Motor Crush 1 (October 2016)

Motor Crush #1

Well. Motor Crush is absolutely awesome. It’s got a phenomenal pace, lots of action–Babs Tarr’s art is fantastic–and just the right amount of drama. Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher actually do a whole three act story this issue, all while doing a first issue. It’s very cool, with a great cliffhanger. And the lead just gets more appealing the more time you spend with her.

CREDITS

Writers, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart; artist, Babs Tarr; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Image Comics.

Hadrian’s Wall 2 (October 2016)

Hadrian's Wall #2

The issue’s a little drawn out as far as the script goes, but Reis’s art more than carries it along. And there’s some decent detective investigation exposition slash narration, with the detective recording his notes. But the soft cliffhanger’s weak. The writers take advantage of the medium.

CREDITS

Writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Matt Idelson; publisher, Image Comics.

Kong of Skull Island 4 (October 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #4

There’s simultaneously too much and not enough going on. Asmus doesn’t do any character development, just more revelations in the political intrigue. He hasn’t built the foundation for it. While Magno has some beautiful composition for the still moments, the action’s messy. Kong’s a lot of work.

CREDITS

Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

I Hate Fairyland 10 (October 2016)

I Hate Fairyland #10

Young wraps up the second arc–which has been loose anyway–with an action-packed finale. There’s a lot of great art as future Gert battles a giant monster and some decent comedic dialogue, but it’s all a little light. Young safely cruises; there’s nothing ambitious here.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Skottie Young; colorist, Jean-Francois Bealieu; letterer, Nate Piekos; publisher, Image Comics.

Night’s Dominion 2 (October 2016)

Night's Dominion #2

Naifeh expects a lot from the reader, just in terms of keeping up with the story. There’s not a lot of content, just a lot of action and expository banter. The art’s imprecise and the characters are way too thin. The series is already stumbling too much.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Ted Naifeh; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

Kaijumax: Season Two 5 (October 2016)

Kaijumax: Season Two #5

It’s a decent issue, but it’s unclear if Cannon’s building up a new subplot or if he’s just letting something resolve itself here. And there’s the return of awkward, possibly physiologically impossible romance; it seems lazy. It’s like a talking heads issue in a series without them.

CREDITS

Friends on the Outside; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name 2 (October 2016)

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name #2

It’s another outstanding issue of this Resident Alien limited. Some great art from Parkhouse, who particularly excels on the exciting but mundane fire investigation A plot. Harry’s B plot is still unrelated. A superb finish as Hogan brings Harry back into the lead for the hard cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Megan Walker and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Reborn 1 (October 2016)

Reborn #1

Highly derivative fantasy sci-fi afterlife tripe. An older woman dies and discovers she’s Amethyst, Reborn in a Terminator/LOTR knock-off fantasy world. Capullo’s dragon and dropship art is stronger than his people. Millar’s writing isn’t strong on anything. He even rips off some Watchmen here.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Greg Capullo; inker, Jonathan Glapion; colorist, FCO Plascencia; letterer, Nate Piekos; editor, Rachael Fulton; publisher, Image Comics.

Kill or be Killed 3 (October 2016)

Kill or Be Killed #3

Kill or be Killed is cringe-worthy. Not a page of narration goes by where there isn’t something dumb or awful in Brubaker’s writing. He doesn’t have a story–the protagonist goes to wintery Coney Island with his best friend, the girl who’s dating his roommate and pity makes out with him. There’s the story. The rest of it is the lead getting Unbreakable powers from the demon to see the evil men and women do.

There’s occasionally some decent art from Phillips, but even it’s not enough to keep the comic going. Maybe because the characters are so bad; I mean, Phillips draws the protagonist like a tool but Brubaker writes him like a white savior character. There’s even a panel where some cute girl admires his studiousness. Because chicks think it’s hot when you’re all banged up and studying.

As for the best friend, she’s so poorly written I’m beginning to think Kill or be Killed is either a drawer script from when Brubaker was eight or he’s just putting his name on it and has some really lame friend who wants to write comics but Brubaker owes the guy a lung or something.

The only reason to read Kill or be Killed, with the occasional art exceptions, is to be mortified. I don’t read Brubaker comics to be mortified. I’m having a difficult time justifying giving this one any more of my time.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 25 (October 2016)

Lazarus 25

Lazarus is back on track–sort of, Rucka still splits the issue too much–but he doesn’t just give Forever something to do, he lets her make the big decision. The latest arc has been floundering a bit because Forever has been recuperating and way too much the subject of the comic and not enough the protagonist. The moves Rucka makes this issue don’t exactly but her back in the protagonist chair, but they put her close enough to it to create some good will, all while he’s implying the chair is about to get upgraded.

Rucka does try to make the non-Forever, non-Carlyle half of the comic more dynamic. There’s a news team trying to get a good story or something. It leads to some mildly amusing dialogue and a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger doesn’t have any meat to it–the comic gets more enthusiasm off its promise of next issue’s Lazarus battle (as it involves Forever) than anything in the cliffhanger.

