Cluster

Cluster 2 (March 2015)

Cluster #2

There’s some nice development with Cluster this issue, but Brisson doesn’t have a good close for the issue. He seems to know it’s a problem because he goes into a flashback and shows another scene of the protagonist back when she was a partying socialite and not a prisoner.

Much of that nice development comes from Couceiro’s influence. Brisson gives him some opportunity for good character interactions–and some very complicated ones–and Couceiro runs with it. The personality they give the characters plays out nicely in quiet ways throughout the rest of the issue. Even if the cast isn’t being explained, Brisson and Couceiro are definitely making the reader more comfortable with them.

Brisson doesn’t plot out the action well, however. He rushes; he rushes the characters, he rushes the story, he rushes Couceiro. Cluster is a visually fantastic sci-fi comic without time to focus on the visuals.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

curb-stomp

Curb Stomp 1 (February 2015)

Curb Stomp #1

Curb Stomp, quite frankly, plays like a Troma remake of Repo Man. It’s post-apocalyptic, but not in a fantastical way, with its characters just trying to get by in a difficult world. The leads are the five or six members of the gang The Fevers. They’re punk rock and all women, as opposed to their rival gangs, who are coed and don’t have any major unified fashion statements going on.

Writer Ryan Ferrier worries more about cool characters than good dialogue and it works. His dialogue’s fine, affected, not realistic. He doesn’t plot out long scenes. He keeps it moving. A lot happens in the first issue, maybe two major plot points, which is nice to see in an indie limited series.

Devaki Neogi’s art reminds a little of Love and Rockets (in a good way) and the issue is a rather substantial success. Curb Stomp gets started strong.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Devaki Neogi; colorist, Neil Lalonde; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

tooth-and-claw

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 4 (February 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #4

Yeah, Dewey really can’t draw people. He’ll do this beautiful anthropomorphic giraffe and then the lame human character. Of course, the human character is only lame in how Dewey draws him; Busiek writes the character rather well.

Busiek brings Dusty–who the first entire issued followed–into the present narrative as the human’s sidekick. They go out and explore the world and discover things aren’t like Dusty, on the sky-ship, has been told. And all the art is beautiful. Except the human.

I can’t remember how to spell the human’s name, which is why I’m just calling him the human. Busiek goes for something close to Leonard, but there’s a Y in there somewhere.

There’s the behind the scenes corrupt and the evil, if dumb, owl. I was hoping Busiek would tone down the political intrigue a bit, but the issue works out well even with it hanging around.

CREDITS

Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterers, John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt; publisher, Image Comics.

ms-marvel-2014

Ms. Marvel 12 (May 2015)

Ms. Marvel #12

It’s an extremely impressive issue of Ms. Marvel from Wilson. Loki–the good version of Loki–guest-stars and gets involved with the life of Bruno and, through Bruno, Kamala, and through Kamala and Bruno, Ms. Marvel. It’s a classic Spider-Man coincidence but Wilson adorns it just right and homages with a great creativity.

There’s also the guest art from Elmo Bondoc. Bondoc’s art is outstanding, but thanks to Ian Herring’s gentle colors. Almost watercolor-y.

This issue of Ms. Marvel is where the series has arrived and achieved. It’s a Marvel comic, done with this not-Marvel art style, about a non-Marvel style hero; the art perfectly matches the story. But it’s not Marvel formula. It’s Wilson and her editors doing something really amazing with Ms. Marvel.

The last time Marvel was this cool was on The Mighty Thor. It’s been way too long between the two.

CREDITS

Loki in Love; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Elmo Bondoc; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Charles Beacham, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 2 (April 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Cruel, cruel cliffhanger. So cruel.

After an awesome–Doreen would agree with the adjective–issue of Squirrel Girl, writer North finds the perfect spot for a cliffhanger. Not so much for what’s going to happen next, but because of what’s happened just before. The way North plots the issue is fantastic. There’s a combination of Doreen in college, Doreen in the Marvel Universe as Squirrel Girl, Doreen as her own as Squirrel Girl.

Well, with Tippy-Toe, of course.

North has the most fun with the plot in the second half of the issue, with Doreen having to break into Stark Tower, but his best work is in how he establishes her friendship with roommate Nancy. North’s use of thought balloons reminds why they’re a great tool in the comic writer’s cache.

