100% 1 (August 2002)

100% #1

What's 100% about? It's about this club–the Cat Shack. One of the characters is a dancer there, another is a manager, another is a busboy, another is a prospective dancer. Writer and artist Paul Pope uses the club–which also has a dancer get murdered at the start of the story–as a central location; it's the embodiment of the setting. But Pope gets away from it enough throughout, it never feels forced.

Maybe because the opening scene is away from it. Pope's panel composition and flow are so intricately executed, it would be no surprise if he made sure he kept away from the club just as carefully.

The issue, which introduces the four main characters, has a couple narrators. One is busboy John, the other is dancer Kimberly. They don't intersect, except glancingly. Pope starts the characters deep, then just fills them out to show how deep.

It's phenomenal work.



Writer and artist, Paul Pope; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, John Workman; editors, Mariah Huehner and Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

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Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 2 (September 2014)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #2

Casey goes with a four-way split on this issue of Captain Victory. There's the original spaceship, hunting down the Captain Victory clones who are off who knows where. Then there's the full-grown, yet battle damaged Captain Victory who doesn't remember anything exactly; he's getting in fights on a garbage planet. He's not particularly interesting and Casey doesn't give Fox a lot of great stuff to draw on his story.

But then the stuff with the teenage Captain Victory on Earth in a bad neighborhood is awesome. Casey and Fox create this distinct look, where the kid–Victor–has a mentor, has friends, yet still has his goofy mission. It's nice stuff.

The fourth part comes in between Captains Victory on their respective planets–it's the flashback. Michel Fiffe handles the art. It's a boring flashback to Captain Victory's bland space adventures.

Even the garbage planet is better than dull flashbacks.

It's okay stuff.



Writer, Joe Casey; artists, Nathan Fox and Michel Fiffe; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 45 (March 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #45

It's funny, but George Tuska really brings the book around. He's just filling in, but Conway's got Multiplex (Firestorm's foe since the second issue of the original series) getting all the villains together–although Firestorm's rogues gallery doesn't have a clubhouse–to attack him. Or something.

But it's a very Flash, very Spider-Man story and Tuska just brings that fun, Silver Age vibe to the book. The art isn't great–some of he and Mike Gustovich's faces are atrocious–but it's got a lot of energy to it. They bring the same energy to the civilian storyline, with Ronnie and Martin both having problems at school. Ronnie because his stepmother-to-be is suing Firestorm and Martin because his sexy dean has the hots for him.

Conway's prudish portrayal of Martin–along with a chaste one of Ronnie and his girlfriend's relationship–is peculiar. He teases character development then doesn't deliver.

Still, the Tuska energy gets it through.



A Gathering of Hate!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, George Tuska; inker, Mike Gustovich; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.


Annihilator 1 (September 2014)

Annihilator #1

A Hollywood screenwriter discovers his creation has sort of come to life and he also has a brain tumor. The writer, not the creation.

Grant Morrison has clearly seen Barton Fink and a bunch of other movies. What originality does he bring to the idea in Annihilator? Getting artist Frazer Irving to do a lot of sex scenes? Umm… Oh, Morrison's seen Lord of Illusions too, I think.

Would Annihilator be better if it were Grant Morrison's movie reviews, with Irving illustrating? Probably. Morrison gives Irving L.A. or some other planet to draw. Irving's got a spared back style–he doesn't seem to want to work too hard on this one–and occasionally his figures remind of Corben. So the comic's interesting looking, even if none of the visuals are particularly impressive.

The Fountain. Lots of it reminds of The Fountain too.

Why read a knockoff when you can watch the original?



Writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Frazer Irving; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Greg Tumbarello and Bob Schreck; publisher, Legendary Comics.


Star Trek 13 (April 1981)

Star Trek #13

It's another high concept issue from Pasko. He's got McCoy meeting his estranged daughter for the first time in years–she's marrying a Vulcan (a much, much older one), he's got the Enterprise landing on The Planet of the Apes and how it plays out when the Klingons get there. Pasko plays a lot with the Apes thing, working in all sorts of genre stuff from outside. For a few pages, it all feels like a mystery, and for the last few pages, Pasko goes for difficult character work.

In the meantime, there are also Klingons around causing trouble. These are post-The Motion Picture Klingons having a very television series encounter with the Enterprise crew. Pasko hits all the right notes.