As always, the Lark art is wonderful. Even if he does just get to do talking heads. Rucka seems to be about done with his setup, he just needs to deliver on it. This issue suggests he can and will, enough I’m not worried. I just want him to get to it. Forever needs to kick some ass.

CREDITS

Cull, Part Four; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York 1 (October 2016)

Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York #1

The funny part of Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York is its a crossover of the Boom! licensed comics, not the original film properties. I read Big Trouble for a bit; it ranged from really good to even better for a while. Escape not at all. It was the pits. I’m not sure I would’ve given the book a shot if I’d known it was for the comics and not the movies.

But I’m glad I did. It’s not quite up to snuff, but it might be as the series progresses. I don’t think great–there’s a lot wrong with it starting with Daniel Bayliss drawing Jack Burton with an exaggerated chin (like in the Big Trouble book) only being way too realistic about it. It looks like some kind of photoshop distortion, not an absurdly square-jawed person. Though maybe Jack had implants in the comic, who knows.

Otherwise Bayliss’s art is fine. Greg Pak doesn’t get to New York this issue, instead he rips off some Fury Road type villains so there can be desert scenes. Because when I think a book called Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York, I think desert scenery. So there’s not much heavy lifting on atmosphere. Bayliss does a solid amusing shootout for Snake. Not as good on the Jack Burton action.

Pat’s premise is simple–he makes fun of Snake and Jack, which means he’s not getting the point of either character, at least not for how the films portrayed them. Snake and Jack–who both look the same in the comic, which is part of the gimmick–were Kurt Russell doing a John Wayne and a Clint Eastwood impression. He didn’t do them well, but it’s like John Carpenter learned from “Elvis” just not to tell Russell he was doing bad and instead turn it into a great performance. Or Carpenter just hadn’t figured out how to direct a movie star as opposed to an actor, whatever. Pak doesn’t get it. Or maybe the comics didn’t get it.

I’m surprised but I’ll be back for the next one. It’s competent enough and it’s ambitiously dumb enough. If Pak doesn’t mess anything up and just does his Fury Road rip-off, hopefully with a Macready cameo at the end, it’ll better than anyone expected. Except maybe Fresno Bob.

CREDITS

Snake’s World; writer, Greg Pak; artist, Daniel Bayliss; colorist, Triona Farrell; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Betty Boop 1 (October 2016)

Betty Boop #1

Upon reading this first issue of Roger Langridge and Gisèle Lagacé’s Betty Boop relaunch, it occurred to me I have never seen a full “Betty Boop” cartoon. I have no idea what to expect from it. What the comic delivers is some cute jokes and some cute songs. Betty Boop’s more the subject of the comic than the protagonist, which makes it a little weird.

But it’s a fine comic. I don’t know how excited I’d be if it weren’t Langridge–I hope he someday can get an album together of all these songs he’s been doing over the years in comics. Lagacé’s art is solid. Betty Boop as a character has a lot more polish than any of the other ones in the book and it almost seems like a licensing thing.

The story has to do with ghosts and evil lizards and home foreclosures. It’s not as imaginatively plotted as those elements would need to come off; again, I don’t know Boop so maybe Langridge is pacing it off the cartoons?

It does not, however, get me interested in watching “Betty Boop” cartoons at all, which I sort of thing I should be doing.

CREDITS

Enter the Lizard; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Gisèle Lagacé; colorist, Ma. Victoria Robado; editors, Anthony Marques and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Future Quest 4 (October 2016)

Future Quest #4

What did I just read? I know why I read it, but what was it? Future Quest has become a hodgepodge of Hanna-Barbera properties thrown together without any apparent rhyme or reason; all because Doc Shaner’s late on the art? I mean, why else is writer Jeff Parker filling in on the art himself? Parker’s art is fine. In some ways it has more personality than Shaner’s just because Shaner’s style doesn’t fit this content at all. Jonny Quest teaming up with Space Ghost’s annoying tween sidekicks isn’t content anyone should illustrate cleanly and Shaner’s nothing if not clean.

Ron Randall also does some pages and he’s fine. But none of it matters because the story is just a bunch of–well–the story is a bunch of hooey. It reminds of those old DC pseudo-event mini-series throwing together some properties they were trying to keep copyright on back in the late nineties and early aughts, only without any charm. Whenever Parker runs out of story, he puts some little kid in danger and it’s apparently supposed to be enough.

Or there’s a dinosaur. Or a cameo from some other Hanna-Barbera character you didn’t even admit liking when you watched the cartoon when you were a kid.

I think Future Quest can go on without me.

CREDITS

How the Mighty Fall!; artist, Evan Shaner. The Structure of Fear; artist, Jeff Parker. Frankenstein Jr. Making Friends; artist, Ron Randall. Writer, Parker; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Afterlife with Archie 10 (October 2016)

Afterlife with Archie #10

Someday, someone will do tragedy in mainstream comics better than Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, but if this latest issue of Afterlife with Archie is any indication, it’s not going to be any time soon. This issue–a done-in-one prologue to the series–features the Afterlife version of Josie and the Pussycats. Once again, Aguirre-Sacasa mixes pop culture sensibility, horror and so much good characterization.

