Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon 8 (January 2015)

Flash Gordon #8

I’m really hoping there’s an explanation for Flash Gordon, like Dynamite’s licensing deal changed or something along those lines. Because it’s hard to believe Parker and Shaner put all their previous effort into a comic where the majority of pages went to advertisements for upcoming comics. And their amazing Flash Gordon adaptation only gets something like twelve pages to finish.

Shaner gets to do some nice Alex Raymond nods and Parker gets in one to the movie, but there’s no enthusiasm anymore. They aren’t doing anything original (actually, I’m not sure if Parker did it intentionally, but he does rip off the ending of a recent British cult television series).

Of course, if the explanation is a licensing deal, they are kind of stuck. Maybe Parker and Shaner will go on to something without such a disappointing finish. Best of luck on future projects and so on.

It’s gorgeous, empty.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordi Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

gotham-by-midnight

Gotham by Midnight 3 (March 2015)

Gotham by Midnight #3

On second thought, maybe seeing Templesmith fully realize the Spectre isn’t a good idea for Gotham by Midnight. He has to handle big supernatural action this issue and it doesn’t come off. It’s too constrained and his style is no good for discerning the action without narration.

Templesmith’s regular action–in this issue, it’s a flashback to a hostage crisis of sorts–works out fine. The personality carries it, makes it worth figuring it all out. But the big stuff? Not so much.

As for the story, it’s Fawkes still building the B plot. The A plot has Corrigan and Drake (the names are good enough to be memorable, which is no small compliment–though, of course, Corrigan doesn’t count) heading to a hospital for a possession or something. And Drake’s flashback.

It all ties together in time for a haunting soft cliffhanger.

It’s consistently entertaining, with mostly good art.

CREDITS

We Become What We Fight; 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 2 (January 2015)

Abigail and the Snowman #2

Abigail and the Snowman continues with Langridge a little more focused than last time. The story takes place over a couple days, with Claude (the Yeti) going with Abigail to school on her birthday.

Langridge actually fits in a bunch of information–both through dialogue, like Abigail talking briefly about her deceased mother, and through implication, Abigail’s father not letting her go to work. Meanwhile, there are the Men in Black trying to find Claude, who’s a big hit with all of Abigail’s new classmates (they can see Yeti, adults cannot).

The issue’s pacing is phenomenal; Langridge gets in multiple set pieces, including elaborate ones like Abigail arriving at school with Claude and his later run-in with the Men in Black. It’s a full issue, but there’s also a nice density to the stuff around the scenes. Langridge even trusts the reader to remember a throwaway line.

It’s superb.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Fred Stresing; editor, Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

tooth-and-claw

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 3 (January 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #3

Busiek finally seems to be going somewhere with The Autumnlands. It’s unfortunate he needed a human to get the story moving, but Busiek turns what appears to be a contrived new character into just the thing the series needs.

The human savior from the past is a soldier with cybernetic implants or something. I’m sure Busiek will get around to explaining; he hints at a lot of stuff here, including have the guy use slang. And speak the language of the beast. It gives the reader better access to the world of the characters.

Speaking of characters, there’s a lot of good character development this issue. Busiek concentrates, he doesn’t look around too much, he doesn’t try focusing on anyone too much. Not even the teenage dog kid who was apparently once protagonist but not anymore.

Dewey’s art is still gorgeous, with one exception. He doesn’t draw humans particularly well.

CREDITS

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

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 30 (April 1986)

Judge Dredd #30

It’s a tough issue. Not in a bad way, but in a post-Apocalypse War, the future is a tough place, tough issue. Wagner, Grant and Ezquerra do both stories. The writing is better than the art, but Ezquerra does pretty well with it. There’s humor and humanity. Can’t ask for much more.

The first story has Dredd dealing with a robot city’s tyrannical ruler. Wagner and Grant manage to make it silly and still rather affecting; maybe because Dredd seems to be in actual danger after a point. And the handling of the War’s aftermath is fantastic.

