it happen. He intricately plots these arcs and the pay-off makes it all worthwhile.

Great comics.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 13 (September 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #13

So much talking. And Couceiro does a great job with all that talking, but the issue consists of four or five conversations and one suggestive last page. I can't remember but it might be the first time Brisson's done a bridging issue on Sons of Anarchy. Maybe not, but certainly never so deliberate as this one.

Worse, the principal conversation is recapping events the reader already knows about. Jax and the regular cast members have been guest starring in this arc, but here Brisson brings them up to a lead status… only there had to be a better way than the recap. The conversation just goes on and on.

But, like I said, Couceiro's art is fantastic throughout and he does keep those conversations moving. And Brisson's dialogue is good, it's just too much build-up. The arc, which is definitely different, is now lagging.

Brisson should wrap it fine though.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 12 (August 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #12

Brisson sure does have a complicated situation setup. Not bad complicated, good complicated. The regular Sons members are still supporting cast and maybe even moreso with Brisson introducing the father of a guy who died in a meth lab. Either this new character is going to be a long-term player in the arc or short-term but the way Brisson is weaving the plot strands is phenomenal.

There are three subplots and none of them have to do with the Sons of Anarchy, regular or guest starring. Instead, they’re to emphasize the villains. With a different writer, it might give the titular characters less to do, but Brisson still drives the main plot through SAMTAZ and its dealing with the bad guys.

The comic continues–with Couceiro’s as usual excellent art–to be an oddity of a licensed property. Brisson, Couceiro and BOOM! are unfailingly ambitious with the comic.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 11 (July 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #11

I thought this issue might just be okay–good, but not startling. Then Brisson does a big double ante finish with a surprise or two. He foreshadows them both, but discreetly enough they aren’t predictable. He’s got a loose focus on the cast this issue–the regular Anarchy club members are practically guest stars–and it lets him get away with a lot.

This arc is apparently set in Arizona and involves another biker gang trying to expand their meth empire. The local SAMTAZ chapter gets drug into it, the regular cast just happen to be visiting. It’s not an engaging situation in and of itself, but the way Brisson plots it makes it compelling.

Of course, Couceiro’s art is an essential part of the series’s success. He’s able to go between the action set pieces and the talking heads without missing a beat. His realism makes the outrageous believable.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 10 (June 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #10

I'm trying to come up with a phrase to describe Sons of Anarchy–amoral entertainment, the amorality of entertainment. The problem with those two phrases are they're something difference, even if the vocabulary is similar.

With this issue of Anarchy, Brisson does a couple big things. First, he turns in one of the best licensed comics I've ever read–he and Couceiro do phenomenal work here. Couceiro's art is just getting better and better.

Second, Brisson plays with the idea of plot structure and epilogues and what goes where. Without the epilogue, this story isn't an action story, it's the story of these criminals working out a deal to stay alive in prison. Brisson tells this tale compellingly, but it's got a short present action and it's not all that big.

Until the epilogue, which I wasn't even expecting because Brisson paces so well.

Anarchy is getting to be a singular comic.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 9 (May 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #9

Here’s the problem with Sons of Anarchy, at least how Brisson is pacing it. It’s a licensed comic with a not comic shop traditional audience so Brisson is pacing it for a collection. It makes this issue really frustrating because of the cliffhanger. Brisson does well building up his story for the unfamiliar reader, so he or she is invested in the plot, not the characters.

And it’s a really good plot. The stuff in prison isn’t anywhere near as interesting as how things play out on the outside. The action in the prison just can’t compete, not with a fantastic multi-part Couceiro chase sequence at the end of the issue.

What’s particularly nice is the texture Brisson gives the scenes. Sure, he gets some mileage out of getting to use well-established characters, but there’s a lot of implied depth. It keeps the series lean but also not.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 8 (April 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #8

There’s a lot of lovely art this issue. It’s a hard story–most of the leads are in jail, the women are being threatened on the outside, but Damian Couceiro–with the able help of colorist Michael Spicer–manages to embrace the hardness while still being stylishly appealing. About the only time the art doesn’t work is when there’s too much artificial pacing to it, like for the cliffhanger.

Ed Brisson’s script moves nicely between prison and the outside world. He focuses on the characters, leaving himself a little space for tension relieving humor, but Sons of Anarchy is a serious book without room for much in the way of jokes. It’s still a very odd licensed property but Boom! executes it well.

