Kid Lobotomy #6 (March 2018)

Kid Lobotomy #6

Kid Lobotomy comes to a satisfactory, self-indulgent, successful conclusion. Milligan does not Milligan Lobotomy and he even has Kid refer to him (Milligan). But really only twice. And once during a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” reference, which is beautifully executed. Surprisingly so. Kid Lobotomy #6 almost feels like it’s from a different series.

Not least because Kid is now front and center protagonist. He’s discovering his past and how those secrets have affected him and the lives of those around him. It’s not near as outrageous an issue in terms of what Fowler has to visualize, but there’s something special about the art this time. It flows differently. Because Kid’s protagonist and everything else is subplot.

When I finished reading the comic, I was a little confused. Milligan changes the style a bunch, not just with the plotting and his self-reference but in how Kid functions in the comic. Then I realized how well it’d read in trade. It’s the pay-off chapter. It’s just not the pay-off issue. Well, it is the pay-off, but it’d read better in trade.

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CREDITS

Uncommon Lobotomies, Part Six of A Lad Insane; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Tess Fowler; colorists, Lee Loughridge and Dee Cunliffe; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Kid Lobotomy #5 (February 2018)

Kid Lobotomy #5

Kid Lobotomy seems about ready to have a “Milligan moment.” There’s no exact definition to a “Milligan,” it’s just when Peter Milligan does one of those Peter Milligan things and the comic never recovers. Sometimes he makes it twenty issues. Sometimes he doesn’t make it one.

Did he make it five on Kid Lobotomy? It’s a great issue, for the most part; even the ominous material is good. It’s just the end of a story but not the end of the arc. Milligan’s got one more to go and he’s just introduced the idea of the writer as interactive creator. i.e. the characters can interact with the writer.

We’ll see.

But otherwise it’s one of the best issues in the series so far. Fowler’s got a lot of different stuff–an action sequence in a mental hospital, some flashbacks, lots of bugs. Great visuals.

Kid Lobotomy just needs to survive its writer’s more extravagant impulses.

CREDITS

The Boy With Two Hearts, Part Five of A Lad Insane; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Tess Fowler; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Kid Lobotomy #4 (January 2018)

Kid Lobotomy #4

This issue is all about supporting cast member Oletta. While she’s trying to figure out what happened to Kid, she flashes back to her “origin.” Not her full origin (i.e. she’s a shapeshifter, how, why) but her beginnings at the hotel.

Milligan even introduces tween Kid, which is something to see. Though it does make Oletta hard crushing on him a little weird, as she met him when he was ten or something.

Though given the other oddities of Kid Lobotomy, that one is one of the least skeevy.

It’s a somewhat gentle issue–Milligan never goes as gross as he threatens–and Fowler’s artwork is fantastic.

Kid Lobotomy is a sturdy, sturdy book. Four issues in but still.

CREDITS

The Chambermaid’s Tale, Part Four of A Lad Insane; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Tess Fowler; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Kid Lobotomy 3 (December 2017)

Kid Lobotomy #3

What a book.

Kid (Lobotomy) has turned into a giant cockroach. What do you think happens to you if you start reading Kafka at twelve–you grow up to internalize it. So he’s a giant cockroach and he’s trying to hide from his sister, who wants to turn their hotel into a haunted hotel attraction.

She doesn’t get to see the ghosts, only Kid. He can’t help but come across them as they help him see the errors of his ways (at least as his desire to be a giant cockroach). Kid has people who care about him, like the shape-shifting girl and another sidekick.

The issue’s split between him, his sister, and the love interest. Things come together at the end, but without out much collision. There’s a hard cliffhanger, detached from the issue’s events but sort of related.

Who knows where it goes to go next. I’m reading Kid Lobotomy on guard; Milligan wants to shock, maybe awe, probably disgust. Fowler’s art is down for shock and awe but not so much for disgust. Who knew Kid Cockroach would be sweeter looking than Kid Lobotomy?

CREDITS

Lost in Franz, Part Three of A Lad Insane; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Tess Fowler; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Kid Lobotomy 2 (November 2017)

Kid Lobotomy #2

Milligan opens the issue with a couple new characters who ostensibly seem to provide the reader fresh perspective into the hotel and the existing cast. And they sort of do provide that fresh perspective, but all the action of the comic is so crazy it’s not like Milligan needed forced freshness.

The resolution to last issue’s cliffhanger takes up maybe half the pages; it’s Kid’s story arc. Then Kid’s story arc becomes something else entirely.

Meanwhile, one of the new characters explores a bit, discovering how little reality Kid Lobotomy has to it. Once Milligan gets that lack established, he and artist Fowler just go wild. Some great art throughout the book, including gross stuff. Fowler can make gross stuff palatable.

