Fu Jitsu #5 (February 2018)

Fu Jitsu #5

It’s a fine finish to the arc, which then turns out to be the series. For now. Apparently Aftershock is being conservative in how many issues they give a series. So Fu Jitsu comes to its end. Hopefully to return.

Nitz and St. Claire do almost an issue-long fight scene between Fu and his nemesis, Wadlow. Rachel, Fu’s android ex-lover, cheers Fu on. She also tells him a big secret, which gives the story some immediate layers as the showdown between Fu and Wadlow goes on.

It’s a fast, surprising, smart comic. St. Claire’s art is good–the visuals on Fu’s kung fu and all the mystical but science tech are cool. Nitz knows how to write the talking fight scene too, the adversarial banter.

If it weren’t for the warning there might not be any more Fu Jitsu, even with a more serious than expected finish, the comic would go out swimmingly. Nitz includes a teaser, presumably to encourage interest in a second series, but it’s way too extra.

Other than that inclusion, Fu Jitsu #5 is everything it should be.

CREDITS

Curse of the Atomic Katana, Part Five; writer, Jai Nitz; artist, Wesley St. Claire; letterer, Ryane Hill; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, Aftershock Comics.

Fu Jitsu #4 (December 2017)

Fu Jitsu #4

St. Claire’s art is feeling a little hurried this issue, but it’s still solid. And Fu Jitsu is still awesome. Nitz does this thing with quotes this issue. Every page there’s a text box with a quote. All sorts of sources, sometimes figuratively dealing with the page’s events, sometimes literally. It makes for a fantastic fight scene.

Because most of the issue is Wadlow fighting Fu Jitsu. Fu is in his kaiju-fighting giant robot. He’s got some tricks up his sleeve. Nitz has got some pop culture nods to make. Wadlow’s still got his goofy beard and atomic katana.

The quotes create the pace. Each page has to have something because it’s going to get a quote. That pace keeps the fight sequence going. It builds tension. Only Nitz keeps going with the quotes after the fight scene. He’s able to get a bunch of tension out of the soft cliffhanger build-up and it’s all because of the technical ability. There’s nothing in the story; Nitz is intentionally holding back.

And it’s fine. Fu Jitsu is like a present. Each issue is a new, welcome surprise.

CREDITS

Curse of the Atomic Katana, Part Four; writer, Jai Nitz; artist, Wesley St. Claire; colorist, Maria Santaolalla; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, Aftershock Comics.

Fu Jitsu 3 (November 2017)

Fu Jitsu #3

Nitz and St. Claire do a really fun flashback issue. Fu Jitsu when he was in a sixties spy duo, doing jobs for JFK. It’s cute. And it keeps being cute.

Fu narrates the flashback, recounting a previous meeting with evil Robert Wadlow, tallest man on earth. Fu’s kung fu powers are able to save the day, regardless of his silly cross between Robin and a newsboy costume. It’s nice to see Nitz confident enough in the Fu Jitsu concept to start exporing this early. There’s a closing bookend to bring the action to the present, because the flashback itself doesn’t lay any groundwork for it. Past Fu knowing Wadlow.

Nitz doesn’t have Fu narrate his history with Wadlow, he has him narrate his own history. It’s got broader expository goals, which means Nitz gets to do the interesting details with history. Fu was away from the planet for WWII, hence the technology improvements.

It’s cool. It’s well-thoughtout and it’s cool.

St. Claire’s art is good but the image filter they do to make the comic look retro doesn’t work. St. Claire’s panel layout isn’t early sixties. It pays quick homage, then moves on. The filter, unfortunately, remains.

CREDITS

Curse of the Atomic Katana, Part Three; writer, Jai Nitz; artist, Wesley St. Claire; colorist, Maria Santaolalla; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, Aftershock Comics.

Fu Jitsu 2 (October 2017)

Fu Jitsu #2

Nitz dumps information here. Just piles it on the reader, page after page. Fu isn’t just heart-broken over Rachel, his ex-girlfriend, she’s an android he created who fell in love with him and then out of it. She can shape shift (basically–it’s holographic something or another). They bicker as they try to save the world.

Fu’s enemy, Wadlow, has taken over the world. President Orrin Hatch surrenders to him–and typing those words just took a few years off my life–and the rest of the world capitulates easy. No one can stand up to his doomsday weapon. He wants to find Fu, but can’t, so he gets all of Fu’s enemies to hunt him down.