Unfortunately, Joe Brozowski, Tom Palmer and Marie Severin don't exactly knock it out of the park on the art. There's some detail, but it's more consistently messy than anything else.



All the Infinite Ways; writer, Martin Pasko; pencillers, Joe Brozowski, Tom Palmer and Diverse Hands; inkers, Palmer and Marie Severin; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.


Lazarus 11 (September 2014)

Lazarus #11

Not a torture issue, thank goodness; instead it's a Lazarus issue with a lot of well-done political intrigue. There's not a lot of fighting, but there are some stylized stand-offs. Lark can do talking heads, he can do stand-offs. The issue's the perfect medium grade Lark–he's not stretching, but he's surpassing all goals.

Rucka gets to do political plotting related to the previous issue–the torture one–but also back to the first story arc. All of those awkward opening issues with too much melodrama have laid the groundwork for Rucka to get creative with his storytelling. His requirements are a lot different now.

There's some good character stuff with Forever, which has been a long time coming. She's slowly becoming a worthwhile protagonist instead of just an interesting character.

Lazarus has been on slow burn but it's starting to get downright reliable issue after issue. It's very solid work from Rucka.



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

Fury of Firestorm Annual

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual 3 (November 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual #3

Akin and Garvey’s inks are a little better this issue. Not much, but a little. There are a lot of action sequences and most of them come off well, as does Firestorm’s trip to the sun. Martin has some theories about their powers and wants to investigate; for a moment, Firestorm feels like sci-fi and it works better for it. Conway’s engaged and imaginative.

The main story of the issue, however, just gives Kayanan an excuse to draw elaborate fight sequences in Miami. They’re fine, they’re just pointless. Ronnie and Martin get involved because they see it on TV. And Conway wastes a lot of time setting up the characters for this pointless excursion.

Well, it’s an annual so I guess it’s the special element to the issue.

The rest–Martin’s going away party at work, Ronnie’s father’s awful girlfriend–is the regular series stuff; sadly, Conway short-changes them on page time.



Sparx; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inkers, Ian Akin and Brian Garvey; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Duncan Andrews; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.


Wild’s End 1 (September 2014)

Wild's End #1

Wild’s End is supposed to be The War of the Worlds meets The Wind in the Willows. Only Dan Abnett’s approach to the quaint British townsfolk isn’t Willows, it’s a bad BBC show. There’s the sexy bruiser, there are the closeted elected officials, there are the annoying townsfolk. It’s dumb.

But End has some more problems. I.N.J. Culbard’s art isn’t anywhere near detailed enough or stylistic enough. The animal (properly attired, of course) cast is boring to look at. Culbard has no personality to the animals. Sure, doing anthropomorphized characters well probably isn’t easy but Culbard doesn’t even seem to be trying.

Some of the problem seems to be the lack of seriousness with End. Willows has, in recent years, become recognized as a work of literature and Worlds certainly has a solid reputation. Abnett and Culbard seem to be cashing in for a possible cheap CGI movie deal.




The Village Fete; writer, Dan Abnett; artist and letterer, I.N.J. Culbard; editors, Cameron Chittock and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.


Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours 4 (May 2003)

Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours #4

Bickering. Jones concludes the series with Bruce and Logan bickering. Why are they bickering? Because Wolverine first appeared in a Hulk comic and Jones is trying to tie into their long history together? Who knows–Wolverine sure isn’t remembered for his Hulk appearance.

The resolution is tightly paced, with Jones first using humor to get through Wolverine’s fight with the Shredder. The Shredder proves disposable–a distraction from the main event of the issue, Wolverine versus the Hulk. Even the resolution to the plane crash takes a backseat to the fight.

And Kolins draws a visceral yet still amusing fight between the two. The Hulk’s foaming at the mouth at one point; Jones wisely doesn’t try for an intelligent Hulk or even a sensible one. It’s just the fight the comic has been promising since the first issue.

It’s jokey, oddly pleasant while still maintaining some toughness. Jones isn’t going for deep.



Writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Scott Kolins; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, John Miesegaes; publisher, Marvel Comics.


Hawkeye 20 (November 2014)

Hawkeye #20

What do the Kate Bishop Hawkeye comics read like if you haven’t seen The Last Goodbye?

Fraction wraps up Kate’s trip to Los Angeles with one of his fractured (Fraction fractures, get it? Oh, never mind) narratives–the beginning is actually a midpoint and the ending is a reference to the beginning. But it’s a finite fractured narrative and it works. He doesn’t go too far with it.

