princess-ugg

Princess Ugg 6 (December 2014)

Princess Ugg #6

Naifeh unleashes Ülga in battle, which leads to some decent pages, but he doesn’t let her do much fighting. The story keeps getting in the way. There are a lot of plot twists for just one issue–the worst being how her nemesis is nasty to Ülga even when she’s saving the day–and the ending is a little too light.

It’s an amusing issue and has a decent presence, but as the conclusion winds down… it’s clear Naifeh didn’t really have much story to tell. To tell the issue right, he would’ve needed twice the space, maybe three times. There are a lot of little battles and all those plot twists.

He doesn’t seem to like drawing the battle scenes, which is problematic since he’s showing how perfect Ülga is for them. And he gets downright lazy with the art on some of the bad guys.

Ugg’s got problems.

B 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Ted Naifeh; colorists, Warren Wucinich and Naifeh; letterer, Wucinich; editors, Robin Herrera and Jill Beaton; publisher, Oni Press.

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dredd uprise

Dredd: Uprise 1 (October 2014)

Dredd: Uprise #1

Reading Uprise, it’s hard to see the point. It’s another sequel comic to the Dredd movie, which isn’t clear–if one doesn’t read that information on the cover–until the judges show up in their movie costumes. They take a while show up; writer Arthur Wyatt jumps from regular people to judges to bad people to other people to bad judges. It’s all over the place.

The issue takes place over three days. There are riots brewing in a slum getting a high rise development. It’s unclear why the story of these riots is worth reading about. It’s a Dredd comic where Judge Dredd just barks at the rookie judge instead of listening to her.

It’s unclear why Dredd, the movie, needs a pointless comic book sequel.

Paul Davidson’s art is pretty good. He doesn’t have anything interesting to draw–but his visual pacing is good.

Shame Wyatt’s plotting isn’t.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Arthur Wyatt; artist, Paul Davidson; colorist, Chris Blythe; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Matt Smith; publisher, 2000 AD.

bitch-planet

Bitch Planet 1 (December 2014)

Bitch Planet #1

The back matter of Bitch Planet describes a bait and switch in the issue. The person writing said back matter doesn’t use “bait and switch” as a pejorative phrase, just a description.

But she is correct–it is a bait and switch–and I’m being pejorative.

Bitch Planet is a really cool idea. Oppressive future society, interplanetary travel, women in prison, but not exploitative. What could be an awesome sci-fi comic–and still can be a good one–is a little too straightforward.

It’s like writer Kelly Sue DeConnick had a property with a sensational title and a great concept and she ran with it as an important property instead of a solid story. The multiple surprises–or bait and switches–are cheap. They distract from what the story could be to instead… I don’t know… give Bitch Planet weight.

Nice art from Valentine De Landro.

It’s rather problematic.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Valentine De Landro; colorist, Cris Peters; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Image Comics.

tooth-and-claw

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 2 (December 2014)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #2

It turns out the savior of the animal Earth of Tooth & Claw is–shock of all shocks–a human. A savage, but honorable warrior, which makes sense because something about the way Busiek writes the exposition about the savior (before his species was revealed) reminds of Conan.

Oh, and it’s The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw now. I thought it was just a style thing (since the people all crashed down to the ground from the floating cities), but apparently it’s a trademark thing.

The result is the story having, so far, nothing to do with autumn. Actually, the issue takes place in one night with a herd of boar attacking–they’re happy the city-dwellers have been brought low–and the savior hatching. There’s arguing and some character stuff from the previous issue’s protagonist, but Busiek’s going for action and lots of events.

It’s fine, but Dewey’s art makes it worthwhile.

B 

CREDITS

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

crossed-plus

Crossed + One Hundred 1 (November 2014)

Crossed + One Hundred #1

Who would have thought Crossed + One Hundred wouldn’t just be good, but would be some really strong mainstream stuff from Alan Moore. He gets to create a language–future English–which undoubtedly gave him a lot to think about (since the language also shows how the world has changed since the apocalypse and what’s important and what’s not). And he gets to imagine a future civilization.

