Oh, no, it’s another one with potential.
Smith doesn’t resolve the cliffhanger–he just has Bruce running off to avoid it. Bruce and Silver in Aspen, even in the few scenes they have, is terrible. Their trip is juxtaposed against Tim Drake Robin narrating. Smith writes all the Robin narrations the same, so it’s bland but not terrible.
Silver barely has any lines, which is great.
And then Flanagan pays an homage to the sixties show and Smith has a Tim Burton movie line in the dialogue… They’re finally being as obvious as they should be. If Gyre’s just lucky fan fiction, Smith should be aware enough to embrace it.
There’s a slight hiccup towards the end, but it has a surprisingly effective close. Smith all of a sudden decides to be authentic with people’s emotions.
It’s the first nearly okay issue.
I’m going to regret making that compliment.
Mere Anarchy; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.
Southworth has a co-coloring credit this issue, which might explain why all of a sudden the coloring has to do sixty percent of the art’s work. It’s not just shadows, it’s perspective on people, it’s depth, it’s terrible.
Sadly, the corresponding rise in writing quality–when Southworth’s art gets even worse–doesn’t happen here. So it’s not corresponding, last issue was a fluke.
Rucka breaks the issue out into scenes. There’s a big scene with multiple stages, a small scene, another small scene, then the cliffhanger. Maybe something else happens in between but the cliffhanger shows Rucka doesn’t get the downtrodden detective genre.
He ends the issue with Dex up. Except it’s issue three so clearly she’ll have a reversal of fortune.
Another odd thing about the book is the lack of personality to the setting. Southworth draws landmarks; Rucka doesn’t do anything with them, they’re just photo references.
The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case, Part Three; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorists, Rico Renzi and Southworth; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.
Grant Morrison and Mark Millar take over the book, starting with Alec Holland–a human one–waking up in Peru. Swamp Thing was just a bad trip but he’s better now.
It’s a good idea of how to relaunch the character, only they don’t even keep the concept the entire issue. Abby shows up about halfway through, then some people in Chester’s house, then something looking like Swamp Thing.
All while Alec Holland is in Peru getting stoned.
The structure’s a mess–half the comic carefully exploring the new Alec, the other half a lot of action involving the old Alec. Morrison and Millar are obviously trying to get the reader curious, but they don’t actually do anything else.
Phil Hester’s art is nice. He handles the human scenes with a lot of emotion and the horror elements are definitely disturbing.
The lack of personality makes the writers seem desperate.
Vegetable Man; writers, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.
Not all of Doc Unknown is terrible. Ryan Cody’s designs are pretty good. The series feels a little noirish, with a Killer Croc knock-off as the villain (his design isn’t good) but it feels somewhat retro. The hero, Doc Unknown, feels very Republic serial. And Cody’s art isn’t terrible. At times, the comic at least looks professional.
Sadly, it never reads professional. Writer and creator Fabian Rangel Jr. writes some really bad dialogue. It’s not even bad expository dialogue. He can’t even write a greeting well. He also likes splitting sentences between panels to show ironic turns of events.
It’s the pits.
He also goes for every cheap trick he can find–actually, I think it’s more of a Hellboy with superheroes knock-off than Republic serial. He should’ve hired himself a competent writer.
The backup, about a different superhero suffering depression, is pretty dreadful too.
It’s bad stuff.
The Museum of Madness; letterer, Ed Brisson. The Ghost & The Time Machine. Writer, Fabian Rangel Jr.; artist, Ryan Cody; publisher, Believe in Comics.
Uh, oh, there are getting to be things I like here. Smith has turned it into a domestic–Batman fights crime while Silver waits home for him. The stuff with the new goat guy revealing his face to Bruce too soon is dumb; Smith can only rationalize comic book logic so far.
But it opens with a little bit about the relative lack of danger Silver Age goof villains had–before the Joker appeared (while not technically accurate, Smith sells it)–Smith’s trying things a little again. He’s treating Widening Gyre like it’s disconnected from the other Batman comics, which I do like.
He still writes Silver poorly. One can tell he’s writing the dialogue for Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow. He also writes Catwoman poorly–and Flanagan draws her even worse–but he’s trying to give Batman a grown-up problem.
The ambition is nice. Comic’s still lame though.
The Centre Cannot Hold; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.
The art gets worse this issue. Much, much worse. Southworth quits drawing noses all of a sudden. And the comic being in color does nothing to help it. In black and white, Southworth would have had to do some work, to finish an object. Instead, he lets the colors fill in the blanks and they can’t because Southworth hasn’t got the objects in place to be colored.
Ugly, ugly comic.
But this issue’s a little better. There’s a definite surprise at the end. Even the bad stuff–like Dex flirting with a possible suspect–isn’t as bad as it could be. Maybe because Rucka opens with the worst possible scene, a DEA agent warning Dex off the case.
Maybe if Rucka were trying something different with Stumptown, instead of doing a genre standard. It reads like a TV show, which seems to be Rucka’s goal, but not a successful one.
The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorist, Rico Renzi; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.
Foreman relies heavily on dumb pop psychology to “cure” Alec, but Rebecca Guay on pencils and DeMulder on inks make up for some of it. Black Orchid and her sidekick guest star, traveling through Alec’s mind (literally… he’s turned it into a plant art installation in the swamp).
There’s some really bad dialogue and some strange ideas Foreman never really explores (why does Alec’s superego parrot Superman’s truth and justice ideals). It does read somewhat slow, but the art’s fantastic at the beginning so only the end is sludgy.
