Cinema Purgatorio 7 (November 2016)

Cinema Purgatorio #7

Well, it’s not the best issue of Cinema Purgatorio. Not the best at all. It’s not really the worst either, I don’t think. I mean, this installment of Modded is probably Kieron Gillen’s strongest writing. But it’s not a particularly distinct issue.

Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill explore the American Western, which is fine. There’s nothing amazing about it. It’s actually a little obvious; it’s light, which is strange.

Code Pru is okay. Ennis is trying a little harder. It doesn’t really come to anything. Maybe he if he had even two more pages, he’d be able to get someplace better with it. It’s actually an improvement over the earlier stories, it’s just still not clicking.

Like I said before, Modded is Gillen’s best writing. Nice art from Nahuel Lopez. It’s a side story from the main plot, so of course it’s going to be better than usual. Gillen still manages to screw it up at the end, of course.

A More Perfect Union has a really nice double-page spread from Michael DiPascale and some stupid Civil War reference from Max Brooks. I don’t care. No one cares, Max Brooks, no one cares. If they cared, if Avatar is really pitching Cinema Purgatorio to Civil War enthusiasts, well, those guys all left during Code Pru and Ennis’s sex positivity.

And The Vast is a reprint from last issue. I think. I don’t even care. If it’s not, nice art from Gabriel Andrade. If it is, nice art from Gabriel Andrade.

Moore and O’Neill worked up some momentum on this book and if they’re running out… well, Cinema Purgatorio is more often disappointing overall than not, it’s just they had a couple really great stories. And Ennis seemed like he was getting with it. As always, it’s too bad it’s not better.

CREDITS

Cinema Purgatorio, After Tombstone; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Kevin O’Neill. Code Pru, Men; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Raulo Caceres. Modded; writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Nahuel Lopez. A More Perfect Union; writer, Max Brooks; artist, Michael DiPascale. The Vast; writer, Christos Gage; artist, Gabriel Andrade. Letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

War Stories 20 (September 2016)

War Stories #20

It’s another excellent issue. Ennis has got a lot of exposition in the dialogue but there’s no better place for it than a war comic; it’s not just for his narrative, it’s for the history too. Script’s steadily paced and Aira’s art flows quite well this issue.

CREDITS

Vampire Squadron, Part Two: The War Effort; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Tomas Aira; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Cinema Purgatorio 6 (September 2016)

Cinema Purgatorio #6

If there’s meant to be an ideal Cinema Purgatorio, this issue comes closer than I’d ever imagine the comic would get. Even with the occasionally phenomenal, usually good, always fine features from Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, there’s not much of a feel to the comic. It’s an anthology without tone, not even in terms of the story selection. It feels like Alan Moore inserted into a bad Avatar idea.

Until this issue. It’s not like Gillen’s Modded is any better, but Nahuel Lopez’s artwork is less complicated than the last artist’s and it makes it read better. It might not make it better, I feel like Lopez isn’t ambitious as much as functional while the last guy was ambitious, but it makes it read better. It makes Modded less of a letdown when you get to it.

Because it’s not just like the Moore and O’Neill feature is great, Code Pru is actually pretty awesome. Pro is having dinner at the Nighthawks diner and she has a talk with a reject from a bad eighties Terminator/Highlander knockoff. It’s funny, it’s kind of touching, it’s kind of strange. It’s Ennis finding something cool to do with this usually devastatingly series. Ennis doesn’t have a handle on this comic, maybe because of the length, maybe because of whatever, but this time out, he finds it. He finds his character. Caceres’s art is fine. It doesn’t end up fitting well enough, but it’s fine.

A Most Perfect Union is dumb but DiPascale’s on a role with his art, both in terms of the narrative pacing and of his character expressions. He’s developing a visual tone for the comic even though Brooks’s script is weak. And The Vast is cute. Andrade’s art gets confusing, but Gage actually paces out a fight scene well.