Not surprisingly, it’s upbeat. Moore shows the humanity both in his cast of survivors, but also in the crossed. It’s very strange because they’re not sympathetic yet, but he’s got a anthropologic distance from them and it does make them very interesting.

A lot of the details don’t have anything to do with Crossed and are probably just ideas Moore has had kicking around for a while. But he fits them perfectly to the world such a calamity might create.

Gabriel Andrade’s art’s excellent.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Moore; artist, Gabriel Andrade; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

batgirl-35

Batgirl 37 (February 2015)

Batgirl #37

There’s a somewhat pointless plot twist at the end of this issue. It’s sensational, when the writers haven’t actually set up a point for it. They aren’t asking profound questions or making profound statements, they’re actually just making fun of their villain.

Which is, to some degree, a Batgirl thing to do.

Until that point, the issue is pretty good. There’s too little interaction between Barbara and Dinah though. Stewart and Fletcher use Dinah–to good effect–for comic relief, but they don’t have her functioning as a real character, which hurts this issue. Especially at the end when she pops in just because they need snark.

There’s some rather nice art from Stewart and Tarr during Batgirl’s action sequences too. Lots of foreground and background information important to the panel; they’re a good team.

It’s a rather well-executed comic, with lots of great moments… and a weak conclusion.

B 

CREDITS

Double Exposure; 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.

star-spangled-war-stories

Star Spangled War Stories 4 (January 2015)

Star Spangled War Stories #4

Okay, so G.I. Zombie is kind of lame when he’s on his own. Not the comic, but the character. When he’s running around this issue, talking to himself, it’s really lame. If Gray and Palmiotti want to have some reason he speaks to himself in expository dialogue, they should introduce it. His origin is still in question… if he’s a motormouth, so be it. But establish it.

Otherwise, not much happens in the issue. The army shows up and the zombie crisis gets contained to some degree. The better stuff is with G.I. Zombie’s partner, Carmen. She’s got the flashback at the beginning of the issue, she’s the one who gets to find the domestic terrorists’ amazing Bond villain base.

There are some decent moments with G.I. Zombie, but the writers put too much emphasis on his lame dialogue and not enough on his experiences in the issue.

It’s annoying.

B- 

CREDITS

Exit Strategy; writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, David Piña and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

copperhead

Copperhead 4 (December 2014)

Copperhead #4

This issue of Copperhead returns the series to its previous level of quality, which is fantastic, because I really wanted to love this comic and it looks like I still can.

It’s a very busy issue. Faerber wasn’t busy last issue (the weak one); he’s busy here, he keeps Clara busy, he keeps Boo busy, he keeps the supporting cast busy. There’s stuff with the doctor–an actual scene before he gets drug into the issue’s primary subplot–and there’s stuff at the beginning, possible back story for Clara. It all works out beautifully.

I say possible back story because Faerber tells this story about her, which may or may not be true, then has a whole montage sequence showing it might be true. It’s just a cool way of plotting out the issue… getting the reader wondering, then busy with other stuff, then delivering.

Copperhead is back on track.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Jay Faerber; artist, Scott Godlewski; colorist, Ron Riley; letterer, Thomas Mauer; publisher, Image Comics.

star-spangled-war-stories

Star Spangled War Stories 3 (December 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories #3

I still don’t know why I like Star Spangled War Stories so much. Maybe it’s because of Gray and Palmiotti’s pace. This comic–featuring the cast of “Duck Dynasty” unleashing a zombie plague on the United States (the rural United States)–moves at a breakneck pace. About the only time it calms down for a moment is when G.I. Zombie’s partner, whose name I don’t remember, stops at a diner and there’s character development between her and a domestic terrorist whose organization she’s infiltrated.