The second story–the much longer one–has a fungus outbreak putting the struggling Mega-City One in danger and Dredd has to race to stop it. It’s a rather good story, with Wagner and Grant roaming with the focus for a while.

The toughness never feels overdone or tongue in cheek.

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy 17 (January 2015)

Sons of Anarchy #17

Every third or fourth issue of Sons of Anarchy, I write something about how it’s amazing what Brisson is doing with this licensed title, especially one about bikers, which doesn’t seem the most natural fit for a comic.

I need to change up that practice as of now.

Sons of Anarchy is the best book people aren’t reading. What Brisson does this issue in terms of narrative plotting–executing a bunch of little twists to turn the book from a talking heads to a montage to an action story–is exceptional. And Bergara’s art is essential too. So much happens and he fits it all in.

Brisson is committed to not let Anarchy be disposable. The issue he and Bergara create here is fun, tough, subtle. And Brisson plots it out as only a comic can be plotted out.

He’s using a licensed comic to advertise the medium’s unique strengths.

CREDITS

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

crossed-plus

Crossed + One Hundred 2 (December 2014)

Crossed + One Hundred #2

Moore takes the comic to Graceland–sans Elvis cameo–because even though Moore has a lot of pop culture references in Crossed, they’re never cheap. They’re never too obvious, they’re never forced. A few of them had me wondering where Alan Moore would have heard about them, given I don’t picture him on Facebook reading memes.

The comic continues to be fantastic. The language he’s using for the future apocalypse is still fantastic. He even paces out the comic to have a good finish. Even though he’s doing a limited series, the issue itself satisfies with its conclusion. Once again, shocking to see Moore putting so much thought and effort into work-for-hire. He even gets in some really nice character moments.

As for Andrade’s art… it works out. It’s not the best it could be, but he gets how to break out the story for it to succeed.

CREDITS

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

ODY-C

ODY-C 2 (January 2015)

ODY-C #2

With the second issue of ODY-C, which is definitely easier to follow than the first, it’s still unclear why one should read the comic. Unless he or she is really, really interested in Homer and The Odyssey. Because Fraction and Ward moving the story to a matriarchal galactic adventure really isn’t enough.

Not with Fraction relying on occasional curse words and breaking out of the “space classical” language of the regular exposition to wake up the reader.

For people who love Ward’s art, it might be worth it. But Fraction isn’t doing anything new here. A distant Odysseus who comes off as unlikable? No, that one’s never been done before. Fraction doesn’t have a different take on the characters, he just puts them in different clothing. And it’s not like it’s Gone With the Wind or something subtly familiar.

It’s The Odyssey. It’s been adapted for hundreds of years.

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Christian Ward; colorists, Ward and Dee Cunniffe; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; publisher, Image Comics.

batgirl-35

Batgirl 38 (March 2015)

Batgirl #38

Something happens this issue of Batgirl. The gimmick starts to get a little old. Barbara using Batgirl to be popular on social media, Barbara going after a reality TV bad boy, Barbara dating a cop who thinks Batgirl is a menace. All of a sudden–and having Dinah point out all Barbara’s inconsistent behaviors doesn’t help–all of a sudden, Stewart and Fletcher seem like they’ve gone too far.

They’ve lost Barbara Gordon. Their new Barbara isn’t so much a soft reboot as an entirely new character. One who isn’t very bright, who’s kind of shallow, who’s not a particularly good protagonist. The reader is supposed to be second guessing her throughout the entire issue. Why read a comic where you’re not supposed to worry about the protagonist but about her being dumb?

There’s still some charm thanks to Tarr’s artwork, but the story apparently is stuck on loop play.

CREDITS

Likeable; 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.