So Cinema Purgatorio is finally a diverting read. Not rewarding in all its parts, but diverting in them. But it all hinges on Moore and O’Neill. This issue of Cinema Purgatorio opens with a political bombshell. Moore and O’Neill tell the story of the Warner Brothers–you know, the guys whose company now owns DC Comics and has made lots of bad movies off of Alan Moore’s comic books, which he infamously hates being involved with. I actually thought he was going to go further, but he stayed classy. Heinous individuals get proper treatment. There’s a lot in the story–a couple times O’Neill just gives up and lets the dialogue and visual references take over. I couldn’t help reading the feature–Moore casts the Marx Brothers as the Warner Brothers, which brings in even more politics. Today Warner owns the MGM library, including the Marx Brothers movies (at least for home video distribution, I actually have no idea if they lease them or own them or what, not the point)–so is Moore making a deeper jab at Warner? Was his King Kong feature a couple issues ago a jab at Warner? Am I reading too much into it? It’s Alan Moore, after all. Aren’t I supposed to read into it?

Anyway, the feature’s great. Beautifully visually, beautifully in terms of dialogue and the Marxist banter. It flows so nicely into Ennis’s Code Pru, it’s impossible not to be generous with this rest of the comic.

CREDITS

Cinema Purgatorio, A Night at the Lawyers; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Kevin O’Neill. Code Pru, Big Jimmy C.; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Raulo Caceres. Modded; writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Nahuel Lopez. A More Perfect Union; writer, Max Brooks; artist, Michael DiPascale. The Vast; writer, Christos Gage; artist, Gabriel Andrade. Letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Surgeon X 1 (September 2016)

Surgeon X #1

I really wanted to like Surgeon X. Right there on the front cover, third credited, Karen Berger–the editor getting cover credit. And John Watkiss art. It has to be something special. Only it’s not. The super sad part of Surgeon X is it isn’t special.

It takes place in the future after a medical crisis. I think it’s the second or third Image book with a medical crisis going on. There are rioting people because of refugees and racism basically. It takes place twenty years in the future, but writer Sara Kenney is pretty obvious in her commentary and she’s just trying to make a future where things get worse. But mundanely worse, not fantastically worse. The narrator is a doctor who quits to become a rogue surgeon, dealing out life and death in equal amounts. There’s a lot of narration. It’s not good narration.

But the real problem is Watkiss’s art. It’s not clear if he’s not the right artist for so much dialogue–exposition everywhere–or if he’s just rushing. The script’s an information dump not a narrative and Watkiss is never able to generate any tension off the thrill scenes. Maybe the colorist is just wrong for Watkiss.

Regardless, I’m really bummed. I wanted this book to something vaguely exciting.

CREDITS

The Path of Most Resistance: Chapter One, Cutting Loose; writer, Sara Kenney; artist, John Watkiss; colorist, James Devlin; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, Image Comics.

I Hate Fairyland 9 (September 2016)

I Hate Fairyland #9

I Hate Fairyland continues on its demented way, with Young throwing Gert into her next misadventure. The recap text actually made me think there might be some kind of followup to the previous issue’s events, but no, instead Young’s full steam ahead.

This issue has Gert going into Larry’s magic hat to try to find a captured beast to pay off a gambling debt. She tries to sweet talk her way out of trouble. Doesn’t work, beautifully so. Instead, she’s got to go into Larry’s hat–Larry’s a bug of some sort, in case you don’t read Fairyland, which you should–and fight lice in order to save herself both in miniature form and big form.

Young’s new plotting for the comic–done-in-ones–is going beautifully. There’s just a solid, hilarious, maybe grotesque adventure every issue. It doesn’t get much better. Or, if it could, I can’t imagine how.

CREDITS

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

Manifest Destiny 23 (September 2016)

Manifest Destiny #23

As a series, Manifest Destiny started up and slowly traveled down. Though sometimes it has charged downhill in terms of plotting quality. But Roberts’s art has always been a draw. It’s always been something the series can lean on when Dingess’s writing isn’t cutting it. Until now. Roberts is either in a rush or as bored with the story as I am. He hurries through and it looks bad. Not all of it, but enough of it.

The issue has the crazy flashback guy on a mission from the evil inter dimensional bird god thing. Lewis and Clark are meeting with a Native American tribe to figure out where they’re camping for the winter–I remember when this comic had the momentum of the expedition. It’s shocking how Dingess has let it flop on the deck.

For every solid moment in the Lewis and Clark story, and there are only a handful, there’s something even worse with the flashback guy. It feels like a bad Tales of the Black Freighter knock-off, both in terms of narration as it contrasts reality and the art design.

I don’t think I can do Manifest Destiny anymore.

