The Gravediggers Union #5 (March 2018)

The Gravediggers Union #5

Gravediggers Union #5 is just as sturdy an entry as ever. Craig and Cypress have their story down; this issue the Union is investigating the Tom Cruise stand-in (a celebrity in a cult who may or may not bring about the end times). Only the reader knows he’s not going to bring about the end times because it’s Morgan who is the dark prophet.

This issue juxtaposes Morgan having a vision with the Union going into the celebrity guy’s mind to figure out what’s going on. This mind meld happens after the Union has to take out the guy’s army of zombies. Because why not.

Basically it’s just a bunch of awesome Cypress art, doing magic, fighting, dark gods, whatever.

Gravediggers is a hard book to describe. Yes, the art drives it, but Craig’s plotting and pacing gives Cypress the opportunities to excel. Quite good comics.

CREDITS

Writer, Wes Craig; artists, Craig and Toby Cypress; colorist, Niko Guardia; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; publisher, Image Comics.

The Gravediggers Union #4 (February 2018)

The Gravediggers Union #4

Half the action in Gravediggers Union involves the Union members doing research at a library and arguing about what’s an appropriate use of union dues.

The other half of the action is Morgan, daughter of a Union member and prophet of the Black Temple, bargaining with some dead souls for their help in destroying humanity or something. Morgan’s half of the issue is where Cypress gets to go crazy on his art–the dead souls are part of a “ghost-storm,” basically a hurricane; the art’s gorgeous. Even when people are being eviscerated.

Craig’s comedic writing comes through on the other half, the Union half. It’s exposition but well-done. Cypress’s art is strong on it as well, it’s just not a ghost-storm. It’s a trip to the library, with some very pop culture references.

Gravediggers Union continues to be a strong book. Craig’s juxtapositioning of Morgan’s story and her father’s is working out a lot better than I thought it would.

CREDITS

Writer, Wes Craig; artists, Craig and Toby Cypress; colorist, Niko Guardia; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; publisher, Image Comics.

The Gravediggers Union #3 (January 2018)

The Gravediggers Union #3

Gravediggers continues on a nice pace. It’s a suspense comic (so hopefully a limited, or at least with definite arcs) and Craig’s better at building that suspense than anything else. The pacing of the reveals this issue, as he toggles between the Union tangling with a vampire and Black Temple Prophet (and former junior gravedigger) Morgan has a trippy experience getting ready for a presentation.

Great art by Cypress. As always. Though he gets less to do with the Union than Morgan. She goes all over the place, this universe and beyond. The Union goes into a haunted house. From a haunted graveyard. Or some such thing. Morgan’s storyline opens the book up a lot, because Craig isn’t really a comedy writer. He couldn’t keep it going with just the Union.

So another good issue of Gravediggers Union. Craig’s got the momentum on the book now, Cypress is always able to carry it. It’s in its stride.

CREDITS

Writer, Wes Craig; artists, Craig and Toby Cypress; colorist, Niko Guardia; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; publisher, Image Comics.

Retcon 4 (December 2017)

Retcon #4

Retcon finishes with a not terrible final issue. Toby Cypress’s art is good. Nixon gets in a lot of content–too much for Cypress to keep up with at times–and it’s fine content.

The story itself is weak.

While the one guy is hovering over the Pentagon preparing to attack an intergalactic monster who has taken over the building, the mean cop is deciding whether he wants to be sacrificed to save the world. He’s got the witch and her sidekick, who probably should’ve had more to do in the book because they’re less obnoxious than the lead.

It’d have been nice if Retcon could’ve finished better. Nixon’s rushed, like he’s collapsing a longer story to four issues, but there are some decent moments and there’s awesome art. All together the series doesn’t amount to much. Except awesome art.

CREDITS

Here We Go Again. Again.; writer, Matt Nixon; artist, Toby Cypress; letterer, Matt Krotzer; publisher, Image Comics.

The Gravediggers Union 2 (December 2017)

The Gravediggers Union #2

Craig splits the issue in half, between Cole and his sidekicks talking to a witch about their situation and then something with the actual situation they don’t know about. Cole’s daughter isn’t being held prisoner, she’s the goddess of the Black Temple and she’s going to bring about the end of the… something. It’s unclear what. Probably not world. Though maybe.

And she’s not an all-powerful goddess. She’s still learning how to people manage. The 1% funds the Black Temple–though the daughter, Morgan, doesn’t let it stop her from taking appropriate measure.