Who knows what next issue will bring, but it’ll be something else. Kid Lobotomy is definitely something else.

CREDITS

Vile Bodies, Part Two of A Lad Insane; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Tess Fowler; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Kid Lobotomy 1 (October 2017)

Kid Lobotomy #1

Kid Lobotomy shows just how much editing can help when it comes to an excessive concept. Writer Peter Milligan has this expansive, weird, creepy, disturbing story yet it’s always in check. It hits all its story beats, the writing is there for the art, the art is there for the writing.

It’s so well-executed, one can look past some of the defects. For example, it’s a little slow at times. Milligan seems to be dragging things out; artist Tess Fowler compensates with focus on characters, but most of them are gross so the focus becomes problematic.

Actually, all the characters are gross to some degree. There aren’t any nice characters. Maybe the shape-shifting maid, who might be Franz Kafka’s sister. Speaking of Kafka, the protagonist sees lots of insects in his hotel. The protagonist is a mentally disturbed, wealthy young man whose father has gifted him a hotel to manage. In addition to managing, the protagonist (Kid), performs high-tech lobotomies on wanting customers.

Sometimes to good result, sometimes to bad.

Anyway, he sees the insects whenever he’s messing around with his sister, who wants to the hotel for herself.

So. Yeah. Kid Lobotomy sort of does an insect/incest word play thing. It’s icky, but well-executed.

And the comic’s got a great cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Do Not Disturb, Part One of A Lad Insane; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Tess Fowler; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editors, Chase Marotz and Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Terminal Hero 1 (August 2014)

Terminal Hero #1

Maybe it’ll all be a dream. Not the comic but me having spent the time reading it. Actually, that dismissal is a little unfair; I want to keep going with Terminal Hero, just to see if writer Peter Milligan ever finds anything original to say.

He has some hints of personality when the protagonist is discovering his bad self (versus his good, pure self). There’s also some decent dialogue.

There’s also a lot of scenes out of “ordinary man gets extraordinary powers” pop culture familiars, like Hollow Man and The Fly most obviously. There are probably more. Milligan isn’t trying hard at all.

Even though it’s a Dynamite comic, it feels a lot like a nineties Vertigo comic. Something forgettable or failed; given the protagonist’s telekinetic control over matter and his flaming hair, I wonder if it was supposed to be a Vertigo Firestorm relaunch.

Piotr Kowalski’s art’s nice enough.

C 

CREDITS

No More Trouble; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Piotr Kowalski; colorist, Kelly Fitzpatrick; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

All-New Doop 1 (June 2014)

Doop #1

Oops, was I supposed to read “Battle of the Atom” first? Even though I never read writer Peter Milligan’s X-Force, I figured Doop was from there and he finally got his own series. Given the mass crossover just in this issue–X-Men of all eras–I was able to guess some of the series’s intent.

Only, if it’s just Doop’s side adventures to this crossover, it’s unclear what kind of mileage Milligan will be able to get out of it. There’s some funny bickering with the various Iceman incarnations, but nothing to make the issue itself worthwhile.

Similarly, the David LaFuente art is pretty good, both for the action and the comedy, but it’s not enough on its own to recommend the comic.

The concept’s a fine enough idea–a side sequel to a big Marvel mutant event–it just doesn’t have much to offer except to diehards.

C 

CREDITS

The Real Battle of the Atom; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, David Lafuente; colorist, Laura Allred; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Devin Lewis and Nick Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Justice League Dark 3 (January 2012)

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If nothing else, Milligan’s mishandling of Justice League Dark shows why pairing Justice League members off for issues has always worked. Because when you try to tell eight individual stories, you end up with a Deadman comic with some pointless guest stars.

Sadly, Janin’s art doesn’t hold up this issue. The first half or so is absolutely gorgeous, like the previous issues, then Janin starts to get sketchy and lazy. It’s not bad, it’s just nowhere near as good and, without Janin being amazing, what’s the point in reading Dark?

Milligan’s so disinterested in the characters, he resorts to the occasional sex joke (Zatanna and Constantine, Deadman and the girl he’s protecting), but without any enthusiasm. Cheap sex jokes are supposed to be funny, but Milligan apparently disagrees.

The series does show signs of eventually becoming cohesive, but the pacing makes waiting painful.

Or, with Janin off his game, pointless.

CREDITS

In the Dark, Part Three: Shibboleths and Alcohol; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Mikel Janin; colorist, Ulises Arreola; letterer, Rob Leigh; editor, Rex Ogle; publisher, DC Comics.

Red Lanterns 3 (January 2012)

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This issue is something special. It’s Benes objectifying a resurrected rape and murder victim. At first, I thought it was just his impulse, but then the issue moved on and it became clear Benes does it on purpose. It’s a little creepy. The new DC seems to be a bunch of creators you wouldn’t leave alone with your kid.