CREDITS

Sasquatch, Part Five; writer, Chris Dingess; penciller, Matthew Roberts; inkers, Tony Akins and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Owen Gieni; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Sean Mankiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Hadrian’s Wall 1 (September 2016)

Hadrian's Wall #1

Hadrian’s Wall opens with a paragraph explaining the setting–it’s set in an alternate future because it has an alternate past (the U.S. and U.S.S.R. nuked each other in 1985 so the future’s different)–but then it’s just a traditional future cop sci-fi thing. And it’s pretty good at it too. Writers Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel just have one major mystery for the cop to solve–who killed his ex-wife’s new husband? Who she initially had an affair with, who got him fired, who shot him four times.

The protagonist is now a painkiller popping wreck of a man. Will he be able to unravel the mystery out in the stars–Hadrian’s Wall refers to the ship where there a limited number of suspects. And we already know someone isn’t what they seem.

Basically, it’s an excuse to look at some gorgeous artwork from Rod Reis. The dialogue is fine–it’s pulpy future cop stuff (and it’s hard to believe it didn’t start as a screenplay)–the characters are okay. The art on them is great. I mean, it’s not an ambitious book, it’s just a solid one.

CREDITS

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

Kaijumax: Season Two 4 (September 2016)

Kaijumax: Season Two #4

Cannon doesn’t offer a breather after a heavy previous issue. He sends Electrogor under the sea into the old gods’ territory (with Cthulhu showing up at the end) and it’s a real downer. I feel like it’s the first time he’s branched into different monster mythologies to this degree in Kaijumax–I mean, Cthulhu’s never been a kaiju (right?). Most of Electrogor’s half of the issue is spent with him feeling terrible, which is sort of his thing, but for really good reason as he meets the residents of this hidden, undersea slum. It’s heartbreaking and horrifying, but not in for any predictable reasons.

At the same time, Chisato the good mecha, gets herself a new partner and has to work vice, which provides Cannon the opportunity to do some mixed size action sequences. It doesn’t necessarily seem heavy, but then Cannon sticks the reader right at the end of the issue. He’s heavy on the “real life, real crime” parallels, which isn’t as successful as just when he sticks to the complicated world of Kaijumax.

Season Two is working out to be far more successful than the previous one, which is no small feat. Between Chisato and her character development–it’s not like the humans in Kaijumax have ever been particularly sympathetic so seeing someone try to be more like them is rather effective; her new partner–the burnout human–is a wonderful contrast, of course.

It’s such a good comic. It’s just brutally downbeat.

CREDITS

The Seamy Underbelly; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name 1 (September 2016)

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name #1

Resident Alien is back. As always, cause for rejoicing, especially with Steve Parkhouse having a great time returning to the characters. He maintains the series’s comfortable feel, but with a visible enthusiasm. As far as the writing goes, Peter Hogan eases the reader back into the adventures of Harry and company. Even the series title–The Man with No Name–goes unanswered this issue; Hogan and Parkhouse know how to set up a limited series.

These series have to read great in trade.

This issue’s highlights include Harry going for a walk with the mayor, who’s running for re-election, the Men in Black tracking down Asta and the local sheriff having a talk with her, then Harry going to the mayor’s poker night. It’s just a mellow book with great dialogue, great characterization and great art.

Even as he’s laying the groundwork for the eventual mystery, Hogan makes sure to work on the characters first. The poker game is one of the issue’s longer, more amusing scenes. Hogan writes the book through Harry’s appreciative, forgiving eyes, even when he’s not in a scene. It’s positive without being unnecessarily idealistic. Bad things can still happen, of course. And the issue ends on a fairly ominous hard cliffhanger.

CREDITS

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

Kong of Skull Island 3 (September 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #3

Giant apes are more interesting than political intrigue, even political intrigue involving multiple betrayals. These betrayals all happen during a crisis and all happen with characters it’s impossible to really care about because we’re three issues into Kong of Skull Island–the title does now make awesome (and plural) sense, however.

Still Asmus does a bit of a better job this issue than the last time around. Not good enough to right the course of the comic but at least enough to encourage further time and reading energy.

Another problem this issue is how much Magno has to do with the art and in how little time. He’s got a volcanic eruption, a political coup and a Kong riot. By the time the lava gets to some stranded folks, I’d forgotten about the volcano entirely. There was too much of the other stuff–including that pointless political intrigue. At least the Kong wrangler lady gets more to do, even if way too much of it happens off panel so Asmus can concentrate on moving the disaster part of it forward.

But next issue promises lots of giant apes versus dinosaurs–and some yawn-inducing political intrigue, no doubt–so I’ll be back. But Kong’s almost out of the goodwill the first issue generated.

