The Order of the Forge 3 (June 2015)

The Order of the Forge #3

It’s the end of the Forge, but hopefully there will be more adventures of “tubby” Benjamin Franklin and “dick” Paul Revere and “loyal to the King” George Washington as they fight supernatural evil before the American Revolution.

Gischler has a lot of fun, as usual with the comic, but it’s hard for it not to seem rushed. Reading the first two issues of the series, it felt like it at least needed five parts. Instead, it gets three and the ending of this issue–which plays like The Goonies finale–isn’t enough.

The issue opens abruptly and–besides a kiss between George and his lady friend, who gets so little character development I forgot her name–closes with a bad action sequence. Besides the girl and (tubby) Ben Franklin, Bettin draws everyone about the same. So you’ve got four lookalikes having a fistfight.

It’s still amusing, just way feels abbreviated.

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; colorists, Bettin and Enrica Eren Angioliniletterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Ian Tucker and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Order of the Forge 2 (May 2015)

The Order of the Forge #2

The Order of the Forge continues to be an unabashedly awesome comic book. Gischler manages to be remarkably restrained–even as he tells the story of George Washington, Paul Revere and Benjamin Franklin like it’s The Avengers or Harry Potter, he manages to be aware of the line between awesome and too much. It’s not a deep comic at all, it’s just an expertly done shallow one.

This issue has the three getting superpowers–Forge is way too amusing and way too great a concept for there to be no movie option hopes, but–once again–Gischler errors on the side of caution. It’s a comic book first, with Bettin’s art very aware of the medium.

And the story’s just good. There are nice complications for all the characters, there’s a good female protagonist and even the biggest Washington fan would never believe he as cool as Gischler writes him.

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Ian Tucker and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Order of the Forge 1 (April 2015)

The Order of the Forge #1

There’s really no other way to say it.

Dude, The Order of the Forge is some kind of Star Wars hero’s quest–updated with more modern vernacular and R-rated interests for everyone–starring George Washington, Paul Revere and Ben Franklin.

And, dude, it’s awesome.

Writer Victor Gischler seems to know exactly what he’s got and exactly what he’s doing–historically accurate, full of supernatural mumbo jumbo, father-son issues, friendship issues, Ben Franklin being too busy whoring to discovery electricity–it’s simultaneously reverent to historical figures and full of piss and vinegar.

Piss figuring into the story as well.

And Tazio Bettin’s art is perfect. He handles the proper stuff just fine and he handles the action really well. The historical setting is nice looking when it needs to be and ominous when it needs to be.

It’s awesome. Gischler knows what he’s doing and is enthusiastic about it.

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Ian Tucker and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Sally of the Wasteland 5 (December 2014)

Sally of the Wasteland #5

Bettin’s art is a little broad for the finish, which has Sally in a “normal” future environment. She and Tommy make it into safe hands, a huge underground society started by the college professors who knew nuclear war was coming.

Most of the issue has Sally hanging out with the female security chief, though Gischler does get in an action packed conclusion. It all seems little familiar–a little Aliens, a little Terminator, a little Planet of the Apes–but the mix isn’t bad. And the issue, even with Bettin getting lazy as the comic goes on, isn’t bad at all. It’s rather good.

It just doesn’t have an ending for the series. Gischler goes with a big cliffhanger, which sort of leaves Sally adrift. He’s not leaving it open for a sequel or setting up a sequel, he’s cutting out before the story ends. It’s frustrating.

But rather good.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; letterer and editor, Tom Williams; publisher, Titan Comics.

Sally of the Wasteland 4 (November 2014)

Sally of the Wasteland #4

It’s another solid issue of Sally. There’s a lot with her and Tommy, which is nice because Sally cares a lot about him and Gischler handles their flirtation (for the first time, joint flirtation) really well.

Most of the issue takes place in a flooded city and artist Bettin does fine with the buildings and even the mutants, but he has some problems with the cast. Their faces become too generic at times; it reads fast, which helps a lot. Until it becomes clear Gischler has written himself into a hole and he’s going to get himself out as fast as possible.

So much happens over so few pages, it reads like Gischler is getting tired, which is too bad. Sally has been a great ride–and even continues to be, albeit too fast of one here–hopefully he’s got a nice finish for the series.

It really deserves one.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; letterer, Tom Williams; publisher, Titan Comics.

Sally of the Wasteland 3 (October 2014)

Sally of the Wasteland #3

Gischler slows down a little too much this issue. Not enough to hurt Sally’s momentum exactly, but enough the cliffhanger feels protracted.

The ship gets attacked again, the cast is shipwrecked again. Gischler and Bettin don’t draw any attention to the similarities–and it does make sense, given the world is full of aquatic mutants (in this issue, they’re cannibals) but there’s only so much Bettin can do with shipboard action sequences.

The issue does move things forward–though somewhat confusingly–for Sally and her crush. Gischler takes an odd approach to the supporting cast–they’re immediately memorable and well-drawn, but they’re really just background to Sally and whoever else is important in a scene. The supporting cast is texture not possible subplots.