Again, I still haven’t seen the show, yet Brisson’s able to get the reader immediately engaged with the characters and their troubles.

It just ends too fast.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 6 (February 2014)

SonsOfAnarchy 06 rev 1

This issue isn’t just all action, it’s basically all action down a short stretch of highway. There are some flashbacks and interludes, but really, it’s just three action sequences. First, the club gets ambushed–that one might be a cliffhanger resolution–then the girl and her protector go on down the highway a bit and the other guys in the club continue the shoot out. Then the girl and her protector get into a fight with the angry motorcycle guy.

And even though no one’s in danger–it’s a licensed comic, after all, are they going to kill a regular cast member–Golden and Couceiro sell it. There are some really confusing panels in the second shoot out because the good guys and the bad guys generally look alike, but Couceiro brings it all together for the finish.

It’s shocking what solid reading this book has turned out to be.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Golden; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 5 (January 2014)

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It’s an all action issue. I’m not sure there’s time for anything else in this series besides action. At best a page or two, here and there, with the characters preparing for their eventual participation in the action. It’s good and pulpy.

One definite standout is the color from Stephen Downer; whoever decided to make the blood blue to make it stand out (there’s still red blood around… oceans of it), whether it was Downer or the editor or whoever, it’s a good choice. It draws attention to the violence, it makes the danger vibrant.

But it’s hard to say how well Golden can wrap this whole thing up. He’s got his major plots, but all the subplots have fallen away. It’s doesn’t feel like episodic but it also doesn’t feel like the girl on the run’s story.

Still, it’s definitely a good read for a licensed comic. Just slight.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Golden; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 4 (December 2013)

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This issue is heavy on the action. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be heavy on the action, but it definitely ends up that way. Couceiro does a great job toggling between action and talking heads. It’s the way he paces the sequences–somehow he uses the same pace for both talking and action. Works out well.

It’s kind of a bridging issue. Golden reveals a few things, checks in on his subplots, but it’s all just to get the characters to the place they need to be for the next issue. Given many of the characters are traveling, it’d be nice if things were tied to location. Sadly they aren’t.

Still, it’s a good issue. Golden and Couceiro turn in a sturdy comic book, the cliffhanger manages to be inevitable but unexpected. However, it does seem a little like Golden has started to pad out the series’s issues.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Golden; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inkers, Couceiro and Emilio Lecce; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 3 (November 2013)

SOA 03 rev  dragged

Golden goes an interesting route with this issue. He takes almost the entire issue to resolve last issue’s cliffhanger–he also explains why the guy who betrays SAMCRO does so in an almost too action-packed flashback. The cliffhanger resolution’s pretty simple….

The worst thing happens. Well, maybe not the worst. But Golden doesn’t give the cast a last minute save. He lays out the foreshadowing and then he delivers on it. It changes one’s expectations of where Golden’s willing to take the comic.

He does fill in way too much exposition though. The comic’s bursting with new characters to remember–most of them are just important names, not even on page–and it’s a lot to digest. Golden simplifies it a little bit towards the end, but an exposition recap of the too much exposition seems like a bad device.

Still, it’s solid. The soft cliffhanger’s a good one.

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Golden; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inkers, Couceiro and Emilio Lecce; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 2 (October 2013)

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Golden might have written himself into a corner with this issue’s soft cliffhanger. It might deal with too much continuity from the source television show for a fresh comic reader to pick it up.

Otherwise, though, it’s a good issue. Golden sticks with his female character who’s looking for help from SAMCRO. There’s a big flashback sequence, where Golden jumps between viewpoints a little but it’s fine–he makes sure Anarchy feels like a television episode. There’s action in the flashback, then bad action in some other flashbacks and asides.

By bad action I don’t mean Couceiro does a bad job with it, I mean it’s very unpleasant stuff. Not a gun fight, bad people doing bad things to helpless people bad. Somehow Couceiro manages not to make it too rough.

In fact, I’m not sure there’s any cursing in the comic.

Very curious to see what Golden does next.

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Golden; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 1 (September 2013)

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It’s a little too soon to tell how Sons of Anarchy, one of the more unlikely licensed comics one can imagine, will pan out, but the first issue suggests it will go well.

Writer Christopher Golden is able to get a three act structure out of the issue; he straightforwardly introduces the regular cast, saving most of the flourish for his original characters in the story. A girl’s in trouble, has nowhere to go except to SAMCRO–I don’t even watch the show and Golden’s got me familiar with the vernacular.