He’s always been better with Kate on the book, probably because the reader is going to identify with her read of Clint Barton as a tool. Fraction writes him as a tool after all.

There’s a lot of humor, a lot of black humor, the occasional creepy moment and some great Kate narration. Fraction doesn’t do a lot of resolution for the L.A. outing, however, which would have been nice.

Wu’s art is great.

It gets laggy but it works out swell.



Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Annie Wu; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 44 (February 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #44

It’s Conway’s most ambitious issue in a long time. The first third of the issue is Firestorm versus a natural disaster–a freak tornado in Pittsburgh. Of course, Typhoon is creating the tornado to draw Firestorm out, but Firestorm doesn’t know it. Conway does a lot with the narration and the trying to use it to pace the scenes.

It doesn’t work, but it’s ambitious. Maybe if the art were better. Machlan’s inks are a mess this issue. They’re better in the superhero part, but still a mess.

The second part of the issue is Ronnie and Martin’s adventures at school. It’s just a regular day–they’re worried they can’t turn back into Firestorm but it’s barely a plot point. It’s all character development; if it weren’t for the dumb high school nemesis, it might work out.

Meanwhile, there’s the villain storyline, which Conway also handles ambitiously.

It’s decent enough.



An East Wind Blowing; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.


Prophet: Strikefile 1 (September 2014)

Prophet: Strikefile #1

Prophet: Strikefile, after the entire relaunched series, explains a lot of what's been going on in the comic. The writers of Prophet always let in little details about the universe, without ever doing full exposition. Strikefile simultaneously has that full exposition, but writers Simon Roy and Brandon Graham still tell it in a reserved manner. They still rely on the art to subtly infer, for example.

The issue has a lot of different artists, most of them regular artists from the series, so they know how to compose an informative Prophet page.

Roy's opening history of the universe–with Grim Wilkins on art–is so dense, the subsequent pages covering various Prophet people, places and things is all gravy.

In their exposition, Roy and Graham maintain a somewhat playful attitude; it's like they know Strikefile is extraneous but they still want to have fun with it.

And, while entirely superfluous, it succeeds.



Writers, Simon Roy and Brandon Graham; artists, Roy, Grim Wilkins, Graham, Sandra Lanz,Matt Sheehan, Malachi Ward, Bayard Baudoin, Onta, Giannis Milonogiannis, Joseph Bergin III, Ron Ackins and Tom Parkinson-Morgan; colorists, Sheehan, Ward and Amy Clare; letterer, Ed Brisson; publisher, Image Comics.


Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours 3 (April 2003)

Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours #3

Jones maintains a great pace through Six Hours. He’s got his four plot lines going–Bruce and Logan, the villain (the Shredder, because apparently Eastman and Laird don’t know how to copyright), the captive pilot and the missing boy’s parents back in Florida. It moves really well; Jones doesn’t cover a lot of time, but he does spend just the right amount on each characters’ experiences.

Unfortunately, he also has some really goofy dialogue. And Bruce and Logan barely have anything to do in the comic. They bicker a lot. Jones isn’t big on character development and he’s even less inclined to spend any time developing his two leads. The cliffhanger, with Bruce and Logan versus the Shredder (or at least the first attack), is just silly.

Dialogue aside, it’s also silly because it’s a big action set piece on a tranquil lake. Kolins does fine on art, lake and all.



Writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Scott Kolins; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, John Miesegaes; publisher, Marvel Comics.


Copperhead 1 (September 2014)

Copperhead #1

Copperhead is a Western. It has sci-fi and some elements of police procedural, but it’s a Western. It opens with a new sheriff coming to town on a train and having an unhelpful deputy. It’s a Western.

And it’s a darned good one.

Writer Jay Faerber operates with a “people is people” mentality. Even though the sheriff is human, her deputy and many (or most) of the townspeople are not. Undoubtedly, Faerber will explore the different alien races, but their personalities are what’s strongest now. So while artist Scott Godlewski draws all manner of aliens–cute, scary, in-between–Faerber’s writing defines them.

Well, and Godlewski’s great attention to expression.

Faerber gets a lot done, giving the sheriff a nemesis and a couple cases. She’s also got a kid who just can’t help being helpful. Again, very Western.

I wasn’t expecting anything from Copperhead but it’s an awesome comic.



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