Black Market 2 (August 2014)

Black Market #2

Two issues into a four issue limited series and I can't figure out why I'm supposed to be reading the comic. Barbiere's writing is–at best–mediocre. Not because there's anything particularly wrong with it, but because there's nothing particularly good about it. He's not just not doing anything original, he's not even trying to be imaginative. He's got his hook, he's running with it and he doesn't mind it being highly derivative.

Santos's art continues to be the comic's redeeming factor, especially since Barbiere gives him an action sequence or two this time. Santos makes the chase sequence, which goes on too long as far as writing, work out beautifully. Though it is Barbiere who comes up with the strong conclusion to the chase.

If Black Market had anything distinctive to it–besides Santos's art–it might be something significant. Or at least compelling. It'd be nice if it were compelling for once.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Frank J. Barbiere; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Adam Metcalfe; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Chris Rosa and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Black Market 1 (July 2014)

Black Market #1

I’m not sure if I’d say Black Market has a charm to it. Writer Frank J. Barbiere does have a big twist at the end, but he’s telling the story in two time periods a few months apart. Having a good twist and being able to do something with it for the rest of the series are two different things.

Here, he has his main character getting into the illegal superhero DNA trade; he shows the character before and after this life of crime. If it weren’t for Victor Santos’s art, it wouldn’t work at all. Santos is the one who makes the protagonist–Ray–sympathetic. Barbiere just gives him a sob story and a manipulative older brother. It’s Santos who makes the guy’s world seem real.

Because of the two timelines, the pacing is awkward; Barbiere doesn’t balance things well. But that end twist and Santos make it worth a look.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Frank J. Barbiere; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Adam Metcalfe; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Chris Rosa and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The White Suits 1 (February 2014)

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I’m trying to imagine worse writing than Frank J. Barbiere’s dialogue in The White Suits. There’s got to be some out there but it’s so shockingly terrible, my mind is clouded over. Lines from this issue repeat themselves, kind of like a hammer to the temple.

And it’s a shame, because Toby Cypress does a really solid Paul Pope impression. I can’t say he’s Pope-lite, like a lot of people these days, because much of his detail work is an impression. His dollar bills look like Pope’s dollar bills in One Trick. But whatever, Cypress makes it all look good.

I actually thought the art would make the book tolerable. Like it could somehow overshadow the lousy writing. It can’t.

I’m beginning to think all these highly affected dialogue and narration styles are just to hide the bankruptcy of ideas. Suits’s Dark Horse; I inexplicably expected more from them.

D- 

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Frank J. Barbiere; artist and colorist, Toby Cypress; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Robocop: Memento Mori 1 (February 2014)

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Is Memento Mori the best of Boom!’s terrible Robocop remake tie-ins? Maybe. It’s definitely the first one where the art engaged. João Vieira has the appearance of an interesting style. Cartoonish, almost. He really doesn’t–he just fakes it on the good panels and the rest are really pedestrian. But until one figures out the art, it does keep the mind occupied.

Speaking of minds and occupation, Mori is the story of Alex Murphy, human cop, as the doctors wipe his memory to install Robocop. Frank J. Barbiere apes countless tv shows, comic books and movies as Murphy runs through his subconscious trying to survive. It’s hideously unoriginal and completely nonsensical. Barbiere fakes having a point to the story.

But the comic does read quickly and one forgives the art problems and the unoriginality as things move along. Barbiere manages to promise something engaging… and fails to deliver.

D 

CREDITS

Writer, Frank J. Barbiere; artist, João Vieira; colorist, Ruth Redmond; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer, Ian Brill and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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