In the meantime, there’s a bar fight with the regular cast, along with some nods to character development. Golden’s structure seems traditional enough–he’s introducing his series-long plot lines here while still delivering a solid single issue.

Damian Couceiro does an excellent job with the art. He toggles effortlessly between exposition, action and talking heads.

It’s surprisingly solid.

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Golden; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 12 (August 2013)

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So did Boom! cancel,Cataclysm, did the writers quit or did the license go away? Something obviously happened. This issue jumps three years ahead of the previous one, then another five years from where it opens.

Bechko and Hardman follow Professor Milo (from the second movie) so they can avoid having to have Charlton Heston appear. He gets a mention, but then they focus the issue on what was going on with the spaceship during the second movie. To explain the third, in other words.

It seems like the natural last issue for the series, but they seem to have jumped ahead quite a bit. Cast members from Cataclysm sort of pop in for cameos, but it’s much more a movie tie-in. It’s trying to logically explain what Heston only agreeing to second sequel if the world ended broke.

It’s well-written enough, but it’s a terrible last issue.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 11 (July 2013)

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Big reveals, small reveals. Along with the biggest of them all–the twelfth issue is the finale, something I didn’t realize.

Bechko and Hardman have always have problems with their Apes series because they’re direct–sort of direct–prequels to the first movie and they still haven’t really got everything set up. The ape society is still too… believable. The movie didn’t have a believable thing going on. Bechko and Hardman are moving towards something similar to it, but haven’t gotten close yet.

They do resolve the talking human and a lot of the political intrigue, but none of it plays particularly well. They give Couceiro way too much to do in the second half of the issue. The riot scene and its resolution could have actually been an issue on its own. There’s just not room for it here.

The comic’s got its strong points, but it’s definitely stumbling.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 10 (June 2013)

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Maybe killing the talking human is why Cornelius doesn’t remember her when Chuck Heston shows up, but it’s hard to say. But she doesn’t die this issue, just gets her throat slit. Meaning maybe her vocal cords are damaged… which seems like it’s been in an Apes comic somewhere before.

The problem with this issue is boredom. Bechko and Hardman don’t have anything exciting going on, no exploration, just politics. Oh, and they bring back some guys from the series before Cataclysm. They just don’t recap it so the whole reveal confuses.

Couceiro’s art is still excellent, he just doesn’t have anything good to draw here. It’s not like when he doesn’t have a lot, here he simply doesn’t have anything new or challenging.

The writers have reached a point where all they have left is the political intrigue plot line and it’s not enough to keep the series running.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 9 (May 2013)

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I can’t believe I’m going to make this statement–Bechko and Hardman are playing too loose with Apes movie continuity. I don’t even like the movies. But they’ve got a talking human here eight years before Charlton Heston shows up and Cornelius sees and hears her.

Kind of changes things up.

As an issue, of course, it’s fine enough. The writers don’t give Couceiro much interesting to draw, but he does well with what he’s got. All the mundane story stuff is just because it’s a bridging issue.

Let’s see–they set up Zira ready to revolt, Mrs. Zaius with a master plan for peace and then the talking human. It’s a lot of setup without any payoff whatsoever. Ergo, a bridging issue.

I’m confident Bechko and Hardman know what they’re doing, I’m just used to them having an engaging A plot in each issue. Here it’s talk, talk, talk.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 8 (April 2013)

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The story arc, so far as it involves the ape expedition to the valley–I’m liking Bechko and Hardman not getting locked into actual titled arcs–comes to a close.

There are a lot of surprises. One of them is somewhat confusing, as it either should have been clear and wasn’t due to the art or it was never supposed to be clear. I feel like Couceiro could have handled it, so it must be a writing thing. There’s such a thing as being too subtle.

But the surprises are otherwise pretty good revelations. The writers know how to pace these things well, which I’m always saying about them. Cataclysm is never a slight, fast read.

The other subplots don’t have much going on. Zaius and Zira’s subplots start their inevitable dance; at the end of the issue, Cornelius cuts in for a soft cliffhanger.

The series continues to impress.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 7 (March 2013)

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It’s funny how the Zaius subplot is actually where Bechko and Hardman have the most problems, even though it’s mostly a talking heads subplot. They’re keeping the Zaius subplot… well, it’s kind of the soil. It feeds into the other two plots and presumably could make major changes for them when they all collide. But it’s separate; the Zira subplot is separate too, but it won’t affect anything.