Cole and company are meeting a witch named Morphea in the first half. Then daughter Morgan in the second. Too many M names.

The prologue has art from Craig. Presumably some kind of pre-history magic thing. It’s fine. So far it has zero connection to the comic itself.

Cypress’s art is phenomenal. Even when you know he’s doing way more work than the panel needs, it’s such good work.

CREDITS

Writer, Wes Craig; artists, Craig and Toby Cypress; colorist, Niko Guardia; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; publisher, Image Comics.

Retcon 3 (November 2017)

Retcon #3

Retcon turns it around a little this issue. There’s a lot less about government conspiracy and a lot more supernatural. Also the title makes sense now. One of the characters is trying to save the world and putting a team together and every time she fails she resets time and tries again.

If you’ve seen the movie, Edge of Tomorrow, it’s pretty much exactly like that movie. Retcon doesn’t get originality points. Except in allowing Cypress to get so crazy with the art at times.

Though the art is held back a bit. Cypress doesn’t go crazy with anything. There’s one reveal with the bad guys in particular where Cypress could easily have filled a page with it but instead just gets a little panel.

And the dialogue’s not great. In fact, Nixon’s exposition is a little worse. The supernatural stuff gives Retcon a boost, but it’s still trope-y and tired.

Still. It’s more compelling than it was last issue.

CREDITS

The Weight of Time; writer, Matt Nixon; artist, Toby Cypress; letterer, Matt Krotzer; publisher, Image Comics.

Retcon 1 (September 2017)

Retcon #1

Retcon is about these secret paranormal military guys going out and killing secret paranormal ex-military guys. There’s a lot more back story on it and a fair amount of details–nothing really on the characters, just events and magical stuff–but the main story is pretty fast.

Two agents are tracking a former agent in an AA meeting, they get orders to “disavow” the former agent (in front of the AA members), one of them balks. Then it turns out the former agent has a magic werebear thing going on and the balking current agent has a different magic thing going on.

Toby Cypress’s art is wild, but constrained and thoughtful. Matt Nixon’s script is fine. The comic drags in parts, speeds in parts (especially in the cliffhanger setup), but it’s fine. It’s engaging, even if the characters don’t get any sympathy besides being possible victims.

CREDITS

T.P.T.B.; writer, Matt Nixon; artist, Toby Cypress; letterer, Matt Krotzer; publisher, Image Comics.

The White Suits 1 (February 2014)

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I’m trying to imagine worse writing than Frank J. Barbiere’s dialogue in The White Suits. There’s got to be some out there but it’s so shockingly terrible, my mind is clouded over. Lines from this issue repeat themselves, kind of like a hammer to the temple.

And it’s a shame, because Toby Cypress does a really solid Paul Pope impression. I can’t say he’s Pope-lite, like a lot of people these days, because much of his detail work is an impression. His dollar bills look like Pope’s dollar bills in One Trick. But whatever, Cypress makes it all look good.

I actually thought the art would make the book tolerable. Like it could somehow overshadow the lousy writing. It can’t.

I’m beginning to think all these highly affected dialogue and narration styles are just to hide the bankruptcy of ideas. Suits’s Dark Horse; I inexplicably expected more from them.

D- 

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Frank J. Barbiere; artist and colorist, Toby Cypress; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Blue Estate 2 (May 2011)

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Blue Estate‘s second issue changes everything up. Gone is the private investigator. Now the protagonist is Rachel, the Steven Seagal stand-in’s wife. The issue is split between her and her brother.

It’s a fast read–without the narration, it moves speedily.

Osborne does a better job with the brother than the sister. He establishes characters, ground situation, all in dialogue, all without it getting too expository.

For Rachel though, Osborne has secrets and revelations to get through. He handles them all right; he’s keeping secrets not just from the characters, but from the reader as well. The purposeful misdirection is really obvious… especially since he’s willing to do a 180 and reveal other details. Sometimes on the same page.

The book has four artists working on sections. I can usually identify Nathan Fox but the art flows quite nicely together. The changes give the series a fluid feel.

CREDITS

One Day At A Time; writers, Viktor Kalvachev, Andrew Osborne and Kosta Yanev; artists, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox, Kalvachev and Robert Valley; colorist, Kalvachev; editor, Philo Northrup; publisher, Image Comics.

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