There’s a big fight scene at the end, with one big surprise, which Nitz and St. Claire admirably execute without fanfare, and then it’s cliffhanger.

Fu Juitsu is still in solid shape. This issue is just a lot, even though the story didn’t really go anywhere.

CREDITS

Curse of the Atomic Katana, Part Two; writer, Jai Nitz; artist, Wesley St. Claire; colorist, Maria Santaolalla; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, Aftershock Comics.

Fu Jitsu 1 (September 2017)

Fu Jitsu #1

Despite graphic violence and very high stakes (the end of the world), Fu Jitsu is a delight. The comic opens with Fu in an isolation tank in Antarctica. He’s the world’s oldest boy, clocking in at a hundred and twenty or so years, and he’s trying to get over a girl.

Writer Jai Nitz opens the book with Fu deciding it’s time to come up and have a burger and get on with life. Good thing too, since his arch-enemy has sent James Dean (who apparently didn’t die but because a bad guy super-assassin) to kill Fu. The bad guy, Wadlow, has escaped from the future and only Fu can stop him.

Wadlow gets a great villain monologue (and a couple amusing sidekick thugs). Fu gets a little less backstory, which is fine. Nitz has a lot of fun on Wadlow’s exposition and artist Wesley St. Claire beautifully visualizes the flashbacks. St. Claire also does well with Fu’s training regiment, which includes some kind of yoga and very tasty hamburgers. There’s a nice bit of panel design and composition, but also a lot of movement.

Got to have movement with the kung fu. And there’s lots of kung fu.

Fu Jitsu is off and running.

CREDITS

Curse of the Atomic Katana; writer, Jai Nitz; penciller, Wesley St. Claire; letterer, Ryane Hill; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, Aftershock Comics.

Dream Thief: Escape 4 (September 2014)

Dream Thief: Escape #4

Nitz closes up the limited with just enough good will. Galusha doesn’t hack the talking heads scenes any better than he does the action scenes and there are lots of both this issue. All of a sudden Dream Thief has these ineptly composed sequences, something the comic just can’t support.

The fault isn’t entirely Galusha’s either; Nitz seems like he’s ready for the Escape series to be done. He rushes through the big action finale, something he’s been promising for all four issues of this series and even hinted at during the first series. He hasn’t introduced much of a supporting cast this series and, as he closes it down, he’s setting Dream Thief up for a much different continuation.

And, thanks to Galusha’s unfamiliar–and inconsistent from page to page–art, it seems like a perfectly good idea.

It’s too bad this series wasn’t great, but good enough works.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist, Tadd Galusha; colorist, Tamra Bonvillain; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dream Thief: Escape 3 (August 2014)

Dram Thief: Escape #3

Things take an unexpected turn when John’s sidekick takes him hostage (after he’s been possessed). It’s a bit of a spin on the Dream Thief standard but Nitz also has a new artist on the book–Tadd Galusha–and everything feels a little different.

And not just because Galusha draws everyone too squat.

Nitz turns the possession into more of a gimmick than ever before this issue, even though there’s not a lot to do with it for a while. He forecasts the gimmick in the flashback, with John’s dad having a sweet moment with his family before rocketing from the house following an unintended snooze.

Galusha composes all the panels just fine… but he doesn’t have enough sense for the violence. While peculiarly stylistic, it feels unresponsive. Galusha doesn’t bring the series’s despondence (even if the script does) and the result is lacking.

It’s still pretty good, of course.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist, Tadd Galusha; colorist, Tamra Bonvillain; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dream Thief: Escape 2 (July 2014)

Dream Thief: Escape #2

Nitz is wrapping everything together rather nicely, but then he goes a little overboard. He explains the plan in detail only to throw a significant wrench in it. That wrench is another ghost possessing protagonist John; presumably this act of vengeance will make things difficult for the A plot.

It’s a problem because Nitz is rushing, he’s telling instead of showing. Most of the issue is in summary and the events are all lined up and the contrivances are starting to show. The final, cliffhanger possession–maybe the first time one of the ghosts gets to be in the driver’s seat as far as the reader experiencing it–is too dramatic after all the summary.

Escape is only a four issue limited series and by the end of this issue, it sure seems like Nitz needs five to get the story done right.

Still, most of it’s awesome as usual.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dream Thief: Escape 1 (June 2014)

Dream Thief: Escape #1

You know, I’ve been talking about limited series spending too much time in their last issue setting up the sequel series but, dang, if Jai Nitz and Greg Smallwood don’t pull it off beautiful for Dream Thief: Escape.