Henderson’s handling of Doreen on art is the important thing. The expressions have to work. And they do.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Jacob Thomas and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

gotham-by-midnight

Gotham by Midnight 4 (April 2015)

Gotham by Midnight #4

Well, Templesmith gets to draw the Spectre and it mostly works out. He gets to draw big giant Spectre even, which I wasn’t expecting. And big giant Spectre is like a big giant monster, fighting another big giant monster. Gotham by Midnight is definitely distinct. Even if Templesmith’s Batwing looks like a Batarang. And his panel arrangement doesn’t change to accommodate a giant-size character.

As for Fawkes, he jumps around the cast but doesn’t give them anything important to do. Story arc is almost over, it’s time to hurry. There are a couple hints of character development, but nothing substantial.

There’s also some of the explanation for the arc’s supernatural events. It seems way too large scale for what Fawkes has been doing in the comic. I’m curious to see how he finishes it, but will keep coming back for the Templesmith art regardless. It’s always interesting to see.

CREDITS

We Fight What We Become; writer, Ray Fawkes; artist, Ben Templesmith; letterer, Saida Temofonte; editors, Dave Wielgosz and Rachel Gluckstern; publisher, DC Comics.

Abigail-and-the-Snowman

Abigail and the Snowman 3 (February 2015)

Abigail and the Snowman #3

This issue of Abigail and the Snowman is Langridge’s strongest–it’s also the penultimate issue and the one where it’s clear Langridge could definitely keep this going longer. The issue’s kind of high adventure; it’s the expository in front of high adventure, but thanks to Langridge’s abilities, it moves beautifully.

The issue’s full of fantastic moments for Abigail. He even develops her father’s character through the interactions with her. It’s exceptionally thoughtful stuff. Langridge doesn’t even save his big moments for full page panels (just the action); the little character stuff he has in small panels, never breaking stride to draw attention to himself.

The entire comic takes place–with the exception of a few pages of Abigail and Claude playing–in one night. And not a long night. Langridge gets in a bunch of information (including Claude’s flashback) and keeps that great pace.

It’s great stuff, page after page.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Fred Stresing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

batgirl-35

Batgirl 39 (April 2015)

Batgirl #39

There’s a shocking amount of this comic book I don’t care about in the least. I’ve been tiring of Stewart and Fletcher’s somewhat incompetent Barbara, but at least they acknowledge her here. Sure, they make too many leaps of logic to get there, but they finally get to something.

The problem with Batgirl has been too much style over any substance. The creators are soft-relaunching a character (who’d just been soft-relaunched), integrating a whole bunch of difficult to mesh history, and trying to make the character younger. And they didn’t want to spend any time on Barbara. She had all the personality of a romantic lead in a gum commercial.

Do they give her a bunch more personality here? No. But Stewart and Fletcher do show they might be going somewhere and not somewhere defined by the comic’s pseudo-Brooklyn hipster thing. They’re working on their story.

Finally.

CREDITS

Batgirl vs. Burnside; writers, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher; pencillers, Stewart and Babs Tarr; inker, Tarr; colorist, Maris Wicks; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Dave Wielgosz and Chris Conroy; publisher, DC Comics.

mph

MPH 5 (February 2015)

MPH #5

Millar gets to a nice manipulative finish on MPH. He does give Fegredo a bunch of cool stuff to draw and the art’s great, but Millar has enough story for another five issues and he doesn’t want to tell it.

He suggests MPH is deeper for his lack of interest in proper storytelling, but it’s really not. It’s just more manipulative.

Half the issue is spent on a super-speed fight sequence. It’s pretty cool, actually. If it took the whole issue, it’d be even more cool. And then Millar could save the two big reveals for another issue, which would’ve worked a lot better.

But it still wouldn’t have been good. Because one of Millar’s reveals is a huge one and he tries to pass it off as small potatoes. It should be the defining element of the series; it’s not. Because it’s not flashy enough.

Still, beautiful art.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorists, Peter Doherty and Mike Spicer; letterer, Doherty; editors, Lucy Unwin and Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Ms. Marvel 11 (April 2015)

Ms. Marvel #11

Wilson wraps up this Ms. Marvel arc rather nicely. In fact, she finally does what I said Ms. Marvel should’ve done issues ago–she calls the cops. Not sure why she couldn’t call Wolverine, who’d be guest star value (oh, wait, I heard he’s dead), but still… calling for help’s a good move.