The abrupt cliffhanger kills the tone of its scene. But, otherwise, solid stuff.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; editor, Tom Williams; publisher, Titan Comics.

Sally of the Wasteland 2 (September 2014)

Sally of the Wasteland #2

Gischler finds the perfect mix of all action and enough story to get things along. Sally takes front and center, with her stranded party getting into trouble with some pirates. It leads to glorious ultra-violence, which both Gischler and Bettin relish in. Bettin has some slight problems on the art–it's a little too slick–but he delivers on the action, time and again.

Similarly, Gischler goes for the occasional easy dirty joke–which makes Sally all of a sudden feel like distracted Garth Ennis–but then he'll bring it around with moments of sincerity to his characters. Well, those types of moments but also some great action and great supporting cast stuff. There's a texture to Sally of the Wasteland; Gischler sees the obvious, sometimes engages with it, but he also does the work on everything else.

So, besides the two or three tepid jokes and Bettin's occasionally problematic art, it's awesome stuff.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; colorist, Jon Chapple; editor, Steve White; publisher, Titan Comics.

Sally of the Wasteland 1 (August 2014)

Sally of the Wasteland #1

Sally of the Wasteland is great. It's going to be hard to talk about. Writer Victor Gischler has his post-apocalyptic setting and while it's tough and vicious and has a bunch of mutated animals, it's still humanist. It's thoughtful. Gischler starts with a relatively small cast and grows out from them, revealing the full setting. Or at least as full as he's going to reveal this issue.

He also has two really strong characters (both of them female); one being the titular Sally, the other her alter ego. There's a guy involved, but it's doubtful the alter ego will be interested.

Gischler has a lot of action, a lot of great conversation. Artist Tazio Bettin handles everything well. There are occasionally loose moments where the detail isn't as strong as usual, but overall, the art's great.

The comic's only detriment is the post-apocalyptic nature but Gischler's definitely bumping its ceiling.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; colorist, Jon Chapple; editor, Steve White; publisher, Titan Comics.

Clown Fatale 4 (February 2014)

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The last issue of Clown Fatale reads like the big showdown at the end of an eighties action movie with the lead clown in the Stallone role. Amusingly, Rosenzweig draws a Punisher stand-in with Stallone’s nose.

But there’s only so much to the comic. Gischler gives it a somewhat open ending without begging for a sequel. He spends maybe a fifth of the issue getting to that end point. The rest of it is just the blonde clown beating up the bad guys. Gischler writes really good dialogue for the fights, he plots them really well. Even if he manages to execute them better than a mainstream comic, it’s still just a lot of action.

But he and Rosenzweig have enough humor and enough solid character work in those actions scenes they appear to be more. The approach isn’t deceptive, it’s just a masterful use of an extending genre.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; penciller, Maurizio Rosenzweig; inker and colorist, Moreno Dinisio; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Clown Fatale 3 (January 2014)

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Gischler doesn’t appear to be writing for a sequel series, which is both good and bad. Good because he’s taking this series on its own, bad because Clown Fatale is so much fun.

It’s bloody and hard too. Gischler is apparently out to shock the reader into detachment, then bring him or her back in with some great character moments. The ninja girl seducing the dimwit carny is awesome; especially since Rosenzweig bakes in the sight gags so well.

The issue does open with a strange flashback to a crime boss meeting. It’s strange because–while it does have to do with the story–it doesn’t matter enough to spend pages on it. Maybe for next issue?

There’s a good cliffhanger, there’s good character stuff, Fatale is just a good comic. Gischler really knows how to hang onto what’s funny while still edgy. The comic is always fresh, always surprising.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; penciller, Maurizio Rosenzweig; inker and colorist, Moreno Dinisio; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Kiss Me, Satan 5 (January 2014)

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I’ve never found Ferreyra’s art to be one of Kiss Me, Satan’s selling points. Gischler’s lunacy was always its brass ring. This issue, however, the art is what makes it work. There’s some good lunacy–Gischler seems to get how to use magic in a violent action story. With actual wonderment no less. But his final reveal is a little predictable.

Only it looses Ferreyra. After four issues of action scenes, Ferreyra finally gets to do the big werewolf battle and he does a great job with it. There are two or three fantastic double page spreads this issue, with Ferreyra moving the action across them. Just wonderful energy.

As for the story? Sadly Gischler doesn’t really have an ending, so he combines a few traditional noir ones. There’s no painful series setup, though they could easily do a sequel.

It’s a good, solid comic, which is just fine.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Juan Ferreyra; colorists, Eduardo Ferreyra and Juan Ferreyra; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Kiss Me, Satan 4 (December 2013)

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I wish Gischler would just take his time. It’s a good issue–lots of nice developments, brisk pace–but in his rush, he leaves out a lot of things he could expand on.