CREDITS

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

Kill or be Killed 2 (September 2016)

Kill or be Killed #2

It’s definitely a better issue of Kill or be Killed, though Brubaker spends about a third of the issue just writing first person prose from the still obnoxious protagonist. And the prose isn’t particularly good. I mean, if it’s supposed to be the first person perspective from some annoying twenty-something entitled white kid who doesn’t know anything about writing prose, it’s fine. It also seems like Brubaker’s using it to give Phillips less to draw and, it’s already clear Kill or be Killed isn’t going to be one of Brubaker’s successes, so at least let the reader have as much great Phillips art as possible.

And there is some great Phillips art. There’s some paintings even–though it almost seems like they’re matching the story to what Phillips might have already around.

This issue doesn’t have the demon, which raises some questions (is the protagonist just insane?), and the protagonist–who’s so memorable I don’t even remember his name, annoying entitled white dude sums him up just as well (who’s shitty to his mom)–finds his first guilty victim. A thinking man’s Punisher this comic ain’t.

But it’s just all right enough, with Phillips getting just enough to do–a trip to upstate New York, some flashbacks involving the protagonist’s father (the guy’s family life is more interesting than anything Brubaker has for him to do as a demonically empowered vigilante), those awesome paintings of Phillips’s–to keep Kill or be Killed going. But it’s not a good comic. It probably won’t ever be a good comic.

CREDITS

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

Future Quest 3 (September 2016)

Future Quest #3

I was considering dropping Future Quest based on this issue but Parker takes that option away. Or tries to take it away. He does a fill-in issue with Birdman and the Herculoids each getting an origin story. The Birdman story has Steve Rude art. It’s awesome Steve Rude art too. Even when something is dumb–and it’s really dumb because Parker’s not trying to tone down the Hanna-Barbera dumb stuff. He’s embracing it. Future Quest feels like a cartoon you watched as a kid, only you’re watching it as an adult and the art is a lot better than it should be. But the writing is either on the same level or just being a little too self-aware.

If it were the sensation of watching a Saturday morning cartoon block, it’d be something. But it isn’t. Parker isn’t going for that sensation–he’s just doing a Crisis of Infinite Hanna-Barberas. It’s a very mundane stuff.

I mean, the Herculoids story doesn’t have Steve Rude art and it has more content (and opportunity to be dumb), but it’s still better. Maybe because it’s the second story and it means the comic is over, but Aaron Lopresti and Karl Kesel can do action art, even with dumb actors. Lopresti and Kesel don’t make the Herculoids look cool, but they do make their action sequences competent. It’s action versus the Birdman story, which was iconic superhero action without an iconic superhero. And a dumb James Bond knock-off plot. Herculoids is always dumb, but it’s imaginatively dumb.

But neither story continues the main plot. So do I want to keep reading a comic just for Steve Rude art. Because it’s not a disappointment. No one could do this approach better than Parker. It’s all just too stupid to be taken seriously. With these properties, it’s just a bad idea.

CREDITS

The Deadly Distance; artist, Steve Rude; colorist, Steve Buccellato. Vortex Tales: The Herculoids in Mine-Crash!; penciller, Aaron Lopresti; inker, Karl Kesel; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Betty & Veronica 1 (September 2016)

Betty & Veronica #1

WTF.

Or, as Archie Andrews, as written by Adam Hughes would say, “double-yoo, tee, eff.” Because it kind of pretends to be an all ages comic; the idea of Hughes doing this 21st century good girl art version of Betty and Veronica requires it to be ostensibly all ages. Except Hughes isn’t writing it at all for kids. He’s got a bunch of pop culture references–opening with Archie and Jughead doing a Fight Club riff is only slightly more ambitious than having Jughead’s dog narrate half the issue.

As a brand, Archie Comics is about to crossover. It’s about to be mainstream in a way no one thought Archie Comics could ever be. Hughes isn’t doing anything for that effort. He’s doing this weird pseudo-retro book, smartphones but still the idea the kids of Riverdale are going into the freaking army instead of Oberlin, lots of weak anti-hipster blather while Archie compares Jughead to Wimpy over his hamburger fixation. Sex jokes about Moose and Midge but not really. Hughes also writes Moose like the Hulk, which is dumb.

