Animal Man 3 (January 2012)

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Foreman shows why he belongs on Animal Man this issue. Not because he’s a great artist, but because he can draw disgusting things without making them discomforting.

It’s an all-action issue featuring Animal Man turning into a mutant thing and fighting other disgusting mutant things and… Okay, there’s not much content. However, it’s the first issue where I felt like I should stick with the comic.

Lemire has this one scene–Animal Man’s wife is bitching about the son’s bloody video game, then she herself starts playing it. It’s a tiny little thing, a subtle pin in a haystack of the obvious, but it shows some imagination on Lemire’s part.

Whether Lemire can synthesize subtle character detail and big, gooey action remains to be seen. And he’s a little cheap–the comic’s compelling because a four year old is in danger–but Animal Man is finally rising above mediocrity.

CREDITS

The Hunt, Part Three: Totems; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Travel Foreman; colorist, Lovern Kindzierski; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Animal Man 2 (December 2011)

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Lemire’s plot for Animal Man is far from original—I think the idea of a little girl controlling “the Red,” or flesh, is from Mark Millar and Brian K. Vaughan’s Swamp Thing, definitely Vaughan’s. And Lemire’s dialogue is occasionally weak between Buddy and his wife… but the issue’s still compelling.

Foreman is the wrong artist for it, because as Buddy starts getting weird looking, how are we supposed to be able to tell he’s any different from how Foreman usually draws him.

Still, this issue is a lot better than the first one suggests Lemire is capable of doing on the title. It’s mostly a suburban talking heads book and then it becomes a father-daughter story. The uncanny domestic situation takes up about half the issue—animals resurrected, neighbors deformed—and Lemire’s pacing of it is fantastic. It’s panicked and stressful and excellent.

Lemire’s starting to win me over.

CREDITS

The Hunt, Part Two: Maps; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Travel Foreman; colorist, Lovern Kindzierski; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Animal Man 1 (November 2011)

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If it weren’t for all the narration, Animal Man would be a lot better. Jeff Lemire’s narration for Buddy isn’t bad, it’s just too omnipresent. After a while, Lemire relies on it for everything.

The opening scene establishes Animal Man as a family drama–with appropriate comedic touches. Once Buddy’s solo though, Lemire goes self-aware, inwardly hip superhero who thinks in lengthy exposition. Maybe it’s because he gets Buddy alone and doesn’t know what to do.

The comic makes a good impression off the family scenes and Lemire’s reasonably solid writing quality. It isn’t sensational, but it’s not bad either. Lemire’s very safe with Animal Man.

He also has a good partner for staying safe in Travel Foreman. Foreman’s style for the book is indie mainstream superhero–he’s sparse in his lines, no shading, but still well-composed action scenes.

Animal Man probably won’t be special, just thoroughly readable.

CREDITS

The Hunt, Part One: Warning from the Red; writer, Jeff Lemire; penciller, Travel Foreman; inkers, Foreman and Dan Green; colorist, Lovern Kindzierski; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Immortal Weapons 2 (October 2009)

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What a stinker.

The whole thing plays like a bad Marvel horror comic from the seventies, with a team of mercenaries (they have matching outfits, of course) out to retrieve a spider. It’s not any spider, it’s one of the Bride of Nine Spiders’s spiders. There’s a bit of a continuity break, showing the Bride to always be beautiful, when in Immortal Iron Fist flashbacks she wasn’t shown as such.

So, it’s an action horror comic instead of a kung fu horror comic.

Bunn’s writing is occasionally okay—his dialogue is fine—but he’s establishing all these characters in a single issue. The Bride he never gets around to establishing though. She’s barely in her own comic.

Also, Brereton’s problematic—his proportions are off.

It’s just a forced horror comic. Big mistake.

However, great Iron Fist backup. Gaudiano’s inks make Foreman’s pencils fantastic. Still, doesn’t make up for the feature.

CREDITS

The Spider’s Song; writer, Cullen Bunn; penciller, Dan Brereton; inkers, Tom Palmer, Stefano Gaudiano and Mark Pennington; colorist, Paul Mounts. The Caretakers, Part Two; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Travel Foreman; inker, Gaudiano; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Immortal Weapons 1 (September 2009)

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Could this story be more depressing?

Aaron does a decent job on Fat Cobra’s backstory—though he doesn’t go enough into defining Fat Cobra’s Heavenly City. He buys his way back into it at one point and buying one’s way back into a Heavenly City seems a little common.

Then there’s all the retconning of Fat Cobra into Marvel Comics history. He was almost an Invader, he was Ulysses Bloodstone’s sidekick and so on and so forth. Aaron’s trying to hard to be cute. When we get to the end of the story and find out the salient feature of Fat Cobra’s (forgotten) past… all the other stuff becomes silly.