Oddly, it’s easily the best Red Lanterns issue. Milligan is able to write this female character, able to set her in opposition to the lead Red Lantern, and to do an impression of an eighties DC sci-fi book.

Benes rips off Phantom Menace for the alien planet this issue, bringing down the issue’s creativity, but Milligan has his own offenses too. In particular, he brings back the two quarreling humans. It’d be so funny if neither becomes a Red Lantern.

It’s not a good comic, but the writing’s not incompetent.

CREDITS

Higher Consciousness; writer, Peter Milligan; penciller, Ed Benes; inker, Rob Hunter; colorist, Nathan Eyring; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Darren Shan and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

Justice League Dark 2 (December 2011)

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Strangely, I don’t care about any of Justice League Dark‘s significant problems. It’s got Janin on the art still and he’s still fantastic, so it can pretty much be about anything. And Milligan isn’t going to write anything offensive. It might get bad, but it won’t offend on any level other than wasting time.

But there’s Janin’s art, so Dark can’t be a waste of time.

Now, it is interesting what a big part Deadman plays here. He’s got this book, DC Universe and Hawk & Dove. I’d hate to think DC is overexposing him just because there’s a TV show in the works.

Sadly, Milligan writes Deadman like he’s a Seth Rogen character. He always begging Dove for sex… and considering she’s not even on the team, it’s strange she gets more page time than the erstwhile principals.

Still, Dove by Janin is awesome.

Dark‘s both bad and wonderful.

CREDITS

In the Dark, Part Two: Dark Matter; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Mikel Janin; colorist, Ulises Arreola; letterer, Rob Leigh; editor, Rex Ogle; publisher, DC Comics.

Red Lanterns 2 (December 2011)

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Wow, what a bargain. Nineteen pages of story.

I think Benes is suited for dumb science fiction. I mean, Red Lanterns is pretty dumb. Milligan introduces about fifteen proper nouns this issue and none of them are consequential. Worse, he doesn’t even expect the reader to remember them. He’s completely non-committal with the whole thing, which begs the question… why bother?

The flashback (I think it’s a flashback) in the issue has nothing to do with the incredibly soft cliffhanger, so what’s the point other than to fill pages?

Oh, wait, the point is to fill pages.

I suppose on a technical level, besides the endless proper nouns, the writing isn’t bad. His first person narration of the lead Red Lantern is decent enough. But Milligan clearly doesn’t have a plot.

It’s also unclear to me why the Spectre isn’t a Red Lantern, if they’re the Lanterns of vengeance.

CREDITS

Pure Rage; writer, Peter Milligan; penciller, Ed Benes; inker, Rob Hunter; colorist, Nathan Eyring; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Darren Shan and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

Justice League Dark 1 (November 2011)

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Who is Mikel Janin and why isn’t he on a better book?

Janin is an exquisite artist. He brings a sense of realism to his figures and settings… and the magical nonsense in Justice League Dark. He’s not an inappropriate artist for the comic at all, he just should be on something much, much better.

Because, so far, Peter Milligan isn’t doing anything interesting with Dark. Some of the problem is the plotting. He’s going to introduce the reader to the whole concept—along with the regular Justice League failing. Now, as far as I know, this comic is the first appearance of the “modern” Justice League.

And Cyborg is apparently Robocop.

Milligan doesn’t even get the cast together, which is a peculiar move. He mostly narrates from Madame Xanadu’s point of view. Either he’s not doing a good job writing it or she’s boring.

Regardless, Janin makes Dark worthwhile.

CREDITS

In the Dark, Part One: Imaginary Women; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Mikel Janin; colorist, Ulises Arreola; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Rex Ogle and Eddie Berganza; publisher, DC Comics.

Red Lanterns 1 (November 2011)

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Red Lanterns is DC’s family-friendly title, isn’t it?

I’d sort of heard of the Red Lanterns, but I had no idea they all looked creepy (as creepy as Ed Benes can draw—he’s pretty slick for a sci-fi comic with horror elements). I also didn’t know they hung out near a pool of blood and fought all the time.

As for the writing, Peter Milligan doesn’t commit to the sci-fi aspect. He’s bringing in these two angry young men on Earth and I assume one of them is going to end up being a Red Lantern. It’d be funnier if the kid didn’t, of course, since it would just be Milligan filling pages.

The majority of the comic follows the Red Lantern leader, who’s got some dumb name I’m not committing to memory, as he waxes nostalgically about his long-dead family.

It’s crap, but inoffensive crap.