Literally nothing is resolved from the previous issue. Alec has just shut down, which probably wouldn’t be allowed since he’s got to protect the Green. Having a Black Orchid tie-in doesn’t fit the story at all. Foreman doesn’t dwell on the dumber leftovers of Collins’s run, however.
It’s not a good comic, but Guay’s great and Foreman’s ambitions aren’t trite.
The Mind Fields, Part Two; writer, Dick Foreman; penciller, Rebecca Guay; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.
This issue’s easily the best and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s a romance montage–Bruce and Silver off in paradise during the day, Batman out at night. There’s some stuff with the goat vigilante, who Smith writes like Brody from Mallrats and that scene is awful… and Smith writes Silver awful and the whole thing of unbelievably rich people romancing is lame… But, somehow, the issue is a lot better than expected.
It’s awful to be sure, but Smith’s trying something in his Batman narration. Bruce is learning. These self-observations are trite and beneath Dr. Phil, but Smith is trying.
Flanagan’s art doesn’t help. He gives all the superheroes besides Bruce long, dirty nineties hair. Tim Drake Robin looks like a girl.
Smith does get in an extra guest star–Aquaman–who he writes a little better than Batman, but not much.
I still loathe the comic though.
Things Fall Apart; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.
I was trying to figure out what was wrong with this issue of Stumptown–other than Greg Rucka being really too excited with the idea of a rock and roll case for his detective (he and Matthew Southworth pace the comic like a detective show) and then I noticed.
Southworth drew this comic on a computer. A tablet computer, one of those tablet things you plug into a computer, whatever… His line work is atrocious. It’s boxy and there’s no attention to detail.
It’s really ugly looking.
As for the story, Rucka does a little character work with Dex, the detective, and some bad work with the supporting cast. In the text back matter, he talks about “The Rockford Files” but he’s got Southworth creating his actors. And Southworth doesn’t create interesting actors.
The case, which is seemingly innocuous, immediately becomes dangerous. It’s poorly paced and way too busy.
The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case, Part One; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorist, Rico Renzi; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.
Oh, good grief. This issue ties in to Swamp Thing, with Black Orchid and Sherilyn the hooker with a heart of gold heading to Louisiana. Black Orchid, it turns out, is a Swamp Thing expert and thinks she can help him through his relationship troubles.
Foreman doesn’t even try to explain how Black Orchid knows so much about Swampy. Maybe she’s been reading the comics.
But until the lame walk through the swamp mind of Swamp Thing (he’s physically creating his thoughts out of plants), Foreman has Sherilyn narrating the issue. Except, however, when he opens it with his idiotic reporter guy.
The reporter falls victim to a laughing fit; a Joker cameo, unfortunately, does not materialize.
Thompson and Woch do okay in the swamp, but all the human scenes–Foreman centers on Sherilyn–are rather rough going. The artists being bored with the writing is never a good sign.
The Mind Fields, Part One; writer, Dick Foreman; pencillers, Jill Thompson and Rebecca Guay; inker, Stan Woch; colorists, George Freeman and Digital Chameleon; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Julie Rottenberg and Lou Stathis; publisher, Vertigo.
More flashbacks, more guest stars… and some fat jokes. The child murderer at the open is practically a lookalike for Silent Bob. Batman keeps thinking of him as the fat guy, but he doesn’t actually catch him, someone else does.
Then Silver St. Cloud shows up. I’m skipping some of the lame narration to get to Flanagan and Smith having a disconnect. Once Silver shows up, Smith’s got Batman going on and on about his age–and Silver’s. Except Flanagan draws them both basically as twenty somethings. Certainly not as people in their late thirties or forties. It’s unclear what Smith’s going for.
Smith writes Silver worse than he writes Batman. He also writes Gordon poorly. Maybe Alfred isn’t terrible. Superman is all right, I guess. But there’s more than enough bad Batman to make up for the rest.
The cliffhanger is a success though, Smith manages a good surprise.
The Falconer; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.
Ennis wraps up Battlefields this issue. Not just Anna’s story, but the series in general–he puts a close on how he’s been telling these war stories. He might be able to pick it up again, but it’ll have to feel different.
He jumps ahead again–Anna and Mouse are in a prison camp for ten or twelve years, wasting away while their nemesis has become their jailer. There’s a lot of back and forth between Anna and the jailer. This issue’s a lot about gender. Ennis does great with it, but Braun wins for the scene where Anna finally loses her cool.
And the ending. It’s long, unpredictable, sad, tragic, glorious. It feels very Russian, at least how people think things are Russian when they mean it as a compliment. Throughout this arc, Ennis has consistently written himself into impossible corners and deftly brought himself out.
It’s wonderful work.
The Fall and Rise of Anna Kharkova, Part Three; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.
I’m not sure Collins’s version of adult relationships would even work in a kids cartoon. Odd place to start, but she really does expect after Abby running off with ponytail guy–willfully abandoning Tefé as a freak–Alec would all of a sudden make house with Lady Jane?
And then there’s Constantine pointing out if Abby really does care about her kid, she’s not really worth much. Except Collins wrote Abby’s adventures with her as the sympathetic protagonist.
Oh, and the hair. Alec gets rid of the grey Swamp Thing look and goes back to the normal one. But then for the finish he grows big long green rock star hair. It’s idiotic.
This issue’s Collins’s last one, thank goodness. Her run started so strong and then got so unbearably bad.
There’s nothing to recommend this issue–though Eaton’s better than usual–except how speedily it reads. It’s simply awful.
And in the End…; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Scot Eaton; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Tim Harkins; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.