It might be impossible to talk about the issue without spoiling anything, but I’m going to try. Aguirre-Sacasa structures it as an interview, set in modernity, with Josie telling a reporter all about the Pussycats’ history. There’s a lot of social history, some hints at ties to the overarching Afterlife story and some singing and dancing. There’s also friendship and tragedy.

There’s also a lot of unbelievably good Francesco Francavilla artwork. How Aguirre-Sacasa comes up with the content to give Francavilla the opportunity to do these panels–whether it’s a rock concert, a scene set in a small town in the South or an airplane ride–not to mention the interview panels themselves–it’s awesome, over and over again. Francavilla does the horror, he does the characters, he does the relationships between the two. There’s so much tragedy, the issue practically bleeds it.

This comic book, out of nowhere, isn’t just consistently excellent, it’s consistently exquisite. Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla put Afterlife in a league all its own.

CREDITS

Betty: R.I.P., Chapter Five: Interview/Interlude with the Pussycats; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Wacky Raceland 3 (October 2016)

Wacky Raceland #3

Once again, I’m left a little perplexed by Wacky Raceland. It’s still not wacky, unless they’re trying to rebrand “wacky” as something out of a Mad Max movie, which would make sense. Wacky Raceland feels like corporate synergy on overdrive but it doesn’t matter because writer Pontac’s ideas are engaging enough. Oh, and because Leonardo Manco’s art is awesome. There’s not a lot of original design, just good execution of the standards for post-apocalyptic societies with old cars. Lots of examples for that setting.

And Pontac does try to build the characters. He has a pattern now–a few characters get a story, the other ones fight well-drawn but a little too obscure monsters, then things wrap-up. Every issue is kind of a done-in-one.

This issue’s character is some girl who ran away from a bad situation and things went even worse because of the apocalypse. Manco does that story as a Greek fable. It’s not successful. It’s well-intentioned, but it’s not successful.

But it barely slows the comic down just because of the momentum Pontac and Manco work up in the rest of it. Wacky Raceland’s a cool comic.

CREDITS

Poseidon’s Toilet; writer, Ken Pontac; artist, Leonardo Manco; colorist, Mariana Sanzone; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Deathstroke: Rebirth 1 (October 2016)

Deathstroke

All right, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve got to open this discussion of Deathstroke: Rebirth with the following disclaimer–I’m probably not going to read another one of these comics. I hope other people buy it, I hope other people read it, I hope Priest sticks around at DC. I would love to read more new Priest books, especially ones with good artists like this series. Carlo Pagulayan draws a beautiful espionage thriller with a little bit of DC Universe connection.

It’s a modern day spy thriller, nothing more, nothing else. Slade is haunted by whatever happened to his two sons and whatever happened to his old handler. But he’s a mercenary in Africa now and there’s this whole Deathstroke mystique going with the locals. It’s kind of cool. Priest writes the dialogue well. But it’s nothing a solid Deathstroke story from twenty years ago wouldn’t have had.

And that solid feel is where I can’t get excited, can’t get motivated for the monthly commitment. I’m glad DC can make this book though. You go back a few years, they wouldn’t have–pretty sure I read the New 52 Deathstroke. It would’ve either been lame or terrible. Not a good mainstream super-anti-hero book.

I just need to remember to check in when the first arc gets collected.

CREDITS

The Professional, Part One; writer, Priest; penciller, Carlo Pagulayan; inker, Jason Paz; colorist, Jeromy Cox; letterer, Willie Schubert; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Alex Antone; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flintstones 2 (October 2016)

The Flintstones #2

What a weird, wonderful comic book. Entirely unexpectedly–unless you think about Pugh being on the art and then you know at least the art will be amazing–but, otherwise, The Flintstones is a pretty unpredictable place to mine great material. Only Russell does it. There’s something very Afterlife with Archie in all these Hanna Barbera comics but Flintstones is the one where lighting is striking over and over.

Pebbles doesn’t even talk. Bam Bam doesn’t talk either, but Pebbles is in the comic a lot. Russell and Pugh give Pebbles the annoyed teen persona without ever having a scene with her. Okay, I guess I now hope Pebbles is amazing when she does get an issue. Anyway, the way Russell constructs the narrative is this almost reflected approach to adapting “The Flintstones” cartoon in the twenty-first century.

Only Russell isn’t asking deep questions, he’s asking traditional sitcom questions. He’s playing into the plotting of the original cartoon–while also employing a lot of comic book storytelling devices to get the scenes across. When the comic gets to its final, unexpectedly tender reveal, it’s a comic book moment. With a bit of a cartoon vibe. Only less “The Flintstones” than “The Simpsons.”

And the art. There’s so much for Pugh to do in this issue. Not just in terms of realistically realizing some Stone Age gadgetry, but in how he’s conveying the narrative. Pugh’s a storyteller. There’s an inherent pacing to his panels. It’s a perfect storm of timing, intent and talent, which is about the only way to explain this Flintstones book is such a dabba doo time.*

CREDITS

Buyer Beware; writer, Mark Russell; artist, Steve Pugh; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

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