Even though this series directly continues the previous one, Nitz gets to revamp his whole approach to the setup. He’s already explained the whole mystical mask and the protagonist being a vehicle for justifiably angry ghosts seeking vengeance. It’s also letting him develop the protagonist better, since he’s got a sidekick and sidekick chit-chat is great for exposition.

Most of the big action actually belongs to the protagonist’s father in a flashback. Doing the story of two dream thieves, one established, one establishing, is a nice touch too. Also, Nitz seems to enjoy doing eighties references and the flashback has a few good ones.

The end reads fast, but otherwise, Escape’s excellent.

B+ 

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dream Thief 5 (September 2013)

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Nitz and Smallwood do the improbable–they close off Dream Thief all right. It’s a difficult proposition because Nitz has been running the series episodically and he’s only got one issue to wrap everything up. Most of the previous issues have nothing to do with this one, except their subplots.

How does he do it? He sort of runs head first into it–and doesn’t give his protagonist (whose name is John, which is probably why I never remember it) any possession arc. He’s just got to explain himself and problem solve as he finds out there are more dream thieves than he thought.

Not a lot of questions get answered and the finish is way too quick, but it’s a satisfying conclusion. Smallwood’s art is oddly cheery in a lot of places.

It might help the issue ends with a promise of a second volume, which is welcome news.

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist, colorist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dream Thief 4 (August 2013)

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You know a comic is good when the writer can introduce an unbelievable amount of characters names in the first three pages and you still love it.

Maybe it’s just because Nitz did a poker issue. It’d be hard to mess up a good poker issue. The lead–I think his name’s John but it doesn’t really matter–ends up in a dead mobster and eventually heads to Graceland (yep) to play in a high stakes poker match.

Nitz goes through some of the games play by play. Smallwood doesn’t exactly have anything to do, but the scenes still come off beautifully. It was during the lengthy poker games I realized how great an issue they produced here. It’s the best Dream Thief, even if it has almost nothing to do with the overarching storyline.

The concept lends itself to episodic installments; it’s upsetting the series isn’t an ongoing one.

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist, colorist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dream Thief 3 (July 2013)

Dream Thief 3

Okay, so the lead doesn’t kill people, he gets possessed by wronged people and they kill people. Nitz wasn’t clear though before. This explanation gets the lead off the hook a little for killing his girlfriend. He was possessed by the guy she’d murdered.

Anyway, this issue has the lead–his name’s John Lincoln but it doesn’t really matter since he’s always living out other people’s lives–messing with the Klan and then solving crimes. Nitz is really pushing the series as perfect for a cable TV procedural. And not in a bad way. It’s a good read.

There are occasional weak spots. The exposition about how not all white Southerners are racists is tedious and the subplot about the lead’s sister maybe being an accomplice to murder is too much, but Nitz doesn’t trip in the issue’s second half.

Dream Thief is getting better and better with each issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist, colorist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dream Thief 2 (June 2013)

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This issue of Dream Thief isn’t just better than the first, Nitz sets a high bar for the series and its ambitions.

Besides the opening page’s narration–and some cuts to the protagonist talking to his sister–most of the issue is the lead thinking in the mind of a dead guy. The comic is a little like “Quantum Leap” mixed with the movie Frailty. The protagonist kills murderers and gets the victim’s memories.

This issue, which has a bit of action too–the weaker pages are the action ones–are the protagonist trying to figure out what to do while he’s suffering from having another person or two in his head.

Nitz also plots the issue really well. There are constant developments. It probably helps he starts with the protagonist “waking up” and having to remember everything while moving forward.

The only negative is the surprisingly weak normal dialogue.

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist, colorist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dream Thief 1 (May 2013)

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I’m not what I’m supposed to think of Dream Thief. Not to spoil too much but the protagonist kills his girlfriend–the day after cheating on her–because she’s just mistakenly killed someone she suspects of breaking into her house and tying her up and threatening to kill her.

It’s unclear if Jai Nitz wants the reader to identify with the guy. He’s a pothead piece of crap–also not sure if Nitz has ever smoked pot. Not a lot of potheads go out and plot major thefts. Pretty sure they don’t.

The art, from Greg Smallwood, is pretty darn good. It’s all realistic until the flashbacks and hallucinations, which he doesn’t do as well as the realistic stuff… but not bad.

At the end of this issue, it’s unclear how Nitz is going to approach the comic’s morality. As long as he makes a firm decision, it should work.

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist, colorist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editor, Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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