This issue doesn’t just have more information on lead Barnabus Black, it has some comic moments with his angel boss and some funny narration. Gischler overcooks the narration–apparently intentionally to make it feel a little noir–but this time he lets it get humorous. It makes the read much more enjoyable.

And, since one is enjoying him or herself while reading the comic, the reader doesn’t want it to end too soon. Gischler does even worse and skips over to the bad guy and then some other bad guys. He doesn’t focus.

Ferreyra’s art is fine. There are some good moments, some less good. He can’t handle the dramatic scenes as well as the action ones.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Juan Ferreyra; colorists, Eduardo Ferreyra and Juan Ferreyra; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Clown Fatale 2 (December 2013)

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This issue of Clown, Gischler goes for out and out absurd, profoundly sad and some other things. It’s a joy to read, even if the sad moments drag in some reality. Gischler’s not willing to write off the series as fluff; he’s trying to give it some actual content. Except that content is never as good as the funny stuff.

The big fight scene at the end of the issue, involving Russian assassins masquerading as a circus knife throwing troupe, a gorilla, a lion, how is it not going to be funny. The least funny thing, for the most part, are the clown fatales. The crazy one–whose name either didn’t get mentioned this issue or just doesn’t matter–is Gischler’s go to for comic relief. She works real well.

The other characters… Well, Gischler makes a show of developing them, but he’s not trying too hard.

Clown’s crazy pulp.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; penciller, Maurizio Rosenzweig; inker and colorist, Moreno Dinisio; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Noir 1 (November 2013)

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I don’t know why I should keep reading Noir. It’s a perfectly serviceable comic for Dynamite to exploit a couple licenses they hold–The Shadow and Miss Fury–but there’s nothing else going on with it.

The art, from Andrea Mutti, is pretty good. So’s the writing, actually. Victor Gischler does a fine enough job with it. He’s got the Shadow teaming up with some Spanish lady spy to track down some kind of artifact. It feels a little like a pulp, but a pulp with some Indiana Jones type stuff thrown in. Only in the United States instead of Europe somewhere.

Gischler does okay with the Shadow’s narration and with the dialogue. He just doesn’t come up with a reason to keep going on the comic. It’s competent and disposable. I didn’t realize there were still people who blindly bought Shadow comics but Dynamite must think those people exist.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Andrea Mutti; colorist, Vladimir Popov; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Molly Mahan and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Clown Fatale 1 (November 2013)

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I sort of didn’t want to like Clown Fatale. It’s about four female clowns in a lame circus–where the circus owners moonlight as assassins. Given the Fatale in the title, I should have guessed they were sexy clowns. I didn’t, but they are sexy clowns. I’m not sure if Victor Gischler came up with this genre or if there are other examples….

Oh, they’re also kick-ass sexy clowns.

There are four of them; the lead, the two vaguely nondescript ones (except their race) and the psycho one. Gischler writes them some funny dialogue and he keeps the conversations going between four or five characters rather well. He never lets things go too long.

Maurizio Rosenzweig does okay on the art. When things are too static, not so much. Except his static cheesecake, he works at those panels. But both the action and humor are good.

Clown’s unexpectedly amusing.

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; penciller, Maurizio Rosenzweig; inker and colorist, Moreno Dinisio; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Kiss Me, Satan 3 (November 2013)

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Uh oh, I was supposed to be paying attention to the awkward flirting between the lead character and one of the witches. Gischler tries so hard for chemistry between the two of them it’s nauseating. Actually, the way the girl swoons for the guy reminds of Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman.

Otherwise, the issue’s reasonably okay. It’s mostly action, which doesn’t look great in Ferreyra’s somewhat painted art. But the scene has a couple unexpected moments and it moves well, static art or not.

Then comes the stuff with the witches, which works because Gischler writes the old witch lady so well. Ferreyra also renders her perfectly. She carries the second half of the issue. Gischler doesn’t bother giving anyone else as much personality. In the case of the protagonist, that lack of depth is already hurting things.

The series’s quality is evening out lower than I hoped; still, not bad.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Juan Ferreyra; colorists, Eduardo Ferreyra and Juan Ferreyra; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Kiss Me, Satan 1 (September 2013)

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I can’t believe I’m going to make this complaint–writer Victor Gischler has way too much structure for the first issue of Kiss Me, Satan. At least at the beginning.

He adopts a three act structure for the issue. He introduces protagonist Barnabas Black–apparently some kind of fallen angel trying to get back into Heaven–on the run from some demons. Except Barnabas isn’t the focus of the issue, but the leader of the werewolf pack.

Gischler gets to him and his problems in the second act. The third act is bringing everything together.

The comic is best when Barnabas isn’t around, especially when he’s not narrating. Gischler doesn’t do well with the narration; he makes it all sound hackneyed, but he and artist Juan Ferreyra are able to sell the rest.

Satan’s fast and often funny. But having a boring character for a protagonist’s never a good thing.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Juan Ferreyra; colorists, Eduardo Ferreyra and Juan Ferreyra; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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