Alphona has some great art moments at the end of the issue. The art’s fine–even if the action scenes are confusing and not particularly rewarding–but the art at the end on all the characters (there are about two dozen roaming around) is great. There’s a lot of personality to that scene.

And the comic’s got personality too. Wilson’s final speeches for Kamala are a little much, but they’re sincere as far as the character goes.

The story arc ends with a big bang, but not much character development. Ms. Marvel is a sturdy comic book.

CREDITS

Generation Why, Part Four; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Adrian Alphona; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

manifest destiny

Manifest Destiny 13 (February 2015)

Manifest Destiny #13

It’s a bridging issue of Manifest Destiny. Dingess makes it seem full, starting with a different journal than the normal one, but he doesn’t do much with it. He gets the reader’s brain going in the first few pages, then doesn’t ask anything more of him or her.

There’s a little with Sacagawea this issue; more than usual, but it’s more hints, no answers. Dingess seems resolved to use her as little as possible, while constantly implying she could be doing so much more.

Otherwise, it’s just more rumblings of mutiny and vague flirting. And monsters. But possibly cute ones. It’s hard to tell with Roberts’s art how scary a monster’s supposed to be until it eats someone.

As usual, Manifest Destiny running just a bit longer would help–especially since Roberts is doing big panel arrangements (with lovely landscapes) to hide the brevity in the script. It’s too lean.

CREDITS

Writer, Chris Dingess; artist, Matthew Roberts; colorist, Owen Gieni; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

war-stories-children

War Stories 5 (January 2015)

War Stories #5

I wonder how this issue would be with a decent artist. Not even a good artist, just a decent one. One who clearly doesn’t have the time he needs to get the issue complete. Because Aira’s art is occasionally almost okay. He could be doing a better job. When it’s really bad, it’s because he’s rushing.

Regardless, it still really hurts the comic. Ennis is trying a different thing with this seventies-set story. He’s trying a different style of storytelling, he’s trying a different character relationship; he’s also going all out on the battle stuff. Aira can’t just not those elements competently, he doesn’t bring anything to the art.

There are also some Ennis problems with this issue. This War Stories arc features soldiers who spout lots of exposition, meaning they have to be very well informed. There’s no groundwork for that situation.

Ennis does keep his style fresh.

CREDITS

Children of Israel, Part Two: In Fire They Will Come; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Tomas Aira; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy 18 (February 2015)

Sons of Anarchy #18

It’s an okay flashback issue from Brisson and Bergara. It might have more meaning if one is familiar with the “Sons of Anarchy” television program, not just the comic book. I don’t even remember the protagonist of this issue–Happy–having much to do in the comic overall.

In this issue, set in the eighties, he goes to prison and goes a little crazy and runs off and joins SAMCRO. Brisson does reasonably well making the character sympathetic, but he’s never likable. He’s just surrounded by bigger jerks, not necessarily more dangerous ones. Brisson doesn’t have time to explore that aspect of the story, which is too bad. It’s more interesting than the plot.

Some of that interest problem is because of Bergara. His scenes set in prison come off like Archie In Oz just because the faces are too genial. Works against the mood.

And the ending’s too rushed.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Matías Bergara; colorist, Paul Little; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Mary Gumport and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Letter-44

Letter 44 14 (February 2015)

Letter 44 #14

It’s a fairly decent fill-in issue on Letter 44. Drew Moss guest illustrates a flashback to before the mission issue. Soule recaps the relationship between Overholt and Willets; I don’t remember them on the mission. Soule expects a lot from his monthly readers. Letter 44 isn’t written for the trade in terms of plotting, but definitely in the details.

Moss’s art is nearly okay. It could be stronger in a lot of places, but it moves reasonably well. Willets, the enlisted mechanic savant, asks too many questions about Project Monolith and gets in trouble. Overholt is around to help him out. Neither have much character depth and Soule overdoes the military dialogue. He has to overdo it, actually. Otherwise the issue wouldn’t work.

Between Soule’s thoughtfulness and deliberate storytelling–and Moss’s amiable, if lacking, art–the issue’s fine. The plot and revealations aren’t compelling, but don’t need to be.

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; artist, Drew Moss; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Crank!; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.