Ghosted

Ghosted 16 (January 2015)

Ghosted #16

It’s a done-in-one setting up the next story arc, with Williamson following the villain through his evil plans in a small German town. Juan Jose Ryp does the art, which leads to some crazy riot scenes, but the best moments of Ryp’s art are actually the kids playing. It’s a strange thing to see from Ryp (and in Ghosted) and it’s rather nice.

Actually, Ryp now does a lot of points for shading on faces and it gets annoying fast. Like it’s a Photoshop filter or something.

The story’s decent. Williamson has a lot of fun not just with the villain but setting up the situation in the town. When Jackson finally does appear towards the end of the comic to get the set up going, he’s out of place.

Williamson doesn’t just have fun with the issue, he crafts it very well. It feels enthusiastic and finished.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

podcast

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 20

Good comics: Crossed +100, Birthright, Copperhead, ODY-C, The Fade Out, Lazarus, Manifest Destiny, War Stories, They’re Not Like Us, Gotham by Midnight, Trees, Cowl, Ghosted, Robocop, Nailbiter, Kingdom of the Wicked, Squirrel Girl, Antman, Multiversity (Pax Americana, Thunderworld), Jupiters Legacy

Other stuff:
Jeff Lester and Graham McMilian, whats up with that?
New PDFs

Bad comics: Lady Killer, Star Wars

One last thing: Image V Convergence: Dawn of the New Mainstream

you can also subscribe on iTunes…

star-wars-marvel-2015

Star Wars 1 (March 2015)

Star Wars #1

There’re a lot of politics in the first issue of Star Wars. Some of it is just Jason Aaron trying to make the Star Wars universe makes sense for thinking reader, which is always been a problem. Star Wars is not deep.

And Aaron’s script for Star Wars turns out not to be very deep either. He has the obligatory Darth Vader appearance, some throwback references to the last movie. Marvel’s Star Wars series is set immediately following the original movie, just like that Marvel Star Wars series from the seventies. So why read another one? Is it supposed to be the John Cassaday art?

Hopefully not, because the art is pretty lame. Cassaday doesn’t have a lot of enthusiasm for the spacecraft or the setting and he goes for photo reference on the main cast but gets lazy almost every third panel.

Star Wars is lame, lazy and redundant.

CREDITS

Skywalker Strikes; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, John Cassaday; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Charles Beacham and Jordan D. White; publisher, Marvel Comics.

copperhead

Copperhead 5 (January 2015)

Copperhead #5

Faerber wraps up the first arc–and the sheriff’s first case–in a rapid-fire issue of Copperhead. Most of the scenes only take three or four pages so there are a lot of them; they’re all fantastic, starting with the opening scene between the sheriff and the android.

There are a number of surprises in the issue, but Faerber handles them all gradually. His characters are thinking and acting; it’s all incredibly active. It’s an interesting way to handle a procedural because the solution to the crime isn’t as interesting as how the characters go about reacting to it, both the police solving it and the survivors processing it.

And Godlewski basically gets to recap all the settings of the previous issues–starting with some fast action in the desert–so the comic always looks great.

Faerber ends the arc with his cast in place. Copperhead’s great stuff.

CREDITS

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

lazarus

Lazarus 14 (January 2015)

Lazarus #14

Rucka deals with some really big issues in the front half of the issue–like finally making it clear where Forever comes from (or at least where her brother says she comes from), not to mention the resolution to the kidnapped brother arc.

The second half of the issue has a little psychological fallout and then the big political fallout from the first half. Unfortunately, Rucka overplays the political fallout. It’s interesting stuff, but it’s not dramatic. Lark can do talking heads. Instead of doing talking heads, though, Rucka has him do… listening heads. It’s just not dramatic, it’s hard to keep interest.

And then the cliffhanger, which could have been really dramatic, is quizzical. Rucka assumes readers are rather familiar with the supporting cast without giving them any reminders. It’s written for the trade–not in terms of not enough action, but that familiarity.

But the first half’s awesome.

CREDITS

Conclave, Part Four; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.