Otherwise, it’s all action. Only it’s G.I. Zombie running through this small town, trying to help people–Gray and Palmiotti establish the characters and settings quickly (sometimes during action sequences) but they still stick.

It’s kind of like a monster movie from the fifties, only with a lot of action and some very modern sensibilities.

Plus, the strangeness of Hampton doing big action still works wonders.

B+ 

CREDITS

Small Town Welcome; writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, David Piña and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

sally-of-the-wasteland

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.

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 28 (February 1986)

Judge Dredd #28

It’s almost a great issue of Dredd. The opening story, with Wagner and Grant sending Dredd into the Cursed Earth (no longer called Mutieland) with a bunch of cadets for a test, is awesome. Smith’s art is good, the story has a nice flow and the supporting cast of cadets is good. It’s probably the best mix of narrative and Wagner wanting to expound on the judges’ rigorous training.

Unfortunately, the second half of the issue has two Judge Anderson stories and neither of them is particularly good. The first one at least has good art from Kim Raymond. Raymond gives it almost a horror comic vibe, which is appropriate given Anderson is fighting a demon.

The last story, with too busy art from Ian Gibson, is really lame. Grant and Wagner write the final one together, with Wagner writing the first Anderson alone. So he’s worse with help, apparently.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artists, Ron Smith, Kim Raymond and Ian Gibson; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame, Tony Jacob and Steve Potter; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

wool

Wool 6 (August 2014)

Wool #6

The last issue reveals Wool doesn’t just have a pacing problem or a perspective problem, it has a scale problem. Palmiotti and Gray never make the silo society seem real enough. They never show the silo in a way to make one believe anyone besides the cast lives there.

It’s not imaginative enough in how they’re adapting the comic. Sure, Broxton’s art is a little claustrophobic, but there’s no opportunity for it to be anything else.

Without a sense of the society, the writers don’t give the characters a setting, so their implied back stories and histories have less–or no–resonance. It hurts the comic immensely and could have been easily fixed.

It’s a fairly good final issue. The tension is honest, the plot twists are not. They never get enough time, but Gray, Palmiotti and Braxton are all professionals. Wool ends competently, but without anything special about it.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist, Jimmy Broxton; letterer, Bill Tortolini; editor, Matt Hoffman; publisher, Jet City Comics.

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 27 (January 1986)

Judge Dredd #27

It’s an uneven issue. Except the art, of course. Smith does a great job on the art. And Wagner and Grant do have some highs. The issue opens with the low–and the only time there’s a lot of forced symbolism about Dredd and the law. I think it comes up later, but the writers actually counter it.

The highlight of the issue is about Dredd being on graffiti detail. It’s not a violent story at all and it sort of just shows regular life for a kid in Mega-City One. Because Grant and Wagner open with it being a Dredd story, then switch the protagonist, it feels expansive, something these short stories usually don’t.

There’s a so-so story about a cult and then a murder mystery. The latter tries too hard with future details, but it’s solidly written. Wagner and Grant have a good tone this issue.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artists, Ron Smith and Robin Smith; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

war stories

War Stories 3 (November 2014)

War Stories #3

If Ennis had just started out with the story he finishes telling in this issue, it would have been a much more satisfying story arc. He doesn’t want to seem too sentimental, I guess. But he starts narrating it in the past tense, directly referring to the war being over, so his protagonist clearly makes it.

Only the protagonist isn’t really telling his war story. Ennis has this interesting thing–a war story where the narration doesn’t engage with all the visuals, the protagonist has forgotten the details, they’ve ceased to be the important thing about this period of his life. It could have been an awesome little story.

Instead, Ennis tries to correct it all this issue and he rushes through it and it doesn’t work. It’s well-written, it’s just obvious and desperate.

And Burns’s detail on the war battle can’t make up for his terrible human beings.

B 

CREDITS

Castles in the Sky, Part Three of Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Keith Burns; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.