That feature—Fat Cobra has no memory of his past—is similarly problematic. Aaron needed to explain it.

Good art from a variety of artists. It’s a fine package.

Swierczynski’s Iron Fist backup is the best Iron Fist he’s written.

CREDITS

The Book of the Cobra; writer, Jason Aaron; pencillers, Mico Suayan, Stefano Gaudiano, Roberto De La Torre, Khari Evans, Michael Lark and Arturo Lozzi; inkers, Suayan, Gaudiano, De La Torre, Victor Olazaba, Lark and Lozzi; colorists, Edgar Delgado, Matt Hollingsworth, Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic and Jodi Wolff. The Caretakers, Part One; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Travel Foreman; inker, Gaudiano; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 27 (August 2009)

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Swierczynski’s Iron Fist goes out with a whimper. He mimics Fraction’s last issue on the title. I’m not sure Swierczynski should have gotten to close, since he was just following Brubaker and Fraction–not to say his writing wasn’t occasionally quite good, it was just never original.

Foreman goes back to inking himself (I think) and it looks a little better than usual. It’s a dark, emotive style. Until the Lapham pages. They look out of place and, worse, lazy.

Swierczynski is more concerned getting Danny to the last page–expecting a baby, financially ruined–than doing it in any realistic manner. One has to wonder about editorial mandates, how much was about getting Danny set for his next series or whatever.

It’s too bad Swierczynski did ten or eleven issues on the series and never made an impression on his own. It’s still too much Brubaker and Fraction’s series.

The Immortal Iron Fist 26 (July 2009)

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Oh, come on.

I think Foreman’s the bigger problem, but Swierczynski really does completely fail when it comes to a good conclusion. He has a dramatic cliffhanger, but it’s a confusing one (one the previous page implies is unlikely).

But worse, he fails to deal with K’un-L’un. He changes the status quo again and abandons it. He really has no idea how to pace an issue. He goes for dramatic effect with brief, intense moments… then leaves them hanging. He doesn’t follow through to make them solid.

But, like I said before, the real problem is Foreman. Even with someone like Palmer on inks, he just can’t do a good mass action scene. I could barely follow it–is Cobra still alive? It’s a shame because the series was always so good looking, it’s unfortunate it got ugly when Swierczynski started.

Whatever Swierczynski’s problems, he doesn’t deserve confusing art.

CREDITS

Escape from the Eighth City, Conclusion; writer, Duane Swierczynski; pencillers, Travel Foreman and Juan Doe; inkers, Tom Palmer and Doe; colorists, Matt Milla and Doe; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 25 (June 2009)

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As usual, Swierczynski manages to pull the story around after a weak move. Here, he reveals the old impostor to be nothing but a temporary ruse, something to distract Danny (and the reader). Then we get the full story.

Then the Immortal Weapons start kicking butt.

Swierczynski is best when he utilizes the Immortal Weapons, so it makes little sense why he keeps them on the back burner for most of his issues. Danny’s a strong protagonist, but Swierczynski can do only so much with him. He’s still resolving old plot threads, he can’t go forward. So giving him people play off helps.

Not to mention the other Immortal Weapons are often a lot of fun.

Then we get the final page, which reveals Davos’s true mission. Hopefully Swierczynski will take the time to sell it; this issue, it seems another way to prolong the arc.

So, problematic, but good.

CREDITS

Escape from the Eighth City, Chapter Three; writer, Duane Swierczynski; pencillers, Travel Foreman and Juan Doe; inkers, Tom Palmer and Doe; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 23 (April 2009)

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I think I’ll start with Foreman. He usually does an all right job, but he ends this issue on a terrible full-page panel of the (supposedly) first Iron Fist. He’s got this old guy warped to fit in the panel, his body proportions and perspective a complete mess. It’s terrible finish to the issue because it’s supposed to be scary. Instead it’s weak.

The issue opens with the revelation Davos is untrustworthy. It’s not clear if it’s just him or if it’s the Thunderer too. Swierczynski has a very strange storytelling method for Iron Fist. He contracts things Brubaker and Fraction introduced. For the most part, he sucks the potential out of them. He’s not predictable, he’s simply unoriginal. His Immortal Iron Fist feels like a copy of a copy of a copy. It’s dulled.

Every time Swierczynski seems to be getting better, he drops even further than before.

CREDITS

Escape from the Eighth City, Chapter Two; writer, Duane Swierczynski; pencillers, Travel Foreman, Tonci Zonjic and Timothy Green; inkers, Tom Palmer, Mark Pennington, Zonjic and Green; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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