What should be frustrating is the art is fantastic. Except on Betty and Veronica, who Hughes just does his good girl art poses on. They look like they’ve cut and pasted from a pin-up, not interacting with the scene around them. In the middle of the issue is two empty pages where the characters read the comic–Betty and Veronica, removed from the narrative. How meta. How lame. But how much better than the rest? A lot, it’s a lot better than the rest. The comic is so dumb, the great art doesn’t matter. Hughes not integrating his–air quotes–protagonists into the art or narrative flow (it’s either the dog or Archie or Jughead after the first act) isn’t even a problem. If they were integrated and the art were even better, the writing would still be bad.

And if Hughes’s dialogue weren’t terrible? The plot would still be meandering. He just wants to fill frames and talk.

I’m not sure I wanted to like this comic. But I did want to have some respect for it. Doing a 21st century Betty & Veronica well would be something, even if I didn’t want to read it. But Hughes is wrong for it. He’s bad at writing this comic book, he’s bad at these characters. He’s fine drawing them, of course, but so is almost every artist. There’s even a gallery of the variant covers from a bunch of other artists at the end of the book and they’re all good. So what? The writing isn’t there. Hughes doesn’t take it seriously at all.

CREDITS

Why Can’t We Be Friends?; writer and artist, Adam Hughes; colorist, José Villarrubia; letterer, Jack Morelli; editors, Stephen Oswald, Jamie Lee Rotante and Mike Pellerito; publisher, Archie Comics.

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey 1 (September 2016)

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1

Well, isn’t Batgirl and the Birds of Prey a bit of a surprise? It’s a Rebirth tie-in so there’s a lot of exposition setting up post-Crisis, post-New 52 Batgirl and Black Canary (and Huntress), but writers Julie Benson and Shawna Benson pace it pretty well. The Barbara Gordon narration is strong. There’s some awkward points–mostly in how it addresses the Killing Joke and the writers kind of swerve, which is okay because this comic is going for fun. It’s got this dark, noirish art from Claire Roe, but it’s a fun book.

I do wish it were twice as long. Black Canary doesn’t show up until the second half or so, doesn’t get her own origin recap, which makes it seem a little unbalanced (especially since Birds of Prey was Canary’s book originally). But she and Babs are great together. Their bickering is fun to see with Batgirl fighting alongside Canary.

And this Canary is still the punk rock New 52 brawler Black Canary, which is still kind of funny to me because it’s too much. They went too far with it, but they’re committed.

Huntress isn’t impressive so far. Huntress hasn’t been impressive since Earth–2, so there’s not much to be said about it. She’s kind of like “Ultimate” Huntress, but the writers do get her setup done fairly well. They’re quick about it. Maybe too quick because then the comic’s over in a few more pages and I really wanted more story. I’m excited to read more of this comic.

CREDITS

Rebirth; writers, Julie Benson and Shawna Benson; artist, Claire Roe; colorist, Allen Passalaqua; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Dave Wielgosz and Chris Conroy; publisher, DC Comics.

Wacky Raceland 2 (September 2016)

Wacky Raceland #2

Wacky Raceland continues to be a zany, antisocial, mildly disturbing wondrous mess. There’s action all over the place, but Manco keeps it all in check. It’s like he can do wild, but it’s contained wild. It’s the perfect mix.

But Pontac comes through on the story too. He’s got this depressing, awful flashback into one of the racers’ pre-apocalypse lives. Turns out being sympathetic to the characters might be a mistake. This issue’s flashback is for Dick Dastardly and it’s part of the main story instead of a back-up. It works better this way; it makes Pontac have to do expository about the setting and it means Manco gets to draw different things in combination with one another. Manco has a very classical style and his uniform application of it–sci-fi and horror, for example–brings disparate visual elements beautifully. It’s fun to look at Wacky Raceland. It’s well done, but it’s also fun to see this stuff.

There’s also the Hanna-Barbera element. You never take Wacky Raceland too seriously, you never worry about some development being a disappointment. It’s a prime gig as far as reader expectation (if it were bad, it’d be the reader’s fault for buying it–come on, DC doing grim and gritty Hanna Barbara titles), but Pontac and Manco are still doing a great job with it.

CREDITS

A Night at the Opera; writer, Ken Pontac; artist, Leonardo Manco; colorist, Mariana Sanzone; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 6 (September 2016)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #6

Aguirre-Sacasa starts this issue of Sabrina with some rather showy exposition. The series always has good exposition with a fluid narrative distance, but this opening is something different. It’s Aguirre-Sacasa using some of the goodwill he’s built up; he’s asking the reader to get excited. It’s almost like he’s pep rallying what’s going to come.