And the writers just can’t make it interesting. Zaius is impotent and too proud to listen to his wife, who actually knows what she’s talking about. One has to wonder who made that decision, Bechko or Hardman.

The Zira subplot this issue features a community meeting, not particularly interesting, but there are some really nice character moments. Cataclysm works because of these details from the writers.

The Cornelius subplot is action-packed and exciting. Great visuals from Couicero and Taibo help lots.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 6 (February 2013)

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As far as expansive mythology goes, Planet of the Apes doesn’t have much. The standards repeat themselves very quickly. But Beckho and Hardman manage to repeat one of those very same standards and hide it all until the final reveal. They raise all sorts of other possibilities–this issue of Cataclysm, almost against itself, has a lot of adventure to it–and then reveal something extremely logical.

The writers keep their three way split. Zaius gets his own subplot (having his wife school him is awesome), Zira gets her own and then Cornelius–with Dr. Milo along–gets a third. There’s also Zaius’s son, who figures into the Cornelius plot; he’s not a lead, but he’s close.

The only real problem is an art one and penciller Damian Couceiro–with Mariano Taibo ably inking–can’t fix. The chimps look alike. I kept confusing Cornelius and Milo.

Otherwise, it’s fine stuff.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 5 (January 2013)

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Bechko and Hardman continue their setup for the first Planet of the Apes movie with… well, I guess it’s kind of a post-disaster story. They’ve introduced all of the primary apes from the first movies, except maybe the nasty gorilla from the second one, and are doing a mundane prequel.

There’s action, sure. There’s a giant mutated bear or some such thing. Couceiro illustrates a fantastic action sequence involving it attacking the apes journeying to a different settlement. There’s a lot of content in this issue–the writers band together this team of explorers and introduce their mission in the first two thirds of the issue, while dealing with some other things, then send them off.

Not all of the writers’ choices are good ones. The food shortage and the greedy gorillas feel forced. But there’s a great scene with Milo the scientist to compensate.

It’s still surprisingly okay.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 4 (December 2012)

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Are you kidding me? The grand reveal is so obvious I had it figured a page into the sequence.

Bechko and Hardman–and I know I’ve complimented them on their adherence to Apes movie mythology–try way too hard to bring everything together with Cataclysm. They fail, most obviously, because they leave it with it with a cliffhanger for their next series, but they also fail for the lack of imagination.

The point of licensed properties is to expand on the canon. Bechko and Hardman instead wrap it in on itself. They use Cataclysm to tie the first movie to the second and the fifth to the first. Except they use their comic to validate the bad ideas in the movies, not emphasize the good.

Again, the writing’s fine on the scenic level and Couceiro’s art’s fantastic–this issue might even be his best. But the plot’s pointless and contrived.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 3 (November 2012)

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Boom! needs better editors. Maybe they just didn’t want to piss off Hardman, who’s very high profile even if he is just writing the book, but someone should have–strike that one, needed to–tell he and Bechko not to fake a subplot. The issue opens with the revelation of a great conspiracy. The issue’s big moments all deal with its repercussions and it’s a weak move.

Otherwise, the issue isn’t bad. It’s relatively engaging, with the writers’ disaster situations being compelling enough. They do fail Couceiro, however. They don’t give him time to properly establish the setting. The art looks great, but the ape civilization never feels fully realized.

The series started pretty strong and it’s still very well-done, only it misses the mark a lot. Couceiro deserves a lot better material; Bechko and Hardman definitely take the Apes property seriously, they just need some help with structure.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 2 (October 2012)

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With Cataclysm‘s second issue, Bechko and Hardman run into a predictable problem. They’re explaining something about a licensed property. In this issue, the reader learns why the ape civilization changes so much in the original Apes movies. So what? They don’t create any memorable characters–even returning cast like Dr. Zaius isn’t used as the protagonist; he’s just part of the disaster movie cast they’ve got going on.

Bechko and Hardman take twenty-two pages to do what they could have in four or five. Couceiro’s art is excellent, but having good art doesn’t excuse the wasted pages. He does come up with some stunning disaster imagery, however, especially as it ties into the familiar Apes visual mythology.

One can’t fault Cataclysm as a piece of licensed property–the team does an outstanding job tying into Apes. Bechko and Hardman just don’t have any story for an actual comic book.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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