CREDITS

With Blood and Rage; writer, Peter Milligan; penciller, Ed Benes; inker, Rob Hunter; colorist, Nathan Eyring; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Darren Shan and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

The Mystic Hands of Dr. Strange 1 (May 2010)

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This issue is an homage to Marvel’s old black and white magazines, though at the regular, modern comic size. And, with the exception of including a text story (I don’t care who wrote it, why’s it there?), the issue is a complete success.

The feature story, from Kieron Gillen and Frazer Irving, is set in the late seventies and deals with contemporary social issues. It’s a “place in the world” superhero story for Dr. Strange, even though he’s not exactly a superhero. Gillen’s writing is strong and Irving draws a scary Mephisto. With it, the issue’s off to an excellent start.

The next story, from Peter Milligan and Frank Brunner, is also good. Brunner’s artwork lends itself, on a whole, better to the form than Irving’s does. Milligan writes fine dialogue.

Ted McKeever’s action story is really a moody introspective addiction piece.

It’s all great. But why the text story?

CREDITS

The Cure; writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Frazer Irving. Melancholia; writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Frank Brunner. So This Is How It Feels…; writer and artist, Ted McKeever. Duel In The Dark Dimension; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Marcos Martin. Letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, John Barber and Jody Leheup; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Girl 3 (September 1996)

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Milligan brings Girl to its unexpected and fantastic finish.

In some ways it’s the least visually outlandish issue of the series. Fegredo is confined to a very realistic rendition now. The result is something a little more visually engaging than the other issues. Because the reader finally knows exactly what Fegredo’s supposed to be drawing so he or she can appreciate it better.

Milligan comes up with a great narrative for the issue—it takes place over a couple days—and he still manages to surprise the reader every few pages. Once he sets up the last issue, he still has a couple more revelations in store for the reader and for Simone, the protagonist.

Simone, a first person female narrator written by a man, is one of the strongest female comic book characters I can think of. Milligan doesn’t just masterfully write a comic, he masterfully writes a person.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorist, Nathan Eyring; letterer, Ellie de Ville; editor, Shelley Roeberg; publisher, Vertigo.

Girl 2 (August 1996)

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Milligan delivers an outstanding issue. One of the greatest things about Girl is how unpredictable he makes the narrative. But it’s more than just coming up with a great cliffhanger to this issue, it’s coming up with a great resolution to the previous issue’s cliffhanger.

In between, Milligan fills in a bunch more about main character Simone’s life. He doesn’t spend a lot of time implying history, more giving her a revealing situation to move through. The final revelation (of this issue)—which Milligan even foreshadows, before playing with the idea of foreshadowing it—forces the reader to reexamine Simone.

Still, with an issue left, Girl is still somewhat up in the air. Milligan’s second issue is even better than his first, so I’m very anxious to see what he does in the third.

Fegredo excels again, making the people outlandish but real. Not to mention his fantastic panel design.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorist, Nathan Eyring; letterer, Ellie de Ville; editor, Shelley Roeberg; publisher, Vertigo.

Girl 1 (July 1996)

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I suppose there is a little sensationalism in Girl. It takes place in a town called Bollockstown and there’s a lengthy dream sequence and a couple mammals going out a window and plummeting to their deaths.

But Milligan makes the whole thing feel everyday. The comic’s about a–you guessed it–girl named Simone. Her family’s awful, so’s the town and she’s fifteen and stuck there. So her self-awareness generally hinders more than helps.

Though this issue ends on a big moment, the rest of the issue is rather quiet, even when she’s doing something loud. It opens in a flash forward, about two weeks after the majority of the issue; I’m guessing the series will fill in the difference. It’s a big open, but even it’s a little quiet.

Fegredo’s artwork is wonderful, giving Simone’s reality a lot of grim, but occasionally showing comfort.

It’s a great read.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Milligan; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorist, Nathan Eyring; letterer, Ellie de Ville; editor, Shelley Roeberg; publisher, Vertigo.

After Dark 1 (July 2010)

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Wesley Snipes helped create After Dark. There’s no mention of if he did it before or after debtor’s prison. I imagine if the comic had a tax evader as a character, it might be a lot more interesting. The story, if I can figure it out, is about an atmosphere destroyed earth with no real sunlight (Snipes apparently saw the Matrix) and the people in power decide to send a mission out to find a cultural icon to inspire the masses. Unfortunately, it’s not Elvis.

A really lame team assembles and there’s eventually some dramatics, et cetera.

It’s basically like every other lame sci-fi story. I read it because of Peter Milligan, who doesn’t necessary do crappy work for hire. His writing here is terrible, so I guess you’ll have to trust me on that last statement.

There’s not much he can do with this awful, unintelligible art.

Simply dreadful.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Milligan; pencillers, Sara Biddle and Jeff Nentrup; inker and colorist, Nentrup; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Renae Geerlings; publisher, Radical Comics.

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