And it’s deserved. It’s a great issue, covering the histories of Sabrina’s family’s familiars. Samuel the cat is the focus of the comic, but Aguirre-Sacasa wants the reader to have to wait. He and Hack deliver a fantastic origin for the asps in the house. Then it’s Samuel’s turn and Aguirre-Sacasa starts it off really slow. He’s dragging the reader along, holding them hostage–is this origin going to be worth it? Because Aguirre-Sacasa sets it up to be a big deal–Samuel doesn’t want to reveal his origin and then he makes the asps promise never to bring it up again. That behavior, even for a witch’s familiar in the form of a cat, is weird. Is the origin worth it?

Yes, but not for the plot twists. Sabrina looks like homage to seventies horror, but it’s not. Aguirre-Sacasa does something different with it, mixing the psychological scares and the visual ones in different combination. The “disturbing” visuals in the series aren’t scary (well, maybe somebody mutilated but I mean the really freaky witch designs Hack comes up with). This issue has lovable witches even. Aguirre-Sacasa deals with the witch trials and he goes far making them sympathetic. Samuel might not like them, but he’s kind of a jerk.

While Aguirre-Sacasa is busy showing the reader how to read the comic, Hack is making sure the reader keeps going at the right pace. The creators seem more enthusiastic about the comic than they want the readers to be. But it’s also expertly rendered. Like I said, it’s a great comic.

CREDITS

Familiars; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Future Quest 2 (September 2016)

Future Quest #2

I’m going to just have to say it–I’m not digging Future Quest. Yes, Shaner’s art is great, yes, Jonathan Case’s art is great, sure, Ron Randall’s art is fine (I think I’d prefer him on the Jonny Quest arc anyway–he’s more enthused about drawing adolescent adventuring). But Crisis on Infinite Earths or Secret Wars with Hanna-Barbera superheroes and adventurers? The cartoons you didn’t really want to watch because, while technically competent, they were just kind of lame?

Yeah, they’re still kind of lame. Parker just has them banter at each other, which doesn’t help the comic at all, but what else is he going to do? Future Quest has way too many characters, way too poorly contrived teaming-up, way too little graceful action. Future Quest is frantic. It feels like there’s a quota for panel appearances by character. Parker’s script is boring. More fighting in the Everglades. The most boring Battleworld ever. There’s so much going on, there’s not time for the artists do anything. They’ve got to fill panels with characters no one cares about. And not because no one has nostalgia for these properties, but because Parker doesn’t spend any time establishing any of them as characters.

He also cops out of the Space Ghost cliffhanger from the previous issue.

So, like I said, I’m not digging this book. It’s a strange misstep in DC’s otherwise shockingly successful Hanna-Barbara titles. Maybe Parker’s not the right guy for it. The artists are all right on, but Parker isn’t connecting with these characters or their team-up.

CREDITS

Visitors from Beyond; writer, Jeff Parker; artists, Evan Shaner, Ron Randall and Jonathan Case; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flintstones 1 (September 2016)

The Flintstones

So, the first issue of The Flintstones seems to be a proof on concept. Can writer Mark Russell use a grim and gritty version of “The Flintstones” socially relevant to today? Sure? Of course? Anyone could. “The Flintstones,” “The Honeymooners,” whichever. A person, their spouse, their friend, their friend’s spouse. Throw in a couple pets and a kid each and you can make just about any social commentary you want.

It’s not a high bar, which is what I think bugs me so much about The Flintstones. It’s bragging about doing a good job at something easy. Steve Pugh’s art is key, no question. It brings a level of significant quality to a rather mercenary concept. Pugh knocks it out of the park on the art. You believe in this idealized sixties version of the past, even though the frame says it’s real, which ties into the social relevancy angle. Russell has a lot of pop culture references and they’re all really, really careful.

It’s a good comic. It’s got beautiful art. But I’m not sure I like it. I’m not sure the point of The Flintstones is to like it. Beyond buying it, which is fine because Pugh’s art is glorious and Russell’s writing is fine–it’s tedious, but it’s fine. It’s worth the time and money to read it, which just seems a little light as far as ambition goes. It’s The Flintstones after all. We all want to have a yabba dabba do time.

CREDITS

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

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: