Gideon Falls #1 (March 2018)

Gideon Falls #1

Gideon Falls is a mystery. Some of it is urban, with a young man with a history of mental illness searching the city for bits and pieces of wood. And nails. The rest of it is a disgraced but not in that way priest reassigned to some rural town–Gideon Falls. There he finds himself in a mystery, involving the ghost of the previous priest and something related to the city guy’s quest.

So. It’s a mystery. It’d be nice if writer Jeff Lemire has it planned and plotted out and it’ll be a smooth read. Andrea Sorrentino’s art is smooth and moody. It’s got some weird digital texture lines thing going on but otherwise it works just fine.

It’s too soon to tell with the comic though. Is it a great hook? No, but it’s a fine one. There’s going to be a lot of religious imagery, which doesn’t seem particularly edgy so hopefully Lemire’s got a good backstory for the priest.

Who knows. Too soon to tell. As a first issue, it does its job. It makes you want to read the second issue.

CREDITS

The Speed of Pain; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Andrea Sorrentino; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Will Dennis; publisher, Image Comics.

Peanuts: A Tribute To Charles M. Schulz (October 2015)

Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz

Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz. “Over 40 artists celebrate the work of Charles M. Schulz.” It says so right on the cover. And Tribute is a fine celebration of Peanuts. There are some great cartoonists who contribute pieces for the collection. It’s 144 pages, which means contributors average less than three and a half pages each.

Collections of Peanuts strips, like the Fantagraphics Complete Peanuts, have three strips a page. So Schulz would have ten or eleven strips in similar page count. It shows just how magical he was with pacing those strips day-to-day.

There are some good strips, some okay strips, some cool strips. The Paul Pope Snoopy and Schroeder strip? Very cool. But given the whole grab is Pope doing these realistic looking Pope characters and them still operating on Peanuts logic. When Schroeder worries Lucy’s going to show up… well, Snoopy’s cute and all but I’d much rather see Pope Lucy. Beautiful art, though. Because Pope’s a lover.

There aren’t any strips non-Peanuts loving strips in the book. There are even strips just about loving Peanuts.

A few strips after Pope is Roger Langridge, who does a Snoopy the flying ace strip from the perspective of enemy pilots. It’s cute. It’s not great. Raina Telegemeier does a one page thing right after. Langridge got four pages. Her’s is cute. It’s not great. But she does it in one.

Stan Sakai and Julie Fujii do one of the best longer strips in the book, Escapade in Tokyo. Charlie Brown gets separated from the class on a school trip and spends the day with a cool Japanese girl. It’s anti-crap on Charlie Brown (most of the book, if not all of it, is anti-crapping on Charlie Brown) and it’s a nice story. Sakai and Fujii give it just the right amount of nostalgia and sentamentality without sacrificing the humor.

Terry Moore does something similar. Lucy vs. Charlie Brown only this time Charlie Brown’s going to kick that football. Moore mimicks Schulz’s style but sort of not enough to get away with the strip. Charlie Brown winning has to be perfect, like Sakai and Fujii did.

Chynna Clugston Flores does a “Why I Love Peanuts” strip. It’s good. It’s just a “Why I Love Peanuts strip”. There are some more in the book and Clugston Flores’s is probably the best but… Tribute is just a tribute. Sometimes the cartoonists interact with the characters, sometimes with the media itself.

Evan Dorkin and Derek Charm do a “Cthulhu comes to Peanuts” long strip and it’s inventive, beautifully illustrated (the style homage ages like Schulz’s did as the strip goes on), and kind of thin. Not many contributors do a riff on Peanuts without staying in Schulz’s constraints.

Except then there’s Melanie Gillman’s beautiful Marcie strip addressing her relationship with Patty. Liz Prince had a nice Patty strip earlier, but nowhere near as ambitious. Shaenon K. Garrity’s long, color strip about Patty taking on Lucy is good. It’s mostly in Peanuts constraints, just with some visual storytelling differences.

Peanuts: A Tribute is a good book for a Peanuts fan. To check out from the library. It’s a great proof of concept for a more ambitious project. I didn’t realize I wanted other cartoonists doing Peanuts until I read it. But I want them doing more, trying harder.

I also wish, given it just being this assortment of homages, Boom! had printed it more coffee table size.

CREDITS

Contributors, Mike Allred, Art Baltazar, Paige Braddock, Megan Brennan, Frank Cammuso, Derek Charm, Colleen Coover, Evan Dorkin, Chynna Clugston Flores, Shaenon K. Garrity, Melanie Gillman, Zac Gorman, Jimmy Gownley, Matt Groening, Dan Hipp, Keith Knight, Mike Kunkel, Roger Langridge, Jeff Lemire, Jonathan Lemon, Patrick McDonnell, Tony Millionaire, Caleb Monroe, Terry Moore, Dustin Nguyen, Molly Ostertag, Lincoln Peirce, Paul Pope, Hilary Price, Liz Prince, Stan Sakai + Julie Fujii, Chris Schweizer, Ryan Sook, Jeremy Sorese, Raina Telgemeier, Richard Thompson, Tom Tomorrow, Lucas Turnbloom, Jen Wang, and Mo Willems; editors, Alex Galer and Shannon Watters; publisher, KaBoom!.

Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #1 (March 2018)

Ds1

Doctor Star and The Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows is a Black Hammer tie-in book–more a sidequel, with the WWII setting showing Abraham Slam and Golden Gail in their respective youths. It starts out a Starman homage (I assume, I’ve never read it but the protagonist’s name is James Robinson and his outfit is similar so… it’s pretty obvious).

Robinson narrates. Writer Jeff Lemire lays on the melancholy, which artist Max Fiumara visualizes quite well. Doctor Star never looks better than when it’s about some intense sadness and desperation. Not even when there are superhero things going on.

So the intense sadness should be the best part. And it’s not. It’s just intense and sad, something Lemire does exceedingly well with on Black Hammer and exceedingly poorly with Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows. Just think about that title. It’s so sad. Everything is so sad.

Other than being sad, being Starman homage, and having minor Black Hammer tie-in… there’s nothing to Doctor Star #1. Not good when there are only four issues.

CREDITS

Star Child; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Max Fiumara; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #4 (January 2018)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #4

I wasn’t particularly concerned about Sherlock Frankenstein #4 going into it. I knew Lemire would have something good cooked up.

And he does. He and Rubín don’t just do the history of Sherlock Frankenstein, they do the history of the Black Hammer universe, at least in the twentieth century. It goes from Golden to Silver to Bronze. Lemire doesn’t break out all the heroes it goes through, just gives Rubín space to show off some familiar–and not familiar–designs.

Lots of double page spreads this issue. Rubín goes crazy with it to great success. Lucy and Sherlock’s meeting pays off.

And the ending of the book, which has very little to do with Black Hammer itself, is a perfect finish to this series. Lemire’s been doing a lot with the “supervillains” of BH. The finish embraces that work (more than it does having a Lucy investigates issue).

It’ll be interesting to see what Lemire does with the next spin-off, which is Lucy-less.

CREDITS

The Undying Love of Sherlock Frankenstein; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil 3 (December 2017)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #3

The only thing wrong with Sherlock Frankenstein is realizing it’s almost over. I don’t know why I thought it was six issues; just being hopeful, I guess.

Lucy’s investigation continues, even after someone has attacked her in the sanctuary. Real quick–apparently Black Hammer (the character) got his powers from the New Gods? I don’t think the New Gods and their planet were in Black Hammer. Maybe I’m wrong but… it seems like a fresh reveal.

Anyway, the investigation continues and Lucy makes a couple surprise discoveries. The first leads to a lovely scene from Lemire, who really gets to leave Hammer’s sadness aside when he writes Lucy. She’s got sadness, but it’s not that hopeless sadness. It’s a hopeful sort of sadness.

And that scene leads to the big reveal and the soft cliffhanger tag announcing the final issue. Boo, final issue. Yay, Sherlock Frankenstein.

Great art from Rubín, of course, including some fantastic double-page spreads. His little Lucy intro is great too.

CREDITS

Who is the Metal Minotaur?; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil 2 (November 2017)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #2

Lemire just won the Cthulhu game. For over ten years, comic book companies–usually indie ones–have been doing Cthulhu stuff. Boom!, Avatar (obviously), Archie, Dark Horse, Image. And Lemire just won it for Dark Horse with this issue of Sherlock Frankenstein.

In searching for her father, Lucy Weber meets Cthu-Lou II. He’s a sewer varient of Cthulhu’s chosen emissary on Earth and he’s not interested. He fights with his wife, who’s got a husband with an octopus head and no interest in super-villainy. They’ve got a sweet daughter, also with octupus head, but in a cute way. It’s just this sad story for Weber to encounter. There are clues too, but it’s really just this sad family.

Lemire couldn’t do it without Rubín though. Not at all. Rubín uses comic strip pacing for some of the issue, which makes the mundane hilarious and the terrifying genial. The expressive faces–it’s a talking heads issue–are wonderful.

It’s a fantastic comic. Lemire and Rubín each do great stuff here.

CREDITS

The Call of Cthu-Lou!; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil 1 (October 2017)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #1

The panel composition. David Rubín sometimes spirals the panels in double-page spreads, sometimes just moves action horizontal, always guiding the reader’s eye. It’s a visual treat, which is particularly awesome given it’s a talking heads issue.

Set before Lucy Weber joins Black Hammer, Sherlock Frankenstein and Legion of Evil has her investigating arch-villain Sherlock Frankenstein (think a mix of Sivana and Lex Luthor) in hopes of finding her father and the other heroes. Writer Jeff Lemire paces it well–he clearly loves writing Lucy Weber, the comic’s got first-person narration–and even the hinted revelations have a lot of weight. Though Frankenstein is probably incomprehensible if you haven’t kept up on Black Hammer.

Rubín’s art isn’t just amazing for the double-page spreads, it’s the single panels too. The way he visualizes Spiral City, modern technology amid grime, it’s breathtaking.

So good.

CREDITS

Whatever Happened to Sherlock Frankenstein?; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Black Hammer 13 (September 2017)

Black Hammer #13

This issue wraps up the second arc. I haven’t decided if I’m going to wait for the trade or just read the second arc again in one sitting, because Black Hammer has arrived. Lemire and Ormston do New Gods, they do Darkseid (sort of), they do a big climatic finish, and it all works. Even when it seems, for a panel, like the pace is off, all of a sudden it’s right back on.

Lemire sets up a bit for the next arc, moving some characters around, then bakes in how he’s going to do the finale. It’s subtle and thoughtful. And Ormston’s panels are those heartbreaking Black Hammer panels. Lush desolation.

Black Hammer just keeps getting better.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dean Ormston; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Black Hammer 12 (August 2017)

Black Hammer #12

David Rubín returns for another issue (maybe a few), with Lemire doing an origin story for Lucy Weber. The entire thing is flashback, starting when Lucy’s a kid (right after the heroes’ disappearance) and going until she starts investigating it as an adult. There’s some talking heads, some exposition, some foreshadowing; Rubín beautifully visualizes it all, making the final reveal–which is somewhat static–emotionally devastating. It’s a different kind of Black Hammer, but Lemire clearly knows how to do all kinds of them.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist and letterer, David Rubín; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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